• Marine Conservation
  • Volunteer and Adventure
  • Wildlife Conservation

Where can high school students volunteer?

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: April 7, 2023

You might be wondering where you can volunteer when you’re in high school. And you might be surprised to know there are options for you to volunteer abroad in some of the world’s most remarkable destinations. 

You could find yourself on safari in South Africa, trekking through mountains in Nepal or spotting whales frolicking past the Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa. 

What kinds of volunteering projects can you do?

As a high school student, you can take part in projects focused on community development or conservation. You’ll get a balance of hands-on work – such as recording data from surveys or carrying out beach cleanups – learning from skilled mentors and self-reflection. 

High school volunteer projects with GVI are designed for any young people aged 15 to 17 who have a desire to contribute to sustainable development and push themselves out of their comfort zone. 

Of course, you’ll also have plenty of time outside of your project work to explore your host country. Whether visiting remote wilderness areas for the first time or immersing yourself in diverse cultural environments, the best places for high school students to volunteer introduce you to new experiences and ideas. 

What countries are best for volunteering?

GVI offers high school volunteer programs in Costa Rica, Mexico, Nepal, Greece, South Africa, Thailand and the Canary Islands. Choose between beach, mountains, rainforests or savannah!

Your choice of destination might be based on what type of program you would like to do. For example, if you’re more community minded, Nepal might be for you. Or if you want to learn to dive, head to Mexico. Or maybe you’re drawn to learning Spanish in Costa Rica or tasting authentic Greek cuisine. 

If you’re wondering whether it’s safe for teenagers to volunteer abroad in any of these countries, you can feel rest assured because GVI takes great care of all volunteers. Your health and safety is our priority and our team will be there to support and guide you every step of the way, from first planning your trip, to arriving in your host country, and each day on base. We even have a parent info pack you can share with your parents while you’re making your decision. 

The best places to volunteer abroad while you’re still in high school

Where can high school students volunteer? Here are five epic programs in unforgettable locations. 

Volunteer with animals in South Africa

A safari is the ultimate wildlife experience – you’ll never forget the first time you see an elephant or lion in the wild. If you’re passionate about animals, an African wildlife conservation program might be right up your alley. You could track, spot and record information on South Africa’s unique animals, and wake up each day in a vibrant and beautiful savannah.  

Experience community volunteering in Nepal

Head to Pokhara, Nepal, where you can learn about social issues affecting the country and take part in practical solutions. On a Nepali immersion program, you can help to improve facilities at local schools while learning about ethical best practices for international community development projects. During your program, you will also get to trek through the Himalayas, visit Buddhist monasteries and make friends with other community-minded teen volunteers from around the world. 

Volunteer in dolphin and whale conservation in the Canary Islands

You could spend your summer holidays on the Spanish island of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. Here, you can help to conserve the dolphins and whales that swim past the islands. Your volunteer duties could involve spending time on a boat travelling around Tenerife, as you capture photos and collect behavioural data on marine megafauna. This is a great introduction to marine biology, combining ocean adventure with meaningful work. 

Back on land, you can enjoy hiking the mountainous landscape and relaxing on Tenerife’s idyllic beaches. 

Go on a sea turtle conservation adventure in Thailand

In Phang Nga, Thailand, you can volunteer at a sea turtle conservation centre. This might involve monitoring the growth of green turtles, administering medical care, or cleaning their tanks. You can also help to clean up plastic waste from local beaches and take part in renovation projects in schools.  

While in Thailand, you’ll get to enjoy the spectacular beaches along Phang Nga’s coastline, as well as go on hiking trips into tropical jungles that blanket the region. 

Get PADI diving certificates on marine conservation programs in Mexico

Head to the idyllic Riviera Maya on the coast of Mexico to advance your diving skills. If you already have a PADI Open Water certificate, this program can start you on your journey to being a professional diver, while learning about critical ocean conservation.  

You’ll learn about the ecology of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System – the second-largest reef system in the world – and efforts to protect it. These include monitoring the corals, growing coral fragments in laboratories, and carrying out other research on the reef. 

If you already have your Open Water certificate, you can also join a program that will equip you with the PADI Advanced Open Water qualification. 

Explore the rainforest in Costa Rica

Join other like-minded teens from around the world on an unforgettable journey to the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve in Costa Rica! Explore the rich ecosystem of this breathtaking reserve while learning all about the unique species that call it home. You’ll discover how researchers, conservation organisations and national governments work together using data collection, input, and analysis to protect the natural environment.

Where can high school students volunteer? Chat to us today to find out more about the programs we offer in locations around the world. 

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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