ECOLOGY PROJECT INTERNATIONAL

Conservation for the next generation

aka EPI   |   Missoula, MT   |  www.ecologyproject.org

Mission

Our mission is to inspire and empower the world’s youth through immersive experiences with nature and science. We envision environmentally literate communities creating a vibrant, sustainable future.

Ruling year info

2001

Executive Director

Mr. Brant Warren

Managing Director

Mr. John Kamman

Main address

315 South 4th Street East

Missoula, MT 59801 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

91-2163952

NTEE code info

Secondary/High School (B25)

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

EPI is the only organization that involves young people from Latin America and the U.S. in hands-on science and conservation projects throughout the Americas. We bridge cultural gaps, protect threatened species and habitat, and empower the next generation of conservation leaders, one student at a time.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Sea Turtle Ecology Program

This program site is situated near one of the world’s most important and active nesting sites for leatherback sea turtles. This location puts youth at the nexus of conservation and local culture, where they will be face-to-face with the environmental, scientific, and cultural forces that shape the region. Each night during the leatherback nesting season, participants accompany instructors and researchers in search of turtles and their nests to study population trends and protect the nests from tides, illegal harvesting, and other threats.

During their time in the field, participants volunteer with Latin American conservation institutions conducting vital, difference-making research. Without the work of these groups, leatherback sea turtles might already be extinct. Students conceive, develop, analyze, and present a field-based research project and attend biology, tropical ecology, art, and journaling classes. Scientists will use this work to help improve conservation efforts for turtles.

More than half of our program participants are Costa Rican. Youth from different countries share perspectives and ideas, learn how turtles fit into Costa Rica's culture, and discover why turtles were valued historically and how that’s evolving. This cultural interaction is often among the most memorable student experiences.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Economically disadvantaged people
People of Central American descent

Working side-by-side with scientists in the Galapagos National Park, students help improve conservation efforts for the archipelago. Projects address crucial issues such as species survival and habitat improvement. Participants work hands-on with tortoises, help remove invasive plants, collect important data, and restore critical habitat needed by native and endemic species.

This program includes more than 20 hours of field research in many of the Park’s wildest and least visited reaches, plus another 40 hours of coursework and instruction in tortoise biology, island biogeography, Galapagos conservation, art, and journaling. Students conceive, develop, analyze, and present a field-based research project using data you collect. They also have the opportunity to snorkel in the life-rich waters of the Galapagos Marine Reserve and explore the archipelago.

More than half of the program participants are from Galapagos, which ensures a unique cultural exchange opportunity for international students who participate. After each group completes the field research, students meet their international peers at local schools where they give joint presentations, share research data, collaborate, and come to see conservation from new perspectives.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Economically disadvantaged people
People of South American descent

EPI's Baja Whale Ecology Program allows participants the rare chance to join a whale research project in the Gulf of California, a World Heritage Site and home to 39 percent of the world’s marine mammal species. This program is an amazing opportunity to assist scientists in an authentic research project focusing on endangered marine mammals. Jump onboard our research boat, and be an active collaborator in international conservation efforts helping the largest animals on the planet.

Participants learn how to identify varied species — grey and humpback whales — as well as spot pods of swimming dolphins. Students contribute to the study and protection of these magnificent creatures in addition to working directly with them. The curriculum includes instruction and activities on cetacean identification, biology, and ecology, along with conservation biology, journal writing, scientific method, research techniques, Spanish, and art.

The Gulf of California is a World Heritage Site. While it remains a remarkably rich ecosystem, it is slowly being diminished by human impacts - from commercial fishing to pollution. The work being done here to catalog and study species is important to understand the impact and how to minimize it. EPI participants get up close and personal with life in and around Baja California Sur. They spend a week studying the unique biology and ecology of the land and sea and collect data on endemic species.

The final three days of the program are spent on the Baja Peninsula, Mexico. Several local schools work with EPI, and U.S. participants visit one of them to share insights and collaborate with Mexican students. Students also participate in a service project with one of our local partners, such as trail building for the national park or an aquaculture project for a local non-governmental organization.

In our Marine Science program, students from small fishing communities in the corridor between La Paz and Loreto pair with scientists on a fisheries study that is evaluating the new network of marine refugia that has been established in the Gulf of Mexico between San Cosme and Punta Coyote. This study could inform the design of the network and impact conservation of local marine species of commercial importance for the region.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Economically disadvantaged people
People of Central American descent

Yellowstone is among the few remaining intact islands of North American wilderness. Conservation work helps keep it that way. This renowned destination is home to iconic American animals and landscapes — the bald eagle, American bison, grizzly bear, Old Faithful, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and more. Through our Yellowstone Ecology Program, students from Montana, across the U.S. and abroad, work with local institutions like the Nature Conservancy and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks build on the great tradition of conservation in this remarkable place.

During time in the field, students volunteer to work with regional conservation institutions conducting a wide variety of studies and projects. Under the leadership of our outstanding instructors, participants conceive, develop, analyze, and present a field-based research project and attend classes in wildlife biology, terrestrial ecology, art, and journaling. You’ll discuss the conflicts caused by bison, grizzlies, and wolves leaving the park and talk about solutions. There are even opportunities to make on-the-ground differences through habitat restoration projects, such as pulling fence to open up migratory corridors for wildlife.

A visit to Yellowstone is an opportunity to experience the history of two great influences — the opening up of the west and the subsequent tourist economy. Youth come to understand how the migration west in the late 1800s nearly destroyed America’s wildest places and how tourism to parks like Yellowstone protected those places and led to the reintroduction of bison and wolves. Students also visit an area high school to get a local perspective on wildlife conflicts, conservation tourism and more.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Economically disadvantaged people
American Indians

Belize’s coastline is home to 80% of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System—the second largest barrier reef in the world. Belize stewards a global marine treasure that faces threats from fishing, development, resource extraction, and climate change. Participants in the Belize Marine Ecology Program partner with scientists from the Toledo Institute of Development and Education (TIDE) and other conservation organizations to contribute to ongoing research and conservation efforts focused on protecting key marine species such as the endangered manatee.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Economically disadvantaged people
People of Caribbean descent
People of Central American descent

Where we work

Awards

Winner - Conde Nast World Traveler Challenge 2009

Conde Nast

Best Monitoring and Evaluation 2011

Eco-Index, Rainforest Alliance

Montana Math and Science award 2011

State of Montana Governor's Office

Achiever 2010

Sustainable Business Council

Cool Green Office 2012

Montana Radio Company

Best Places to Work 2013

Outside Magazine

Employer of Choice Award 2013

Missoula's Job Service

Blanche Hornbeck Award for Outstanding Work in the Field of Nature Education 2010

Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History

Employee Transportation Best Practices (2004, 2010-2013, 2015) 2015

Missoula in Motion

Schmidheiny Award 2020

Viva IDEA

Power Partnership Award 2019

Montana Environmental Education Association

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of participants attending course/session/workshop

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Teachers, At-risk youth, American Indians, People of Central American descent

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total annual participants engaged in EPI field courses, alumni and outreach activities across all sites.

Percent of students who are local to their EPI program site

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, American Indians, People of Central American descent

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

EPI is strongly committed to local communities. Local personnel manage EPI program sites, our courses are taught by local instructors, and 4/5 of our students live close to their program site.

Number of field participants

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, American Indians, People of Central American descent, People of South American descent, Teachers

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Direct experiences with wildlife inspire youth to conservation stewardship. Immersive field courses allow EPI to leverage nature as a teacher, along with scientists and our proven ecology curriculum.

Number of participant days of engagement

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In recent years, we have increased the quantity and variety of follow-up activities to continue supporting youth once they have completed EPI field courses.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Ecology Project International (EPI) envisions an ecologically literate society in which the world's youth are empowered to take an active role in conservation. EPI operates on the principle that involving local residents in conservation addresses the root causes of resource depletion and environmental degradation, and is critical to the success of conservation efforts. Our work—partnering adolescents with field-based scientific researchers in Belize, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Mexico, and Montana—demonstrates how experiential learning can change attitudes and empower youth to tackle conservation issues. EPI's transformative work began in 2000 and we continue our successful model to create more ecologically literate, empowered youth who affect conservation worldwide. EPI will focus on deeper and broader work over the next decade; to reach more people for a longer period of time, and ensure the work we're doing is solid, best in class, and lasting.

Since 2000, our main strategies for empowering lasting local conservation leadership have been:

PROGRAM DELIVERY: Continually improving our core nature and science immersion programs through strengthening academic content and refining and responding to our participants’ pre- and post-course environmental literacy evaluations.

BUILDING SCIENTIFIC PARTNERSHIPS: Ensuring all sites have at least one post-graduate level science partner, and student data is being utilized for real-life conservation application and policy.

SUPPORTING LOCAL STUDENTS THROUGH VISITING STUDENT TUITION: Filling programs and courses to 90% capacity while achieving an overall average 60:40 local to visiting participant ratio. Determining true cost of delivery for each student, developing a system to communicate it effectively, and maximizing visiting participant tuition to support local student involvement.

EXPANDING PROGRAMMING: Provide increasing staff support for and continued scientific partnership opportunities for local student alumni and the larger community through: eco clubs, symposia, internships, workshops, conservation service opportunities, and field trips.

STRENGTHENING DONOR RELATIONSHIPS: Developing communications strategies that support unrestricted revenue generation, increasing the number of major donors and prospects, and prioritizing grants that cover salaries and administrative costs. Particularly in the face of COVID-19, retaining the vast pool of senior staff knowledge will be critical to our future success.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of our revenue came from earned income (via student tuition), with the remaining funds coming from individual donations and grants. This diversity of funding sources ensures that EPI does not become over-dependent on any one source of income. Over time, it has become clear that this is a prudent and sustainable funding model. In addition to our staffing and financial capabilities, EPI also has strong partnerships at our field sites in Costa Rica, the Galapagos, Mexico, Belize, and Montana. Our partners are governmental agencies, local and international non-profits, and schools (high school and college). These partnerships provide our students with a diverse array of perspectives pertaining to science and conservation, and allow them to make connections to facilitate their education and careers. EPI continuously seeks advisors, volunteers, and financial supporters to help us in achieving our goals.

In 2019 EPI engaged more students and had a greater impact on conservation than ever before. Local youth across five countries in North, Central, and South America got involved in hands-on science and conservation projects, engaged their peers, and made a difference in the world. We connected cultures and empowered the next generation of conservation leaders.

Highlights included:
Provided more educational days to our students, with a 14% increase in participant days to 22,474
Celebrated our 45,000th participant
Partnered with the Galapagos National Park and Ministry of Education on a new initiative that grants credits to 200 Galapagos high school students who participate in EPI's program

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.),

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    During a recent alumni survey, an overwhelming number of previous participants indicated that they'd like to receive information from EPI that they could use to improve sustainability in their homes and communities. We received feedback that our alumni are also interested in EPI's ability to connect recently graduated students with opportunities for professional development, internships, and career advancements. In response, EPI has shifted its social media calendar to provide information and access to workshops, job openings, and other ways for our audience to stay connected with conservation and community engagement.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

ECOLOGY PROJECT INTERNATIONAL
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

ECOLOGY PROJECT INTERNATIONAL

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Aaron Hirsh

Writer and Research Associate, University of Colorado-Boulder

Term: 2019 - 2022


Board co-chair

Mrs. Lynn Price

Senior Scientist (retired) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Julie Osborn

Co-founder, Ecology Project International

Steve McCarthy

Founder and Vice President, Systems Engineering Associates Inc.

Charles Holmes

Owner, CE Holmes Consulting Inc.

Laura Iza

Legal Counselor, CEO ecomarshé

Trent Baker

Shareholder Attorney, Datsopoulos MacDonald & Lind P.C

Lynn Price

Senior Advisor, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Steve Anderson

CFP, Navion Financial Advisors

Si White

Chief Financial Officer, The Packard Humanities Institute

Nicole Boyer

Managing Director, Adaptive Edge

Maureen Eldredge

Attorney, Hutchinson, Black, & Cook, LLC

David Wilson

President, Triple C Management

Mike den Haan

Principal, MDH & Associates

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/15/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data