Those interested in doing volunteer work in Panama will most likely have to come up with a scheme of their own. Few formal volunteer programs exist as of yet. The best way to start is to find a place or a cause you’re is interested in and then pitch a volunteer plan to the director, highlighting your skills. Many will be happy for the free labor.
The Canopy Tower (tel. 264-5720, U.S. toll-free tel. 800/930-3397, www.canopytower.com) accepts volunteers willing to work at the tower in exchange for room, board, and a stipend of about US$400 a month. Volunteers are expected to take on a full range of responsibilities at the tower. Management prefers volunteers willing to stay at least three months. Those interested should send an email to the tower’s owner, Raúl Arias de Para, at birding [at] canopytower [dot] com. He speaks fluent English.
Los Quetzales Lodge and Spa (tel. 771-2182 or 771-2291, fax 771-2226, www.losquetzales.com) sometimes uses volunteers to help run the hotel. Panama City hostels and the Purple House Hostel (Calle C Sur and Avenida 6 Oeste, 774-4059, www.purplehousehostel.com) in David are other possibilities. Those interested can also try one of the universities or research institutes (see Opportunities for Study).
The environmental nonprofit ANCON (tel. 314-0052, www.ancon.org) sometimes takes volunteers as well. The best approach is to send ANCON a letter or email detailing skills and saying when you’d like to come down and how long you’d like to stay. Try to be as specific as possible about what you can contribute.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition