Ecoventura helps to instill the importance of conservation for the next generation by giving support for 12 scholarships in 2013 and 25 scholarships in 2014. The one week course is offered to local students age 16-17 from the islands of Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz to study ecology-related issues. The program is under the auspices of Ecology Project International, a non-profit NGO. Since 2003, over 900 Galapagos students have been trained to develop critical thinking skills and a conservation ethic along with knowledge of the problems that threaten the sustainability of the islands. Students spend 50 hours in the field directly involved in conservation actions concerning invasive species and the health and release of turtles into the wild. There are six courses given from May to July every year, currently benefiting up to 150 local students per year. A $500 donation makes the course possible for one student. Ecoventura passengers can make donations at the EPI web site.
In 2012, Ecoventura launched a new career shadowing program for EPI students aimed at assisting them with career exploration by offering the opportunity to “shadow” an Ecoventura naturalist guide. Guides serve as mentors to the students in the field during a week-long cruise aboard a first class 20-passenger yacht; the Eric, Flamingo or Letty. A total of up to four applicants are selected by the EPI staff based on the student’s essay explaining their interest in becoming a naturalist guide or crew member. Through career shadowing, the students selected to participate will get the chance to learn first-hand what a professional naturalist guide, chef, engineer or Captain does on a typical work week. By observing the nature of the work and being able to ask questions of the mentors, students can acquire insight into a career field and determine the suitability of that career. This program provides a valuable link to motivate and encourage local students to choose a career in tourism.
Ecoventura give their support to EPI in several other ways including donating Island cruises for five of the EPI teachers for a field study program, contributing a cruise for two to the annual EPI Fundraiser in San Franciso and selling cabins on recoup.com resulting in a contibution of $700 to EPI for every cabin sold. Santiago Dunn, President of Ecoventura, is the newest Board Member at EPI.