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A volunteer in Madeira

A volunteer in Madeira

A few days ago I landed on the island of Madeira to participate in the project Island Shake, within the framework of the European Voluntary Service. From now and for the next five months, lend my knowledge of geography, and my motivation to work in a ornithological society called SPEA. If you want to know how I come to be here, keep reading!


What is Island Shake?

Remembering, Island Shake is a project attached to the EVS, in which seven young people from each of the Canary Islands traveled to another European island to work as volunteers in different organizations. For more information please visit our blog

What is SPEA and what my role within the organization?

The Sociedade Portuguesa o Estudo das Aves (Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds) is a scientific non-profit organization that promotes the study and conservation of birds in Portugal. Founded in 1993 and recognized as a non-profit organization in 2012, currently has about 3,400 partners, developing projects of nature conservation in Portugal and some abroad (Cape Verde, Sao Tome, Greece, Spain and Malta). Its main objective is to work for the study and conservation of birds and their habitats, promoting sustainable development through environmental awareness activities and bird watching.

SPEA has offices in mainland Portugal and the Azores and Madeira, where I am currently. You can visit their website for more information


My role in the association will carry out several activities related to the observation and study of birds and their behavior: census of individuals around the Funchal airport, collect insect traps to analyze his diet; combed areas of the territory in searching for points of particular concentration of birds, etc., and dump the data in the computer system.
How did I get here?

If you’ve been following our blog, you know that the Island Shake project is developed under the European Voluntary System, a service provided and funded by the EU that allows young Europeans traveling to other countries to work as volunteers in many projects of all kinds, mainly related to socio-cultural and environmental issues. Besides benefiting target communities by participating in volunteer activities young people can develop new skills and improve their professional and personal educational.

Each year, hundreds of NGOs and other cultural associations across Europe offer new projects under the EVS, so there are many opportunities for any young person to find a project to participate, depending a bit of their education, but all of their interest and motivation. In my case, I got to be part of Island Shake after passing a selection process which assessed 20 other requests from other participants of my island. I think my interest for the nature and environmental protection had influence on my election as a volunteer for SPEA-Madeira, since one of the main objectives of the Association, the preservation of bird habitat, is a field of work for which I am prepared.

To learn more about my motivation for choosing this project as well as the process of selection of volunteers, you can check out the article “Volunteering for a more sustainable world”

What qualifications were necessary to get here?

In my opinion, apart from the affinity between the candidate’s academic background and area of ​​activity of the host association, there are certain skills and attitudes very valuable when choosing a volunteer:

. Always demonstrate initiative, proactivity and interest in what you are doing, putting energy and creativity in all activities. Do not wait forever to tell us what to do, but to propose their own ideas when necessary.

. Be autonomous, and able to overcome the various obstacles that may arise, both professionally and personally, without having to go to someone else. In common problems, be part of the solution, not the problem.

. Communication skills, since the environment is composed of volunteer many relationships with other individuals and entities. So, it’s critical to properly express both in speaking and writing, and if possible in another language than their own, especially in English. It is also essential to have a minimum knowledge of office automation (word processing, spreadsheets, slide show, etc..) And internet (email, video, file uploads, social networking, etc..).

. Besides these suggestions, any preparation or additional skills (training courses, computer skills, artistic skills, languages, etc..) that can be provided to be provided for the volunteer points.

In the end, prove to be a person you can count on for anything.

Finally why did you choose to be volunteer?

Mainly to travel, to get experience as a geographer in the workplace, and to meet new people, and learn another language, and increase and improve my skills and competencies. Oh, I forgot! Also for surfing!




About marcel

Soy un isleño de 27 años, natural de la isla de La Gomera. Tengo una licenciatura en geografía por la Universidad de La Laguna, y máster en Teledetección y Sistemas de Información Geográfica por la Universitat Auónoma de Barcelona. Mis intereses son el surf y la naturaleza, y me encanta la buena comida y el cine.

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