Volunteer USA

At a glance
Project Construction
Cost 595+ or 839+
Eligibility Aged 18 - 50
Duration 12 days or, 8 - 12 weeks

Application

Do I need any previous conservation experience?

Volunteers don’t need any conservation experience. The only requirements are a sense of adventure, a desire to make a difference and a willingness to remain flexible and positive through ever changing project work, locations, and weather conditions.

Are there any physical requirements?

Projects will be outdoors in all types of weather. Extensive hiking is often involved, sometimes in extreme conditions such as elevations above 9,000 feet (3,000 meters), 100 degree heat, freezing temperatures, steep terrain, rainstorms, high winds, etc. While it’s not necessary to be superhuman, volunteers should be generally fit, comfortable with living outdoors and flexible enough to enjoy the challenges presented by fickle weather conditions.

Due to the high elevations and the rigor of the tasks involved, this programme is not recommended for individuals with respiratory problems such as asthma. Additionally, if you have any past injuries which may flare up if you undertake extreme physical activities this programme would not be suitable for you. Project locations are often very remote and far from medical facilities. If you are in any doubt about your ability to take part in this programme, consult your doctor for advice.

Why is the programme not cheaper for a shorter duration?

The programme is carefully coordinated so that volunteers have sufficient time to make a real contribution while on a project, that there is ample time taken to rotate between projects and that volunteers have enough time off between projects to rest. This is achieved best if a volunteer stays for a longer duration. With volunteers staying for a shorter duration, the logistics become slightly more complicated and extra onsite administration is required in order to coordinate projects suited to tighter time restrictions. This essentially means that our local in-country partner charges the same fee even if a volunteer is staying longer.

What is the orientationh interview?

At BUNAC we believe that each volunteer should be treated as an individual. All participants will have a one-to-one orientation interview by phone. It is not a formal interview, but a chance for us to get to know more about you and your reasons for volunteering. We’ll explain how the programme works and what you can expect, as well as going over issues such as health and security to help prepare you for your time away. It’s also an opportunity for you to ask us any questions you might have.

The Projects

How many days per week are the projects for?

Projects typically last for 4 – 9 consecutive days and you can then enjoy 3 - 6 days off for exploration of the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas (approximately 4 hours away by bus from Flagstaff), Lake Mead, Lake Powell, San Francisco, or simply relaxing at the volunteer accommodation

There are occasional 3-4 week projects, where you’ll have your days off in a location other than Flagstaff. It is likely that you will be on one longer project in Utah, with off-time housing in a youth hostel in the town of Hurricane. This will give you the chance to explore Zion, Bryce and Escalante National Parks and is only a 2 hour drive from Las Vegas.

Can I choose my projects?

Projects are dependent on among other things, the weather, nesting and migrating seasons of native wildlife, and immediate needs of project partners; they are therefore allocated on arrival. Volunteers will be rotated every 2 - 4 weeks to provide a variety of experiences.

Are there opportunities to work on projects outside of Arizone, Utah and Nevada?

If all places on a project have been filled, volunteers will be invited to join the partner programme in Santa Cruz, California. Volunteers may be also placed on this project on request.

Who will I be volunteering with?

Our American partner recruits volunteers within the USA and internationally so you can expect to be volunteering within a very international group of varied ages. The common language is English.

Can I be placed with my friend / partner?

Where possible we will do our best to place you with your friend or partner. If you’re travelling with a friend you should be prepared to work on different projects and have different days off.

Are all of the projects outdoors?

Yes, all volunteer projects are outdoors and the weather can be unpredictable at any time of the year. Project descriptions are always subject to change.

Flights, Visas & Insurance

Do BUNAC help with flights?

BUNAC’s preferred travel agent is STA Travel and they will be able to help you book your flights to and from America.

Give them a call on the BUNAC dedicated phone number 0871 468 0666 or get in touch at bunac@statravel.co.uk

 If you’d prefer to make alternative plans then you’re more than welcome to as long as you arrive in time for the start of the orientation. Please make sure you provide BUNAC with proof of your return trip so that we can arrange your airport pick up.

Which type of visa is neeeded?

Volunteers travel on the US Visa Waiver programme. Subject to meeting the terms and conditions of entry, participants will be granted a total, non-extendable stay of 90 days on arrival in to America. Check that you qualify using the US Embassy Visa Wizard.

Can I stay in America for more than 90 days?

If you want to stay in America for longer than 90 days you will need to apply for a specific US Tourist Visa prior to travel. This will require attendance at the US Embassy and will therefore add time and expense to the processing of your application. If this applies to you, please contact BUNAC.

Can I travel after the programme?

Yes, within the restrictions of the visa. The visa waiver programme allows a maximum stay of 90 days. The 12 week (84 days) programme is arranged so that participants complete their last project and then have between 3 and 6 days off taking them up to the total 12 week programme period.

This will allow between 9 and 12 days in total for travel. The 8 week and 10 week programmes provide a greater opportunity for travel. Most volunteers will also travel during their days off whilst on the programme.

Can I transfer to another job while in America?

Unfortunately not. The Visa Waiver is only appropriate when undertaking volunteer projects through a recognised partner. For alternative opportunities in America please refer to BUNAC’s Work America programme.

Do I need insurance?

Yes. BUNAC’s fully comprehensive insurance policy has been arranged with Endsleigh, one of the UK’s leading insurance companies. The BUNAC policy is compulsory for this programme. You can find out more about the insurance here.

Accommodation

What are the accomodation arrangements during projects?

On days when volunteers aren’t taking part in projects they stay in one of the volunteer housing in Flagstaff. Housing is communal, with dormitory style bedrooms and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. There are storage facilities for luggage that isn’t needed on projects and there is also a safe in the office for passports, tickets and other small valuables. Most houses are equipped with wi-fi.

When on longer projects in Utah, volunteers stay at a local youth hostel (owned by our US partner) in the town of Hurricane.

What are accomodation arrangements between projects?

On days when volunteers aren’t taking part in projects they stay in either student apartments or one of the volunteer houses in Flagstaff.

Housing is communal, with dormitory style bedrooms and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. There are storage facilities for luggage that isn’t needed on projects and there is also a safe in the office for passports, tickets and other small valuables.

Is food provided?

Food is provided at each project. Volunteers shop and cook with their teams, taking turns preparing meals for the group. On their days off, volunteers are responsible for buying and preparing their own food. There are self catering facilities in the accommodations and there are plenty of affordable diners and restaurants in town.

How much spending money should I take?

We recommend that you anticipate spending £75 per week whilst you are volunteering. However, if you intend to travel during your days off or on completion of your programme (hiring a car for a road trip for example) we recommend that you take extra.

What is the legal drinking age in America?

You must be 21 years old or over if you want to drink alcohol in America and you will need to show your passport each time you enter a bar to confirm your age. If you’re under 21 you won’t be permitted in any bar regardless of whether you’ll be drinking alcohol.

Alcohol is prohibited whilst on project and within the accommodation. However, there are lots of things to do for those under 21 including bowling, cinema, restaurants and cafes. Your accommodation for your days off will include common areas with TVs, CD players and DVD players.

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