EY recently sent 30 employees on its Earthwatch Ambassodors program, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, just as the trend of “extreme volunteerism” is gaining traction at other big corporations.
Launched in 2008, the Big Four’s program sent 30 employees to Brazil and Costa Rica this summer for skills-based volunteer expeditions with the Earthwatch Institute, an international nonprofit that promotes sustainability by engaging people in scientific field research and education.
Though more than 100 EY employees in the Americas have gone on an Earthwatch expedition to date, the selection process is tough, with only one in 10 people who apply accepted.
Wesley Worth, in the tax practice of the Atlanta office, was one of the 10 people selected to travel to Costa Rica this summer. The process takes into account the applicant’s submitted essays, latest review rating in the firm, and response to the question of whether they are “comfortable being uncomfortable.”
As an ambassador, Worth helped scientists collect data for a three-year project conducted by the University of Costa Rica to research a fungus devastating the southern region’s coffee crops. His daily work included taking soil samples and helping a 2,600-member coffee co-operative structure their executive team.
“We had a lot of work to get done, and a mission, and we got it done,” Worth said. “From a personal perspective, it was an amazing opportunity.”
In Brazil, 20 employees trekked into one of the world’s most threatened areas of biodiversity, the Atlantic Forest, to collect data and work with a community of bee-keepers who make honey as part of an important alternative revenue source for the region.
Worth said he plans to apply for the program again, for both the gratifying experience and the networking potential he found with his fellow volunteers.
“There are nine other people from across the Americas that I didn’t know before, that I can reach out to,” he added.
More information about the Earthwatch Ambassadors program is available in this video.