The Volunteer/intern coordinator (VIC) position is a very broad role with numerous responsibilities, it is NOT a scientific role, and you will not be expected to supervise scientific projects. The VIC is primarily responsible for ensuring that all Para La Tierra (PLT) visitors, volunteers, interns and researchers get a well-rounded and rewarding experience during their stay in Paraguay. To this end it is exceptionally important that the VIC is positive and outgoing, with a can-do attitude, and that they are willing to try and solve problems and work independently.
About the role:
PLT is an award-winning, Paraguayan non-profit NGO, dedicated to the conservation of threatened species and habitats in Paraguay through scientific research, community engagement and environmental education. We invite early career biologists, researchers and wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world to come and carry out their own research in the city of Pilar, using our facilities and supervision to help them conduct high-level studies of the surrounding ecosystems. These studies frequently result in the publication of peer-reviewed research papers in scientific journals that genuinely improve our understanding of Paraguay’s nature and help drive conservation efforts. With this strong scientific background, PLT is engaged in multiple conservation projects, involving local communities and stakeholders as well as training local children to become eco-leaders through our award-winning environmental education program.
The VIC is the first point-of-contact for visiting researchers, volunteers and interns throughout their stay. It is therefore the responsibility of the VIC to provide logistical and emotional support to our visitors to make sure that they can focus on their studies and have an excellent experience at the same time. The VIC is a team leader that communicates effectively between our visiting researchers and our permanent staff base.
The duties of the VIC include providing orientation on arrival, and giving continuous support by organising visits to various field sites, accompanying volunteers/interns on daily activities, organising twice weekly entertainment evenings, and ensuring the house is fully stocked for breakfast and evening in the bar.
Although this role is mostly a paternal role with a focus on supporting PLT’s visitors, the VIC may also get the chance to take on opportunistic scientific and community engagement projects in and around Pilar, using these projects as opportunities to improve the experience had by PLT visitors. This is, of course, according to the needs of the organisation and not guaranteed.
The successful VIC will be a positive outgoing person that bonds well with both the visiting researchers and the permanent staff team. They will be excited to socialise and entertain as a major part of their role, but they will also respect that not everybody likes to relax or socialise in the same way and cater for this accordingly. They will understand that it can be hard to balance scientific rigor and fieldwork with an exciting social life, but they will lead by example in their ability to responsibly address this. They will be comfortable with driving daily on foreign roads, and they will be happy to wake up early and go to bed late, while balancing their own schedule around this.
Due to the nature of this role, the VIC is never truly “off-the clock”. Although we work 5.5 days a week, the VIC is expected to help our visitors, given that it is reasonable to do so, even during their time off. If you are likely to perceive evening socialisation such as running a bar, hosting movie nights or going out for meal with the team as “work time” then this role is probably not for you.
This role does not include a salary but all room and board are covered for the entire period of the stay.
Six months minimum with an option to extend the contract following successful review after at least three months in the role.
1. Maintain a happy and healthy volunteer house.
- Act as the first point-of-contact for all visitors. Dealing with questions and concerns in a helpful, friendly and responsible manner, raising issues with the management team where necessary.
- Ensure that all PLT visitors are kept up-to-date with on-going activities, coordinating with everyone to ensure all interns and volunteers stay informed of events and opportunities offered by PLT.
- Address any needs for equipment or food-shopping in the house, including keeping the bar and breakfast area fully stocked at all times.
- Lead weekly house meetings with all PLT visitors to address any issues with the house or PLT activities, and relay relevant information back to PLT management.
- Organise volunteer chores, including Sunday cooking and cleaning.
- Introduce new visitors to the house, give them the site induction and orient them so that they settle well into the existing group.
- Ensure health and safety of PLT visitors through familiarity with all house-related procedures and equipment.
- Ensure visitor compliance with PLT house rules including our data transfer policy.
2. Facilitate (but not supervise) Scientific Projects
- Drive interns and volunteers into the field and guide them through new habitats
Maintain a positive attitude in the field, leading by example for all interns and visitors.
- Ensure that all field activities are conducted safely, providing volunteers/interns with the equipment, and support necessary to carry out the safe execution of their projects.
- Co-ordinate and support volunteers in data collection of any PLT priority projects.
3. Admin and Accountability
- Meet with all volunteers/interns each day in order to plan and schedule activities.
- Submit monthly reports to the Executive and Deputy Director
- Coordinate with the Research Supervisor to ensure good protocols for organisation of data collected through volunteer science projects.
- When necessary, fulfil domestic responsibilities including but not limited to cooking meals, cleaning dishes, doing the shopping, coordinating recreational activities, and managing PLT home projects.
- Contribute to the engagement of PLT volunteers and interns in an academic and challenging culture.
Help establish a culture of positivity, acceptance and equality, leading by example.
This role can be very demanding so it is absolutely necessary that the successful applicant can balance a full schedule with a flexible and dynamic approach according to the needs of the organisation.
Very early mornings can often be coupled with late nights, so an ability to manage your own time and schedule your days (and naps) accordingly is key.
Excellent communication skills are necessary as the VIC will be the first person to deal with issues from visitors, while also being expected to socialise and integrate with them, while also reflecting the values of PLT.
You must be very positive and outgoing with a desire to socialise and an ability to inspire groups to bond.
A manual driving licence is required
Basic level of Spanish is preferred
No education requirements are necessary, but a complete understanding and respect for the scientific process is.
About Para La Tierra
We’re dedicated to conserving fragile habitats in Paraguay through scientific research, community engagement, and environmental education. Our field sites stretch from the wetlands of Ñeembucú to the deep Atlantic Forest of Alto Parana, including all the river systems, marshes, and Chaco regions in between.