Educational Institutions

ECOLOGY PROJECT INTERNATIONAL

Conservation for the next generation

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

Mission

Ecology Project International improves and inspires science education and conservation efforts worldwide through field-based student-scientist partnerships. We envision an ecologically literate society where the world's youth are empowered to take an active role in conservation.

Ruling year info

2001

Executive Director

Mr. Scott Pankratz

Co Principal Officer

Julie Osborn

Main address

315 South 4th Street East

Missoula, MT 59801 USA

Show more addresses

EIN

91-2163952

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Secondary/High School (B25)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

IRS filing requirement

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

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016.
Register now

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, poachers 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 (13-19 years)
Budget
$570,910

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 via
a live-aboard yacht.

More than half of 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 (13-19 years)
Indigenous people
Budget
$655,935

EPI's Baja Whale Ecology Program allows participants the rare chance to join a
whale research project in the Sea of Cortez, 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 on board our
research boat, and be an active collaborator in international
conservation efforts helping the largest animals on the planet.

Participants will spend five days and four nights searching the sea for
whales aboard the Pez Sapo (local slang for the giant whale shark). Participants learn how to identify varied species — blue, fin 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 Sea of Cortez 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 understanding 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 Coastal Ecology program, students from small fishing communities in the corridor between La Paz and Loreto pair with scientists on a fisheries study which 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 (13-19 years)
Budget
$726,685

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 (13-19 years)
Budget
$224,564

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 MAR Alliance, University of Belize, and other conservation organizations to contribute to ongoing research and conservation efforts focused on protecting key marine species. With MAR Alliance, students will help collect biometric data on threatened shark, ray, and finned fish populations to help improve conservation efforts. With the University of Belize, participants help collect data on invasive lionfish for studies aimed at understanding the impact that this highly predatory species is having on native fish populations, and help determine what can be done to restore the reef.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)
Budget
$423,130

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

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 (13-19 years)

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 (13-19 years)

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 (13-19 years)

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 (13-19 years)

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

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

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

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. Based on EPI's transformative work over the last 15 years and successful model in creating 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.

Program Delivery: Enhance EPI's core field programs by strengthening academic content, scientific partnerships, and evaluation. • Expand EPI's field programs: Expand EPI's core field programs: Fill programs and courses to 90% capacity while achieving an average 60/40 local/visiting/participant ratio. • Scientific partners: Ensure all sites have a post-graduate level science partner and student data are being utilized. • Strengthen academic content, scientific partnerships, and evaluation: Extend curriculum and evaluation revisions to all sites. • Strengthen communications: Develop communications strategy that supports unrestricted revenue generation. •Increase number of major donors and prospects and prioritize grants that cover salaries and administrative costs. • Optimize tuition pricing: Determine true cost of delivery for each student, develop a system to communicate it effectively, and maximize visiting participant tuition above pure direct costs (operational contribution).

Over half of our revenue comes 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.

The indicators used to measure progress towards our goals, to be completed by 2016, are as follows: <br/>Scale EPI's Core Programs: - Number of participants/year at branches- Percent capacity at branches- Number of dissemination activities implemented- Number of affiliation programs tested- Number of participants reached via affiliation <br/><br/>Empower Alumni: 20% of alumni enrolled in network- Establish and promote 3 annual opportunities with collaborating organizations per site- Established alumni leadership program per site<br/>Program Delivery: Achieve enrollment goals for visiting and local students, number of post-graduate level science partners per site, number of sites participating in new evaluation process, and number of staff that visits students in the field.<br/>Financial Health: Percent increase in unrestricted revenue, reach target in reserve fund

In 2015 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 Piloted a new 18-day Research Expedition in Costa Rica that sent participants coast to coast to delve deep into sea turtle conservation Celebrated our 30,000th 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 Piloted our first-ever Yellowstone winter program - engaging a total of 38 participants in 3 courses focused on rare carnivore research

Financials

ECOLOGY PROJECT INTERNATIONAL
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our 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.

Operations

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

lock

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.

lock

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 6/13/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Lisa Hogen

Independent Fundraising Consultant

Term: 2012 - 2020


Board co-chair

Aaron Hirsh

Vermilion Sea Institute

Term: 2017 - 2021

Julie Osborn

Ecology Project International

Steve McCarthy

Systems Engineering Associates Inc.

Scott Pankratz

Ecology Project International

Charles Holmes

CE Holmes Consulting Inc.

Laura Iza

Mexico Chapter Director, Legal Atlas

Dylan Charles

Digital Bridge Partners

Trent Baker

Datsopoulos MacDonald & Lind P.C

Lynn Price

Senior Advisor, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Lisa Hogen

Kiva.org

Steve Anderson

CFP, Navion Financial Advisors

Dylan Charles

Channel Cloud Consulting

Adam Hirsh

Vermillion Sea Institute

John Westgarth

Plangea, Inc.

Christy Miele

Yoga4Teens

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

Keywords

conservation, education, cultural exchange, service-learning, sea turtles, whales, youth, Latin America