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EY announced that theirEY-Earthwatch Ambassadorsprogram - a collaboration between EY and the Earthwatch Institute,a non-profit that looks to engage professionals in scientific field research and education in sustainable environments - donated 3,120 hours of service this year in assisting local entrepreneurs in Latin America.

During the week-long program, ambassadors from EY member firms (ranging from North, South, and Central America and Israel) helped improve the business practices and local ecosystems in Brazil and Mexico. Forty professionals visited the two countries this year, taking part in field research and consulting businesses in local communities.

“The EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors program gives our employees a meaningful opportunity to go beyond the office and leverage their skills in a non-traditional workplace,” said Deborah Holmes, EY Americas director of Corporate Responsibility, in a statement. “The program helps our professionals grow into better leaders and teammates as they expand their global mindset by immersing themselves in a new culture alongside their colleagues.”

In Brazil, selected Ambassadors provided operational and organization structure, marketing and financial recommendations to a family-owned hospitality business and an ecotourism organization, as well as helping scientists collect data mapping biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Atlantic Forest.

In Mexico, Ambassadors supported a farming co-op with organizational structure, branding and marketing in order to increase awareness of the benefits of sustainable agricultural practices. Additionally, Ambassadors collected data on water quality in the Xochimilco wetlands, outside of Mexico City, as part of a study on the health of freshwater ecosystems across the globe.

“Our signature program with EY epitomizes the power of partnership between the nonprofit and corporate sector,” stated Scott Kania, CEO of Earthwatch. “It’s thrilling to witness the tangible impact the Ambassadors have on the ground, and equally exciting to hear how their experiences helped them grow professionally and personally in return.”

“Professionally, I benefited from networking with individuals across the county and from across service lines,” said Jessica Sartain, an assurance senior from EY in Nashville and part of the Mexico team, in a statement. “The expedition also strengthened my ability to adapt to different mindsets, cultures, language barriers, and ways of thinking through problems. Specifically, I was able to improve upon my communication skills by practicing my presentation and public speaking skills in front of large groups.”

Since the program's inception in 2009, more than 200 EY professionals have donated approximately 16,000 hours of service to the EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors program.

For more on the program, head to EY'ssite here.