Canada
Location
4 weeks
Duration
18+
Age
Tourist Visa
Visa
May – August
Dates

The Mountains are Calling -

Travel to Banff in the Canadian Rockies!

This program is so much more than just a volunteer experience!

The world is facing new and increasingly complex environmental, social and economic challenges that are making the conservation of nature more urgent and critical than ever before. To protect its finite and precious wilderness and wildlife, the world needs more leaders who can lead by example, inspire others and launch and manage more sustainable conservation initiatives.

This program is designed to create new conservation leaders and inspire them to make an impact while giving participants the experience of a lifetime!

Good news: We are now accepting applications for the 2023 season!

Why Banff National Park?

Banff National Park is the perfect setting for fun, hands-on learning and giving back to Canada’s flagship national park. Banff experiences the social and environmental impacts of “overtourism” and volunteers are involved in monitoring, measuring and mitigating the impacts of 4.3 million visitors on the delicate mountain ecosystem with iconic wildlife such as grizzly bears, wolves and cougars.

Banff has led the way in “ecological integrity” in the world, and participants in this program get to experience and learn about this first-hand while honing their observational, critical thinking, outdoor and leadership skills.

PARKS CANADA: A COMMUNITY THAT STRIVES TO LEAD, INSPIRE, TRAIN AND GUIDE

Volunteers will meet and work with a wide variety of Parks Canada staff from every department (Visitor Experience, Resource Conservation, Heritage Programs, Trades and Assets etc.), local park volunteers (Park Stewards) and other groups that volunteer (youth groups, corporate groups, outdoor clubs). The group leader will be an experienced Parks Canada summer student staff who will guide your group every day on your volunteer activities and leadership process. The group leader is a graduate of the Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership program.

Volunteer Activities

Hike and report on trail conditions, interact with visitors, observe and report on park infractions, wildlife sightings.

Be on patrol at day use areas and viewpoints and interact with visitors from all over the world.

Maintain the wildlife fence.

Assist on environmental science, research and monitoring projects

Help with restoration projects including removal of invasive species, clean ups, native plantings

Participate in and help out at special events, cultural heritage programming, indigenous ceremonies, and social science and help with responsible promotions through use of social media.

Other special projects, as needed, include: fingerboard and signage building, painting picnic tables.

Leadership Training

The group leader will guide volunteers throughout the four weeks on their leadership development including but not limited to:

Week 1 – Explore leadership theories, share areas of interest in conservation work and personal goals and generate project ideas (facilitated by Tina Barzo, Banff National Park’s Leader of Volunteer Engagement, who is also a recent graduate of a Masters of Arts in Leadership)

Week 2 – Connect, commit and start personal goals and project ideas

Week 3 – Put it all into practice and grow / broaden personal goals, conservation work and leadership skills

Week 4 – Creatively present to the group the result and the plan to continue

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ONLINE COURSE IN CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP

Included in your program fees is the chance to take part in a 4-week self-guided online course in Conservation Leadership, which is being facilitated by Volunteer Engagement staff of Banff National Park.

By participating in this valuable course, you will not only learn about current conservation efforts at Banff National Park directly from the source, but also come up with your own ideas on how to tackle environmental problems. Through group discussions and weekly assignments, you will develop a project, which will hopefully help the park with a specific conversation challenge they are facing.

The course will be held online, pre-arrival to Canada. Projects can be research-based, knowledge-gathering, build on previous projects, and ideally should have in-field components. Projects will also improve participants’ understanding of and involvement in conservation in Banff National Park.

The course consists of a series of modules that include self-directed group work and online research. Minimum time commitment is at least 1-2 hours per week, but you are always encouraged to do more; for example by participating in the online forum or developing your project further.

Learning Outcomes

By participating in this valuable course in Conservation Leadership, you will…

Receive a Certificate in Conservation Leadership

Be prepared well for your volunteer program in the parks (e.g. through additional information on conservation leadership)

Find out more about conservation efforts and challenges in Banff National Park

Design, develop and advance your own conservation project

Join interesting discussions regarding former and current conservation efforts, as well as your peers’ projects

Foster your intercultural communication, team-building and leadership skills by working in groups

Start Dates 2023

Session Accommodation Check-in First Day Orientation Last Day of Work Accommodation Check-out
1 Tues-June 13 Wed-June 14 Sun-July 09 Mon-July 10
2 Tues-July 11 Wed-July 12 Sun-Aug 06 Mon-Aug 07
3 Tues-Aug 08 Wed-Aug 09 Sun-Sept 03 Mon-Sept 04

“This amazing leadership and volunteer certificate program is set in Banff National Park, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies UNESCO World Heritage Site.

While on this epic adventure, you will have fun, challenge yourself mentally and physically, learn about current conservation challenges, practice and develop leadership skills, gain international work experience and first-hand, behind-the-scenes knowledge of Canada’s conservation strategies and park operations while you contribute to conservation in Canada’s busiest national park.

Your actions will protect Canada’s iconic wildlife and their natural habitat. You will also develop leadership, life, and communication skills that you can take with you and apply for the rest of your life.”

– Tina Barzo, Leader of Volunteer Engagement, Banff National Park.

Volunteer Placement for 4 weeks in Banff National Park

Living and Working in Canada orientation (optional)

A welcome package (e.g. Volunteer Handbook, articles on park wildlife, etc.)

1 day orientation and training in Banff, AB

Option to receive Banff & Lake Louise Ambassador Pass for tons of discounts in the area (valued up to $1,400 CAD!)

Certificate in Conservation Leadership online course (tbc for 2023)

Support from the GO International Volunteer Team Leader in Vancouver while on your project

Emergency Contact number

What’s not included:

Airfare and transport to Banff

Visa Fees

Medical insurance

Accommodation in Banff

Meals during the program

Hiking equipment (e.g. hiking shoes, day backpack…)

TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE PROGRAM:

  • Canadian and international volunteers welcome!
  • Minimum age required: 18 years
  • You have to be eligible to receive a tourist visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
  • Be open-minded, flexible, and self-motivated
  • Have good judgment; can be depended upon to work with the public in a positive manner and to behave in a safe manner, on and off duty
  • Strong ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Good observation skills, basic map-reading ability, intermediate hiking skills and knowledge
  • Have at least low intermediate English skills (you can take English classes beforehand if you are not there yet)
  • You will be required to fill out a medical form and disclose any pre-existing injuries or health issues

* Please note that we are not able to provide a Letter of Support for your visa application to Canada. You must be able and eligible to get a visa on your own.

BANFF NATIONAL PARK

Banff National Park is famous for its brightly colored lakes, majestic mountains and endless outdoor adventures. As Canada’s first national park and the world’s third, it has a rich heritage as one of the world’s most awe-inspiring mountain destinations.

What makes Banff National Park so special is its easy access and close proximity to the vast unspoiled wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. The park spans 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 square miles) of mountainous terrain, packed with spectacularly scenic valleys, peaks, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers.

The bustling town of Banff and hamlet of Lake Louise are uniquely located in the National Park. You feel truly immersed in the mountains and close to nature when you visit Banff & Lake Louise.

– Banff and Lake Louise Tourism

Candidates should have strong interpersonal, communications, and problem solving skills, strong ability to work independently and as part of a team, and be an enthusiastic person who stays positive in less than perfect circumstances.

Candidates should also have a desire to work hard, make a difference, and a willingness to remain flexible and positive through ever changing project work, locations, and weather conditions.

Volunteers must be physically fit, have proper clothing and hiking gear (footwear must have tread suitable for trail hiking), and able to do some periodic heavy lifting and hiking in mountain areas.

Please contact us if you have questions about footwear or what to bring. Candidates who come with footwear not appropriate for mountain activity will be required to buy it or will not be allowed to participate in group activities that require it.

The first full day is an interactive “boot camp” style orientation at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.

Participants will receive a detailed schedule, uniforms, information packages, safety and project-specific training and the group will get to know each other.

In the afternoon, there will be a guided, interpreted hike up Sleeping Buffalo (a local mountain) with the leaders to check physical conditioning and gear.

Training is continuous and hands-on at each and every activity plus the leadership process, where the participants will develop personal leadership and a conservation leadership project. Everything will be facilitated.

Projects include:

Hike and report on trail conditions, interact with visitors, observe and report on park infractions, wildlife sightings.

Be on patrol at day use areas and viewpoints and interact with visitors from all over the world

Maintain the wildlife fence.

Assist on environmental science, research and monitoring projects

Help with restoration projects including removal of invasive species, clean ups, native plantings

Participate in and help out at special events, cultural heritage programming, indigenous ceremonies, and social science and help with responsible promotions through use of social media.

Other special projects, as needed, include: fingerboard and signage building, painting picnic tables.

Schedule will typically be Wednesday to Sunday, and volunteers will be busy with formal activities approximately 40 hours per week, with 2-3 days off per week.

Arriving and departing Banff is the responsibility of the volunteer. We recommend flying into Calgary, and taking a bus from the Calgary airport and using one of the airport services from Banff back to the airport in Calgary.

Bus from Calgary to Banff & Banff back to Calgary:

Brewsters or Banff Airporter: www.brewster.ca / www.banffairporter.com.

There is also the option to take a Moose Travel Company bus tour from Vancouver to Banff: www.moosenetwork.com

Detailed arrival information will be sent to the volunteer pre-departure.

A shuttle will be provided from a central location in town to activity locations.

Public transit is available in and around the Banff townsite.

Volunteers will live primarily in Samesun Hostel (contact us for the price list for accommodation fees).

The volunteers will share bed dorm-style rooms, with spacious and lockable storage in each room (all linen included) and will have access to laundry facilities. The benefit to being together in the same hostel is for team-building and quickly sharing information. The hostel is located on Tunnel Mountain and is a short bus ride to downtown. The volunteers also have the option of borrowing bikes from the volunteer program for their entire stay.

Volunteers will be responsible for purchasing their own food and cooking their meals at the accommodation using the two fully equipped kitchens and a large dining area.The hostel also offers a large common lounge with fireplace and free Wi-Fi.

You can find your own accommodation if you have a contact in Banff or Canmore who is willing to give you room and board, or you book your own room, homestay or hostel. Keep in mind if you are based in Canmore, you will also need to purchase a Roam bus pass to commute into Banff daily.

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