Several organisations organise working holidays with a large scientific and conservation component. The Earthwatch Institute is one of the largest funders of scientific field research in the world. But as well as having real scientists working on its projects around the world, ordinary non- scientists with just a healthy supply of money, curiosity and willingness to work can take part in their scientific trips.
Join an Earthwatch team (which costs between pounds 400 and pounds 2,000 for an average two-week expedition), and you can choose from projects world-wide, such as working with an Indonesian scientist to introduce solar technology to villages in Lombok island, East Bali.
Coral Cay Conservation is another organisation for the casual amateur scientist, who can also bask in the waters of beautiful coral atolls. CCC volunteers pay between pounds 650 for two weeks and pounds 2,550 for two months. Work involves scuba-diving to conduct survey work on the reefs of Turneffe Atoll, in Belize, for instance - carefully guided by marine scientists. All information will be used to establish a management plan for the atoll, with the aim of protecting its precious marine life. There are also projects in the Philippines and Borneo.
For an "alternative" scientific holiday, why not Wwoof? Working Weekends on Organic Farms, or Wwoofing, is an increasingly popular cheap way of travelling and learning about all things organic. In exchange for providing labour, Wwoofers get first-hand experience of organic techniques, healthy meals, and a place to lay their sleeping-bags. You can Wwoof for a weekend or for several months, in the UK and about 50 other countries. Wwoofing is also proof that a science holiday does not have to empty your wallet. A subscription payment of pounds 10 for one or two people travelling together lets you work anywhere in Britain and southern Europe, and allows you access to information about Wwoofing worldwide.
Earthwatch Institute, 57 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HJ (01865 311600) http://www.earthwatch.org
Coral Cay Conservation, 154 Clapham Park Road, London SW4 7DE (0171 498 6248), www.coralcay.org
E-mail: ccc@coralcay. demon.co.uk
Wwoof, PO Box 2675, Lewes, BN7 1RB (01273 476286).
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