High School Group Terms and Conditions
Registering for an Expedition Place
1. How do I enroll?
The first step for group leaders is to select a project and identify the dates when your group would be able to go. The Director of Institutional Partnerships will work with the leader to select a project that matches your group's interests, desired destination, desired schedule, and budget. Depending on the project, expedition dates may be created to match group needs, and therefore would not necessarily have to fit within the published schedule. After the group leader has selected a project and dates have been confirmed by the scientist, a group agreement form and volunteer registration forms will be sent to the group leader. The agreement form should be faxed back to Earthwatch at 978-461-2332, attention Director of Institutional Partnerships. Then, informational materials specific to that project and expedition will be sent to the leader for any student/parent meetings.
All volunteers/group participants must complete a registration form and return it with their initial deposit; no one will be officially enrolled until his or her deposit is received by Earthwatch. The registrations and deposits should be collected by the group leader and submitted to Earthwatch either via fax (978-461-2332) or mailed to:
114 Western Ave,
Boston, MA 02134,
2. General Payment Information
Earthwatch accepts credit cards (Visa, MasterCard or American Express), checks, or money orders – do not send cash. Checks should be made payable to Earthwatch Institute. Volunteers can make payments individually through any payment method above, but group leaders should collect the payments and submit to Earthwatch in one envelope, to the address above. Please clearly mark payments with:
Group leader’s full name
Expedition name (e.g. “Costa Rican’ Coffee” or “Trinidad’s Leatherback Sea Turtles.”)
Checks should also contain the name of the participant and the name, address, and phone number of the person signing the check.
If the group is fundraising for the expedition, contributors’ checks can either be made out directly to Earthwatch and collected by the group leader OR they can be made out to and submitted to the participating school, which will then issue a check to Earthwatch for the full amount.
Earthwatch strongly recommends the participating school or organization (in the United States and Canada only) start an Expedition Fund at http://www.earthwatch.org/getinvolved/involveothers/setupexpfund. An Expedition Fund can be started with a minimum contribution of $100. Once an Expedition Fund is open, volunteers and contributors of all kinds (parents, colleagues, community members, etc.) can add to it in increments of $25 or more. Contributors will receive an email confirmation of their non-refundable, tax deductible donation. All Expedition Fund contributions are to be used toward the cost of the group’s expedition and will be credited to anyone the group leader designates as a participant. Should a group have to cancel, all contributions made into its Expedition Fund must be used for an Earthwatch expedition within 3 years of the initial deposit or these contributions will be considered general donations to Earthwatch.
3. What is the Payment Schedule and Process?
- June 15, 2013 — Due Date for Initial Deposits for 2013 Early Enrollment
- November 15, 2013 – Due Date for Initial Deposits for 2013 Fall Enrollment
Initial Deposits in the amount of $500USD per participant are required to secure your place on the team.
Final Payment Schedule:
|Departure Date for Expedition
|Oct 1 - February 28
||120 days prior
|Mar 1 - May 31
|June 1 - Sept 30
4. Exchange, Refund, and Cancellation Policy
- Cancellations and exchanges up until final payment deadline (based on above schedule):
- Cancellation: the initial deposit of $500 per participant will be retained by Earthwatch Institute.
- Exchange: There is no fee to replace one participant with another. All volunteer forms are due 90 days before the team start date.
- Cancellations and exchanges after final payment deadline (based on above schedule)
- Cancellation: All payments are non-refundable.
- Exchange: Replacements will be considered on a case by case basis and are subject to a $500 fee. Volunteer forms are due at least 90 days before the team start date.
- No replacements will be considered within 60 days of the start date of the expedition.
All completed volunteer forms must be collected by the group leader and submitted to Earthwatch no later than 90 days before the departure date for the Expedition. Failure to submit these volunteer forms by this date may result in cancellation from the team without refund.
How to Cancel
Volunteers (or parents/guardians if volunteer is under 18 years of age) must cancel their participation on the project in writing by letter or by a signed fax. Cancellations will not be accepted via phone or email. The effective date of cancellation will be the postmark on the letter of notification or the date of receipt of the signed fax. Mail cancellations to: Earthwatch Institute, Public Program Coordinator, 114 Western Ave, Boston, MA 02134, U.S.A or fax to 978-461-2332. If you have purchased the Earthwatch supplemental cancellation insurance, please contact CSA directly (1800-348-9505) for specific coverage and reimbursement questions.
Finding a Replacement
If you cancel and have a suitable replacement whose registration form and payment arrives in the same envelope as your cancellation notice, you will receive a refund in keeping with the exchange policy above--provided Earthwatch finds the replacement suitable. Should the group leader be unable to find a suitable replacement, the group contribution costs will be adjusted to compensate for the smaller group size.
Note: Any funds retained due to late cancellation will support expedition field research and will be considered a charitable gift to Earthwatch Institute.
In the unlikely event that Earthwatch must cancel an expedition, your expedition contribution will be refunded in full. Earthwatch does not reimburse airfare or other personal travel expenses associated with a cancelled expedition.
5. Contribution Rates
Earthwatch's contribution setting for groups is based upon total number of participants. If your group does not meet the number of estimated volunteers, Earthwatch reserves the right to reset the contribution accordingly. Earthwatch’s "Leaders go for no contribution" promotion is based on a minimum of 6 contributing volunteers plus a leader. Under this promotion, the contribution for the leader is pro-rated among the other participants. Should the group not fulfill the 6:1 ratio of participants to group leaders, the no-contribution place on the expedition would be forfeited.
6. What does the contribution cover?
The contribution associated with each expedition covers your meals, accommodation, on-site travel (not airfare or other travel costs to/from the rendezvous point), emergency medical/evacuation insurance, 24-hour emergency service, the guidance of experienced field scientists and Earthwatch staff, and all of the various costs of field research (field permits, etc.). For some expeditions, additional project costs may exist (i.e. SCUBA/snorkel equipment) so please check with your Group Coordinator if you have any questions. Earthwatch has a partnership with New Headings should your group be interested in purchasing any gear (essential or non-essential, as defined by your Expedition Briefing) for the expedition.
7. What about travel insurance?
Your contribution to your expedition includes our mandatory emergency medical, dental, and evacuation insurance. You can find the most current information on what is covered within this policy at http://www.earthwatch.org/expedition/insurance/. This insurance can not be waived for any reason.
In addition to this coverage, Earthwatch recommends that group members purchase trip cancellation insurance. Group members are responsible for protecting themselves against airline and travel agency cancellation fees. Earthwatch suggests CSA Travel Protection for this coverage, which includes coverage for trip cancellations, flight delays, lost/stolen baggage, etc. Group rates are available for these policies. Please check with CSA directly at 1800-348-9505 and reference Earthwatch Institute.
8. Departure and Arrival Requirements
Earthwatch expeditions have pre-set rendezvous and departure locations and times. Rendezvous and departure locations are normally at or near the airport or hotel closest to the research site. This rendezvous information will be communicated to the group leader when initial deposits are made. Group flights must be arranged to arrive and depart in accordance with the designated location and time. Any deviations may result in additional contribution fees or a decrease in field time. Earthwatch expedition contributions do not include airfare. However, Earthwatch has a partnership with an organization called STA Travel (800-217-1934).
9. Risk and Safety Management
Earthwatch subscribes to an international risk management provider which thoroughly evaluates all of our project locations and volunteer activities for the safety and security of our participants. Should any problems occur in the field, all projects have an emergency response plan for both minor and major incidents and have communication protocols both with area health care facilities and with the Earthwatch office.
Earthwatch has a staff member on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week to assist volunteers and field staff and to be available to relay emergency messages from home.
10. Are my project contributions and other costs tax-deductible?
Volunteers and contributors to an Expedition fund are subject to the tax laws of their individual country (and state, province, etc.), which vary widely. Volunteers and contributors should consult their local tax laws and/or tax attorneys or other qualified professionals for official tax advice. Earthwatch offers the following information as general guidelines only:
U.S.A.: In the United States, Earthwatch Institute is a public charity described under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is not a private foundation, as it is an organization described in Section 509(a)(1) and 170(b)(1)(A)(VI) of the Internal Revenue Code. In general, contributions of cash, securities and property donated by US citizens to support scientific research projects sponsored by Earthwatch Institute are tax-deductible. Note: Contributions of cash or securities to a charitable organization are tax deductible only upon completion of giving. As such, your payment(s) towards an Earthwatch expedition may be tax deductible only after such payment(s) is non-refundable or, in other words, 45 days before your team start date (contribution is no longer refundable). Under certain circumstances, volunteers may deduct reasonable out-of-pocket expenses associated with their participation in an Earthwatch expedition including some expenses for transportation to and from the research site.
AS WITH ALL TAX MATTERS, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PERSONAL TAX ADVISOR ON ALL ISSUES CONCERNING TAX DEDUCTIBILITY.
To learn more about our Expedition Fund Program for US and Canada residents only, please visit our Expedition Fund Program page.
11. Can I be removed from a team?
Earthwatch Institute reserves the right to refuse reservations on its projects. Such a refusal would typically, but not exclusively, be due either to an applicant's failure to meet the health requirements of a particular project or in the interest of team compatibility. Earthwatch Institute will support the right of the Principal Investigator (lead scientist on a project) and/or his or her appointed project manager(s) to send volunteers away from a project should their behavior compromise the safety, research objectives or general performance of the team. Misrepresentation of one’s qualifications in any way, including but not limited to age, health, intentions on the expedition, etc. will also be grounds for rejection of reservations or dismissal from project. In the case of deliberate misrepresentation, volunteers will not be eligible for a refund.
PLEASE NOTE: These terms and conditions are subject to change at any time, and each Earthwatch Institute office implements its own policies according to the laws and subsidies of their country of residence, whether the US, the UK, Australia, or Japan.
FINAL REMINDER: Earthwatch Institute projects are scientific research expeditions, not tours. Earthwatch Institute makes every effort to describe field conditions accurately both in its publications and verbally, but fieldwork in remote locations is a delicate business and prone to last-minute changes. We accept this variability as part of what makes an Earthwatch Institute project a unique experience and encourage volunteers to embrace the role of the unexpected in scientific discovery.
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