A wild way to learn

Student volunteering abroad

The world is big, full of beautiful, diverse, exhilarating places and people. Experiencing and exploring this world is an exciting privilege that can broaden your horizons, introduce you to new and life-changing perspectives, allow you to hone a new skill set before entering the professional world, and give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see remote habitats and wonderful communities that you might otherwise not have the chance to encounter.

Our projects are driven by a core mission: positive impact. GVI is committed to sustainable, meaningful change alongside both our local project participants and our global partners. If you’re looking to make an impactful difference in conservation or community development efforts while seeing new countries and experiencing diverse cultures, GVI’s student volunteer programs are for you.

Critical science

Critical science

You'll contribute to vital conservation research targeted at protecting the earth's most valuable ecosystems.
Ethical engagement

Ethical engagement

Using the UN's SDGs as a framework, we've made a commitment to positive, constructive and sustainable impact.
Beautiful adventures

Beautiful adventures

You'll spend your days exploring some of the world's most breathtaking, exhilarating and remote wildernesses.

What is student volunteering all about?


You want to see the world. Experience new places and learn about new cultures. We know that travel is important to you – as important as doing something that will make a meaningful contribution to our planet. We get it. That’s why we offer a variety of student volunteering opportunities – where you can boost your personal and professional skills while contributing to sustainable conservation projects around the world.

Our volunteer programs cater to student volunteers with a variety of interests and at different stages of their studies. Maybe you’re looking to take a gap year between high school and college. Or you’ve finished your studies and are looking to gain work experience before starting your career. Whether you’re in search of adventure and looking to travel, or you want to improve your employability by showcasing your international experience, we have the perfect volunteer program for you. International experience shows potential employers you’re able to get out of your comfort zone and handle situations that you wouldn’t necessarily encounter in your home country. This, in turn, shows personal growth and maturity, making you a stand-out candidate when it comes to employment.

Volunteering abroad with us allows you to improve your job prospects and develop yourself through new experiences by learning “soft skills” that are helpful in the working world. Attributes such as social skills, communication, teamwork, responsibility and work ethics will allow you to better interact and work in a professional setting. 

Plus, you’ll meet people from all over the world who are on the same path as you. Our volunteer abroad programs allow for plenty of fun activities and free time, meaning you’ll be able to sightsee, visit the surrounding areas of the country you’re in and spend time with your fellow participants – many of whom become friends for life after meeting on a student volunteer program. 

If you’re in high school, we have a range of under 18 volunteer programs specially designed for teens. Created for high school students between the ages of 15 and 17, when you join a teen volunteer program, you can support environmental initiatives in wildlife and marine conservation or education and community development projects. Included in our teen programs are cultural excursions where you’ll get to see and learn about the country you’re visiting. We’ve been running teen volunteer programs since 2012 (some of which are award-winning) so you’re in safe hands when you decide to volunteer with us. You can visit our page on teen volunteering which outlines all the details of our teen programs – from flights and accommodation to what your daily activities look like, as well as testimonials from past participants. 

All of our student volunteer abroad programs are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and offer 360-degree support from our team. When you join a program we’ll take care of all the details for you – all you need to do is decide which program is the one for you. From wildlife research in South Africa to volunteering with elephants in Thailand, the hardest part will be deciding which program you want to join. Feel free to contact one of our enrolment managers who will be able to assist you with matching the right program to your needs.

Whether you’re looking to further your knowledge in your field of studies or you’re still deciding which career path you want to pursue, we also have a range of online courses and programs to choose from. From ethics in sustainable development to foundations in wildlife conservation, our onlines courses and programs are run by experts in their fields and on completion of the course you’ll receive a certificate. Accredited by the University of Richmond, your certificate can be added to your CV, job applications and LinkedIn profile.

Volunteering abroad is a well-proven way to improve your CV and make your job application unique. As a student volunteer you’ll experience international travel, cultural exchange, gain greater self-confidence and practical professional experience. With competition for jobs becoming fiercer and fiercer, these attributes will make you stand out from the crowd with potential employers.

We have seen many of our alumni, who are our past student volunteers, go on to successfully find jobs and careers relating to their volunteering experience. Indeed, 50% of our own staff were once volunteers or interns at GVI! This speaks to the fact that GVI’s volunteers enjoy their time with us so much that they want to make it a permanent situation. 

As the volunteers are so well trained and skilled, this makes them a valuable addition to GVI, or any other organisation in the future. Having this unique and practical volunteering experience on your CV will certainly improve your chances of getting a job and kick-starting your career.

Not sure which program is right for you? We offer volunteer opportunities for students in over a dozen countries, with a focus on wildlife conservation and marine conservation. Maybe you want to spend your summer holiday seeing a new country. Or you want to spend your gap year travelling the world and experiencing new cultures while working on sustainable projects that contribute to the survival of certain species and development of local communities. When joining a volunteer program abroad you could assist with sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica, conduct coral research in Fiji or obtain your PADI diving qualification while contributing to marine conservation efforts in Mexico. Our volunteer programs run from two to 12 weeks so you can come for as long or as short as you’d like.

We also have a wide range of community-based projects around the world which assist local communities through locally-led initiatives with a focus on early childhood development, education, women’s empowerment, sport, public health, community development and construction.

Our programs allow students to see the world while offering them invaluable career development opportunities. GVI offers outstanding international internships in locations across the world. These internships run for six to 24 weeks – allowing you to become fully immersed in the culture and to thoroughly explore the country.

We have a variety of student internship opportunities available. These include gaining expertise in wildlife conservation, marine conservation or animal care. Interns are provided with hands-on experience that impacts their future career and contributes towards key global issues across a variety of fields.

All our internships include:

  • an exclusive GVI leadership training course
  • extensive field training and equipment
  • weekly one-on-one staff mentorship sessions
  • a confidential professional recommendation on completion of your course
  • after a successful internship, qualifying candidates may be given the opportunity to

work for GVI or selected partner organisations.

If travelling isn’t an option for you right now, we also offer virtual internships where you’ll receive mentorship, career guidance, take part in live masterclasses and gain real project experience. On completion of your virtual internship, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond as well as a LinkedIn recommendation. Our virtual internships focus on:

If you’re more interested in an internship in the field of community development (including women’s empowerment, gender equality, public health, sports, construction and teaching English), we offer internship programs around the world. Head over to our People site, where you’ll find a full list of our community development programs. We also offer virtual internships which are perfect for students looking to gain some real world experience while completing their studies.

GVI operates in countries all around the world. So whether you’re looking for a tropical island or a mountainous countryside experience, GVI has got you covered. We work across five continents:

We follow a locally-led approach on all our programs. This means we work in collaboration with local partner organisations and community members and align our projects with the specific needs identified by the community. 

The partners we work with provide a vital link to ensuring the projects we work on run efficiently and benefit the communities we work in. 

When you volunteer on a sea turtle conservation program in Thailand, you’ll work at a local nursery run by the Royal Thai Navy. Our base in Limpopo, South Africa is located on the Karongwe Game Reserve and has a number of partners, including Elephants Alive, the University of Mpumalanga, Stellenbosch University and Bournemouth University. GVI has been actively collecting data on Karongwe since 2001, with studies including the cheetah metapopulation and their kill utilisation, lion spatial distribution, and elephant impact. In Madagascar we work with the Lemur Conservation Network and Dr Giuseppe Donati, from the University of Oxford Brookes, to study various factors regarding lemur conservation. Our main partner in Mexico is CRIP Centro Regional de Investigacion Pesquera, which is a federal branch of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute (INAPESCA). They have an ongoing Coral Aquaculture and Restoration project which assists in the conservation of and sustainable use of the region’s reef ecosystem. 

On the community development side, in Nepal we partner with SASANE, a survivor-led anti-human trafficking organisation. In Fiji’s Dawasamu district, our volunteers meet weekly with the district nurse to prioritise which areas require further focus and attention in each village. 

These are just a few of the partners we work with around the world to ensure our programs are sustainable, locally-led and follow an ethical code of practice. 

During your program you’ll have plenty of time to explore the surrounding areas and learn about the customs and traditions of the country you’re visiting. All of our programs include GVI Experiences – where you can learn how to make a traditional “potjiekos” in South Africa, spend the night on a remote volcanic archipelago in Madagascar, visit the ancient city of Coba in Mexico or spend your day snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef of Belize.

See what other parents & participants say

Read reviews and recommendations from all over the world.

Adventure is calling. Chase that feeling!

Save up to 20% when you book and pay by 30 June