Ready for an incredible Greek adventure? By supporting Wildlife Sense, you’ll play a vital role in conserving the loggerhead turtles nesting on the white sand beaches of Kefalonia, as well as the endangered green turtles that gracefully roam these waters. Capture nesting activity and provide protection to hatchlings as they embark on their first journey to the ocean (seasonal, not guaranteed). You’ll also participate in monitoring and surveying the diverse seagrass meadows, which serve as a vital habitat for an array of species, including sea turtles, monk seals (among the rarest and most endangered marine mammals), and various types of fish. Get ready to make a difference in this stunning corner of the world!
Based in the beautiful town of Argostoli, Kefalonia – the largest of the Ionian Islands – you’ll contribute to the protection of loggerhead turtle nesting areas and green turtle foraging areas in Greece. Working in conjunction with Wildlife Sense, our role involves assisting with monitoring and protection initiatives for the loggerhead sea turtles and green turtles of Kefalonia.
You’ll have the opportunity to actively contribute to the preservation of turtle habitats, including monitoring the behaviour of adult sea turtles, assessing injuries, protecting turtle nests and ensuring the safe passage of hatchlings to the water if necessary. You’ll also have the opportunity to share your passion for conservation with fellow international visitors and local community members, spreading the love for these incredible animals far and wide.
We’ll provide you with all the necessary training to make a meaningful impact and achieve the project’s objectives. And when you’re not busy with conservation efforts, explore the breathtaking sights of the surrounding area.
GVI has successfully been operating ethical and responsible programs for under 18s since 2012. Treating health and safety as a number one priority, GVI takes extra measures for its under 18 programs. As such, it is also a British Standards 8848 compliant provider. This project has been specially designed for those between 15 and 17 years who are looking to volunteer. Throughout the project, volunteers receive guidance and training from leaders who are experts in their field. These leaders have been carefully selected for their extensive experience and their exceptional ability to mentor and inspire young adults.
|24-hour emergency desk|
|24-hour in-country support|
|Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)|
|All project equipment|
|Food (except on long-term internship placements|
|Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)|
|Group introductory call|
|Endorsed GVI Specialisation Course|
|Endorsed Leadership Course|
|Sustainable project work|
|Data collection and research|
|Real projects with partners|
|Weekly group check ins|
|Remote Academic Internship Supervisor|
|Remote Career Internship Supervisor|
|Preferential recruitment on GVI positions|
|Job portal access|
|Endorsed Careers Course|
|Career coaching sessions|
Certificates and achievements
|PDF reference - upon request|
|Linkedin reference and skills endorsement|
|Additional drinks and gratuities|
|Extra local excursions|
|International and domestic airport taxes|
|Medical and travel insurance|
|Personal items and toiletries|
|Police or background check|
Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands in Greece. Wake up to breathtaking views from our base in Argostoli, which is a five-minute walk from the beach. Mornings are spent finding turtle nests and hatchlings, surveying sea grass or monitoring turtles behaviour and health from the harbour. Afternoons include beach cleanups and snorkel surveys. Your evenings might involve nest checks, excavations, creating shading for hatchlings. Between your survey shifts, you’ll have plenty of time to soak up the sun on the sandy white beaches on your doorstep, or relax with your fellow teammates back at the campsite. The climate is hot and can get humid, but living so close to the beach, you’ll be able to cool down with a quick dip in the sea. End the day watching the sunset over the Mediterranean.
The accommodation is in tents located in a section of campsite – allowing you to enjoy Greece’s coastal beauty from the campsite’s beach, while k...
We provide transfers from the airport to the accommodation in Argostoli, which is about a 30-minute drive. The beach is a 5-minute walk from the ...
You’ll have limited access to long-distance communications whilst on the program, so make sure your friends and family know how often they can ex...
Breakfast is a mixture of foods such as cereal, toast, fresh fruit and tea/coffee on offer. Lunch is eaten either at the campsite restaurant or a...
Greece gets very hot during the summer months of June to August (sometimes reaching up to 40ºC!), so make sure to bring your bathing suit. The se...
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.
On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.
While Greece is a secular state, the majority of the population identify with the Greek Orthodox Church faith....
Greece has a thriving tourist souvenir industry, and sells many locally made souvenirs such as hand woven carpets and rugs, beautifully decorated jewellery, and leather items. G...
A large part of Greek cuisine features fresh Mediterranean ingredients, often featuring staples such as pita bread, olive oil, and feta cheese. Some of the traditional dishes Gr...
The Greek people’s most notable holiday is the celebration of Greek Independence Day on the 25th of March. There are also many festivals throughout the year, such as the Patras ...
Greek is the official language of Greece and spoken by the vast majority of the population. Other languages spoken in the country are Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Arumanian an...
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If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Wildlife Sense’s project in Argostoli operates a science-based research and conservation project on the island, in collaboration with local and national authorities.
We work to safeguard the loggerhead sea turtles and their breeding sites and green turtles and their foraging sites along the coast of Greece by supporting Wildlife Sense’s efforts. This is done by protecting nests, monitoring turtle activity, collecting data, excavating nests and monitoring seagrass and surveying to record changes. During these activities, you’ll have the opportunity to share your knowledge with international tourists and members of the local community – assisting with developing the awareness of sea turtles.
We assist in the conservation of endangered sea turtles and address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as Goal 14: Life Below Water, Goal 15: Life On Land, Goal 17: Partnerships For Goals, and Goal 11: Sustainable Cities And Communities.
GVI Kefalonia Long-term Objectives:
1. Support Wildlife Sense in documenting nesting activities for a loggerhead nesting site in the Mediterranean. This can provide evidence of the importance of continued protection of this endangered species and its ecosystem.
2. Support Wildlife Sense in carrying out seagrass surveys to monitor green turtle foraging areas in the Mediterranean.This can provide evidence of the importance of continued protection of this endangered species and its ecosystem.
3. Contribute to the efforts of our local partner Wildlife Sense to protect marine animals in Kefalonia.
4. Reduce the amount of plastic pollution in the turtles’ nesting area.
5. Educate participants on environmentally sustainable practices and the importance and impact of climate change.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.
Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.
Each one of our initiatives is aligned to objectives set by a local organisation or professional. Our staff and participants work to support these local actors in achieving their specific goals.
Our participants don’t replace the staff employed by local organisations. Rather, they support currently employed staff with achieving their objectives. Our goal is always to increase local capacity to address local problems.
Participants require training and support to ensure that they carry out tasks correctly. Our staff provide this training and support so that local staff can focus on what is truly important to their organisation at the time.
We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos
We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases
When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.
We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.
We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.
Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.
Learn about what seagrass is, its importance, how it is formed, and how this ecosystem works.
An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.
Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.
Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.
Learn how to conduct research, such as monitoring the beach for turtle tracks and nests, and where to find the egg chamber. You will also learn how to put measures in place to protect nests and capture data, such as the number of nests on the beach.
Monitoring Induction training from our local partner, that has been conducting conservation research in this area since 2012.
Leadership is a critical skill set for anyone looking to make an impact or drive sustainable development. Develop your own leadership style and learn how to set achievable objectives, give effective feedback and manage conflict successfully. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.
This online course, valued at £295, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.
The Award Scheme and Development Accreditation Network (ASDAN) Universities Award is an internationally-recognized certification which can be requested for any participant who has completed a GVI teen program. The award can be added to personal statements to boost college or university applications. The course involves introducing students to exploring skills like global awareness through volunteer travel and career paths through work activities.
Young British nationals looking to earn their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and improve their employability can use GVI’s teen programs to complete several of the required components like volunteering, physical fitness, skills-development, completing an expedition, and learning how to thrive in a residential context. The Duke of Edinburgh Award can be used to enhance your personal statement on your UCAS application.
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays ju...
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the heal...
The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes ...
Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations a...