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The Galapagos Islands, separated from the South American coast have seen animals and plants evolve independently from the outside world. The environment is precious and today is desperately in need of protection. Starting in March 2018 I will be joining Projects Abroad to spend two months volunteering with the National Parks Department of Ecuador on a variety of conservation projects. The overall aim is to contribute to the conservation and preservation of the unique and abundant marine and terrestrial ecosystems through crucial research and practical hands-on work. I will be playing a vital role on this project eradicating introduced species, beach clean-ups, and species population monitoring. This will involve hiking to areas where the animals can be found and collecting data during animal observation. Most of the monitoring work focuses on sea birds, particularly the Galapagos Petrel, an endangered sea bird that is endemic to the Galapagos. This bird is unique and builds its nest in specific habitats dominated by the native Miconia plants. However, human settlements have introduced invasive species such as the blackberry and guava tree. These are out-competing the Miconia plants and a second intruder, the black rat, is destroying nests and feeding on eggs and chicks.I look at my time abroad not only as a way to give back but also as a way to gain a better insight into the world around me. While I am volunteering I will be living with a local host family. I believe that the long-term relationships that I hope to make with my project colleagues and host-family will be of great value to me as well as them. At the end of my project I hope to return with a better understanding of the country I'm volunteering in and the people that I have interacted with this. I'm choosing to volunteer through an organisation called Projects Abroad. Projects Abroad was established in 1992 as a volunteer English-teaching programme in Eastern Europe and has since grown to offer a wide range of opportunities in volunteering, internships, and language courses in over 25 destinations around the globe. I will be joining a community of well over 50,000 volunteers past and present that have lent their time and effort to giving back around the world. As this experience is unpaid, I will need to cover costs for things like flights, the Projects Abroad programme fee and vaccinations. I plan to contribute a significant portion of my own funds to this, as well as funding through sponsorships and fundraising events. Even a small amount will get me one step closer to my goal. Thank you in advance for any support you can give.
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