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Volunteering your time in the off Season

I have been on break this winter so to say.  I chose to travel this winter and do some volunteer work abroad in Mexico and Guatemala. I spent four months all together in both countries and had an amazing time.  I volunteered for an Animal Shelter in Mexico as well as a Wildlife Sanctuary in Guatemala.  I always try to be inventive when it comes to ideas to create more income when I travel.  Even though I am new to it still, I was given that opportunity when offered to write for  It is a work in progress, and even though I am not currently in Alaska they bestowed me with the title "Anchorage Holistic Travel Writer".  So far I have only written three articles as it has been challenging being that I am not in Alaska currently.  Despite that, I feel this is a great opportunity to hopefully fine tune my writing skills and also share my experiences.  in any case I will attach the link to my articles at the site to share with all of you.


In getting back to volunteering, I have always enjoyed donating my time and energy to causes that I feel passionate about.  For me it is usually related to animals so this past fall that is exactly what I did.  I researched a few places that did not require fees, which is a big scam out there with volunteering.  So many of these sites have enormous fees which I do not agree with where you have to pay to work. There are however many opportunities where you do not have to pay a fee, or the fee is small enough to justify donating the amount to help the cause.  This was the case with the Sanctuary in Guatemala. have a fee of 100.00 a week which includes accommodations in the volunteer house and three meals a day.  It was some of the hardest work I have every done, yet worth it.  With a strict schedule starting at 6:30 a.m. we attended to Scarlet Macaws, Howler Monkey's and other wildlife being cared for and also part of a breeding program at the center.  Compared to other volunteer sites, some as much as 700.00 a week, I could justify this.  The Center is located on Lake Peten in Northern Guatemala next to Isla De Flores, a charming town with colorful buildings and a Carribbean essence to it.  It is also close to Tikal National Park, which was one of the most amazing places I have ever been.  For any of you who have thought about spending some of your off season volunteering I recommend ARCAS.  They also have a center in Montericco on the Guatemalan coast where you can help with Sea Turtle monitoring.  This site only charges 5.00 a day, yet you have to buy and prepare your own meals. Both very worthwhile causes.


Later in Mexico I volunteered for an Animal Shelter that I connected with on my own.  I spent a month there helping with homeless animals and taking care of them.  Also worthwhile, yet more off the beaten path. I will attach a link to a website that offers many volunteer opportunities worldwide without fees, this site was started by a couple who saw the need for volunteers many years ago while traveling.  It is a great resource for people who want to travel, yet also would like to spend time helping out somewhere.


Well it is closing in on that time when we all think about the next step. I for myself will be heading north again, yet not sure of dates.  I certainly hope everyone had a great winter and are beginning to get excited about spring.

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Comment by Connie Kramer on February 13, 2011 at 8:36pm
Dawna I checked into that website workaway that you recommended and it sure does seem appealing. Can you tell me how many times you have gone that route for volunteering, I am very intrigued. And do you know if there are any background checks or stipulations that hosts (or even volunteers) must adhere to? Do you feel that it is a safe route to go, I know you have done it more than once...thanks for any information.
Comment by JPH on February 9, 2011 at 9:14am
Hey Tribe - I am a volunteer in Haiti right now -  what a beautiful day . I' m hangin' at the airfield waitng on a flight of supplies so I have a moment to connect w/ the World . So I've been wearing the same clothes since I arrived last Friday - my gear was swiped by the guy I paid to guard my stuff . No worries - I smell like my colleagues and the general population .
The theives/bandits are a nuisance and are the primary reason I was recruited so quickly . Really thinking outside of the box on this problem . We don't carry weapons and I don't want to speak of the UN Forces right now . However , these folks are extremely superstious and that is going to play in my favor . A few tricks and some noise - I think I'm on to something - must be creative anyway . Really hope to make it back for my EDR crew slot at Yellowstone , all that yummy EDR food .
Comment by Dawna Raven sky on February 7, 2011 at 11:03pm
I only paid a very small fee which covered the cook in Guatemala and helped the center,... yes most have crazy fees, yet the one website I linked in... workaway.. are opportunities globablly w/out fees.
Comment by akscootr on February 7, 2011 at 8:45pm
Will you be in Seward again this year?... If so, drop by and visit the sailboat Dragonfly when you arrive. I will most likely be there... I love your volunteering and would do so myself one day. But paying a bunch of fees? I don't feel that is right...
Comment by Dawna Raven sky on February 7, 2011 at 3:12pm
Aggie I just sent you a reply from your message of last week....
Comment by aggie71 on February 7, 2011 at 3:11pm
Wow do keep busy. While I am dieing to follow you to Seward, I'm not quite as passionate of taking your lead in Mexico or Guatemala! But I am really impressed with you donating your time to help the animals involved ... kudos! If you happen to speak with Geri at CIRI please mention me :-) I think my interview went well but have no idea if I will get a job offer of some kind. I do think Princess in Denali is going to offer me a summer job soon but don't have any details yet. Take care and return to Alaska so I can meet you!

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