Alumni Spotlight: Madison Errington


Maddie studies BSc Ecology and Wildlife Conservation at Bournemouth University in England. She loves all things animals and hopes to make a difference in the world of conservation.

Why did you pick this program?

I chose this program because I had to do a placement as part of my university degree in my first year. I had to have a minimum of 25 days, so I originally volunteered on the program for 4-weeks, but loved it so much I extended it to an incredible 10-weeks!

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Well, after coming back from Greece everyone was immediately asking me how it was, hearing all my stories. And they already know what I'd say about going abroad.. DO IT!

There is nothing more amazing than just going on an adventure like this program. Volunteering or doing anything that takes you out of your comfort zone can be scary, especially abroad, but you see and experience things you will never forget.

You'll meet people who will no doubt become a second family to you, and you'll have the time of your life which nobody can replace.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be prepared for very hot and sweaty days, and long walks. The work is hard sometimes, but if someone gave me the opportunity to go back today I would in a heartbeat.

It gets easier as the days go on, you become accustomed your environment quite quickly. Especially with all the amazing people you'll be surrounded with!

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Oh gosh I don't know how to pick just one! The time we surprised our camp leaders by decorating camp and had a surprise party and even brought them a cake!

Its so hard to narrow down one favourite story. But I've tried to think and this is the one I've chosen. The first time I saw a baby sea turtle, aka my first hatchling!

It was on a survey I originally wasn't put on the rota to do, but my monitoring leader asked me if I wouldn't mind leading it to help out - so I said yes that I would, lucky I did!.

We get to Selinitsa and started the survey. So nothing is happening for a while, until we get to this one nest, and I see at first what I think is 3 dead hatchlings. It was an evening survey so it was likely they hatched in the day and dehydrated in the heat.. so I went to remove them from the nest , but on the third one it moves its little head!!

I was like, guys its actually alive!! As I said, this was my first hatchling so I as shocked and so excited! But also a little panicky as it was my first and this little guy's life, I felt, was in my hands as I was leading the survey.

I poured some cool sand on its head to cover it, and continued on the survey. As we got to the end to walk back, all of our minds ere on that one hatchling back at that nest... had it gone to sea since we left? Is it still there?? Turns out it was still there! we stayed for a while watching, called my camp leader to ask for advice, and after I hung up the phone it started to make its way to sea!

And that day, we all saw our first little hatchling safely make its way to sea to start its big journey! It was so amazing to see, it reminded me what it's all about, these are the little guys we are protecting and doing all the long walks for. Making it all worth while.

Unforgettable seeing an endangered species like that be born and make it's way to sea, just irreplaceable and so few can say that!

Was it what I expected?

Doing this program for me was all such a crazy rushed experience. I decided to do it one day, paid for it all in March and only had 2 months until I left for it! Usually I have expectations for things, but I had not much idea how this was going to be as it was so different from anything that I had ever done before!

The information on the program website was completely correct and met all my expectations on arrival, but what I didn't think of was the other volunteers. I didn't even think I'd get half as close as I did with people, and that is one thing that I have taken away from the experience which means it goes on a bit longer than when I came home.

I still have those people in my life who I can reminisce those stories with. Yes some of them live all over the world, so far away from me, but I will reunite with them one day!

You'll also have the same experience, I can guarantee. I used to not be great with my confidence or meeting new people, but after this program I am so much better and actually love meeting new people!

And as for Greece, I'm going back to the same beaches as soon as I can. I'll cry because none of my friends will be there with me, but I know that my time there during the program will not ever be the last time I go there..its a second home to me now and forever.