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Our five Course Instructors originally met through the online National Geographic Explorers community forum, as we reached out to one another for collective support in a time of need. We are all actively involved in small, grassroots, community-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have significant responsibilities for and mandates to our local community partners. We worried about how we would weather the storm of COVID-19 when much of our funding was based on field courses, international donations, and product sales. We began sharing ideas of how to creatively support one another and our partnering communities across Latin America.
Our discussions quickly turned from intimidating to inspiring - launching us into what is now the Virtual Field School. The inception of the idea, and the heart of all of our work, remains the same: to support our local community partners towards a more sustainable and equitable future.
Therefore, 100% of our program fees will be donated to the non-profit organizations that we care so deeply about.
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The Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 1990 by residents of the Bay Islands, Honduras in order to initiate and coordinate efforts in protecting the islands' fragile natural resources. BICA has been instrumental in helping in the creation of terrestrial and marine protected areas such as Turtle Harbour Wildlife Refuge and the Bay Islands National Marine Park, as well as the protection of the critically endangered hawksbill turtles and vulnerable loggerheads during their nesting season, protection of the reef through the installation of mooring buoys, waste management, beach clean-ups, and environmental education to divers, businesses and schools. It offers four main programs: Research and monitoring, Environmental education and community outreach, Community development, and Protection and surveillance.


Fundación Para La Tierra is a not-for-profit conservation organization founded in 2010 under the mission to protect the threatened habitats of Paraguay through scientific research, environmental education, and community engagement while training the next generation of conservation scientists in ecological research techniques. With its headquarters in the south of Paraguay, Para La Tierra conducts field research at four different field sites, including Paraguay’s largest remaining fragment of Atlantic Forest, South America’s second largest wetland complex, and the Gran Chaco, one of the fastest disappearing habitats on Earth. Para La Tierra also supports a network of 30 extracurricular “eco-clubs” for children between the ages of 7 and 14, and has hosted more than 400 life-sciences students as part of its internship program to promote Paraguayan biodiversity conservation.


Mosqoy is a grassroots organization that works towards global sustainability and resilience by empowering local culture. It works in collaboration with rural Quechua populations in the Andean mountains of Peru to mitigate the adverse effects of unsustainable tourism and development in the region. Towards this end, it operates three main programs: 1) a fair-trade textile initiative, which offers market access for rural women artisans; 2) a sustainability field school, which inspires its students to become more responsible consumers and travelers; and 3) a youth program, which offers post-secondary scholarships to Indigenous youth of the region.


Costa Rica

The Rescue Center for Endangered Marine Species (‘CREMA’ in Spanish) is a Costa-Rican based organization founded in 2012. It specializes in marine conservation and research, working to protect ocean resources and promote sustainable fisheries policies in Costa Rica and Central America. It directs its efforts towards the following projects: 1) Direct in-the-field conservation projects, 2) Public awareness and education, and 3) International marine biodiversity conservation policy.


The Wildlife Conservation Association (WCA) is a non-profit organization in Nosara, Costa Rica, dedicated to promoting wildlife conservation through scientific research, community engagement, and immersive educational experiences that inspire sustainable living. It believes that successful conservation is dependent on us making the change to a sustainable lifestyle, where a harmonious balance of social, environmental, and economic interests exists. Its vision is to be a leading example locally and internationally in wildlife conservation through its research, sustainability, and educational programs. Its mission is a planet in balance.

While we are all individually affiliated with the National Geographic Society and are grateful for their support of our research projects, the Virtual Field School is an independently run project and is not operated by or affiliated with the National Geographic Society.
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