Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 Summer Environmental Exchange~ Explore Tahoe, Baikal, and Mongolia! ~

2012 Summer Environmental Exchange 
~ Explore Tahoe, Baikal, and Mongolia! ~

Russian applicants: Please check back soon for a link to the application form for Russian citizens!

For downloadable application files, please scroll to the very bottom of this page.

Program Overview
The Summer Environmental Exchange (SEE) Program is an approximately 9-week long, experiential, place-based, watershed education and leadership development program hosted at Lake Tahoe in the USA andLake Baikal in southern Siberia, Russia, as well as Mongolia, exploring the Selenga River, Lake Baikal's upper watershed.The program's primary themes are watershed protection, sustainable development, and cultural exchange. The program enters its 22nd year in 2012 and will bring together young, environmental leaders from North America, Russia, Mongolia, and other parts of the world, to study environmental science, policy, and management at these two superlative lakes. 

"It is not necessary to be fluent in Russian or interested in Limnology in order to be greatly impacted by the TBI experience. The true power of the SEE program comes from its universality: no matter where your horizons rest, TBI will broaden them. After a summer surrounded by intelligent, passionate people, exploring new areas of the world, the sciences, and the humanities, I guarantee you will leave wanting to make a difference-- and possibly wanting to learn Russian and study Limnology as well." --Michelle Jordan, 2007 exchange, from Madison, Wisconsin.

Participants will enjoy a unique opportunity to learn about current initiatives in environmental science and policy, as well as the natural and cultural history of the Tahoe and Baikal watersheds, including Mongolia's Selenga River, the largest tributary to Lake Baikal.  They will spend 4 weeks at Lake Tahoe, 10 days in Mongolia, and 4 weeks at Lake Baikal, discovering other cultures in a way that cannot be replicated in a classroom.  Through small-group investigative projects, ecological restoration work, meetings with experts, and interactive workshops that simulate environmental problem-solving scenarios, participants apply their diverse skills and observe how political, legal, and administrative bodies work together with researchers, academic organizations, non-profits, businesses, and residents to promote stewardship and environmental protection.

"The Tahoe-Baikal Institute's Summer Environmental Exchange had a major impact on my future. The main value of the program lies in the fact that over the course of 10 weeks, specialists in biology, ecology, and nature protection have a unique opportunity to learn many interesting things about the ecosystems of two of the most beautiful lakes of the world (Tahoe and Baikal)." --Denis Sandanov, 2006 exchange, from Ulan Ude, Russia.

Small-group research projects at Tahoe and Baikal offer participants the experience of working with agencies, organizations, and academic institutions on ongoing environmental initiatives at both lakes. Projects address at least one of the three major themes of TBI's work: watershed management, sustainable development, and cultural exchange. Click here for descriptions of past projects.
"It's amazing how much can be squeezed into 10 weeks. We were introduced to so many spheres of environmental work-- from first hand research experiences in botany and limnology, to inspiring examples of NGO and volunteer work, to meetings with dozens of regional stakeholders and gaining a perspective on how their diverse values, methods, and influences come together to make history. I have come away with questions and interests I will pursue for the rest of my life." --Bella Gordon, 2006 exchange, from New York City.

The 2012 SEE program in the US will be held at Sierra Nevada College’s picturesque campus in Incline Village, Nevada, on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. The campus is set within a national forest, three blocks from the lake and boasts residence halls with spacious rooms (ours will be triple occupancy) with private bathrooms for each dorm room, as well as delicious cuisine. This summer almost all of the campus’ resources will be accessible including the library, art gallery, cafeteria, meeting space, LEED Platinum certified environmental science building and more. The campus is extremely beautiful and cozy and is only a few minutes’ walk from the village and from recreational opportunities on and around the lake. During the program we will also be on the road and in these instances the group will be camping in tents, staying in hostels or doing home-stays with local families. 
In Russia, the group is generally accommodated in home-stays, hostels, tent camping or dormitory-type arrangements, depending on the location.
In Mongolia, group accommodations and living conditions will be similar to Russia - rustic living in group yurt camps and cooking / eating around an open fire - with some time spent in home-stays, hostels, or dormitories.

One of the SEE program's most exciting aspects is the opportunity to meet and collaborate with international environmental leaders and researchers. After the program, participants join an extensive alumni network working all over the world. TBI alumni are selected for their achievements in a variety of areas including, but not limited to, conservation work, environmental science and policy, economics, and Russian, Slavic, or Asian studies. Click here for more information about the alumni network.

Starting in 2011, SEE program alumni have also been granted the opportunity to apply to our newest program, the Alumni Internship Exchange. This has brought three Russian alumni (2011) to return to Tahoe for intensive, targeted month-long internships/research projects with local agencies including the US Forest Service, the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science and the Tahoe Environmental Research Center. In 2012, alumni may have the opportunity to apply to do internships in the Baikal or Tahoe regions, allowing Russians and Mongolians to return to Tahoe and Americans/International participants to return to Baikal to expand their professional horizons and help with further preservation of these two beloved environments. Click here for more information on our alumni exchange.

"TBI has created a network of professionals, who, after completion of the program, remain interconnected. These alumni are able to work together and build new programs to further enable the development of ecological world views within an ever-widening audience." --Tatyana Belyavskaya, participant of the 2007 exchange, from Angarsk, Russia.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria
The 2012 program will include participants from North America, Russia and Mongolia, and 2-3 other international participants. A selection committee evaluates all applications - applicants are interviewed by phone or in person, and all selection decisions will be made by late February.
Upper-division undergraduates (juniors and seniors), recent graduates, graduate students, California Conservation Corps members, and early-career professionals with environmental interests are encouraged to apply.

Early Admission Deadline is December 5th, 2011! 
The TBI Summer Environmental Exchange is an intense and rigorous experience. Success of the program depends on a high level of participant enthusiasm.  TBI looks for participants who have experience and enjoy working in groups, show initiative, are open to new ideas and different cultures, and are interested in science, policy, conservation and the cultural aspects of environmental issues. TBI seeks participants who represent diverse geographic, ethnic, and other backgrounds.

All participants are expected to speak either English or Russian fluently. Some familiarity with both languages is preferred.  Translation will be provided at all scheduled meetings and lectures for the duration of the program.
Applicants must have a valid passport (necessary for visa processing) by March 1st, 2012 to participate in the program. The passport must be valid until at least the end of February 2013 and have at least two blank visa-designated pages. Click here for U.S. passport information.

Program Costs
Prospective participants are strongly encouraged to apply regardless of their ability to pay. Financial Aid is available from TBI, as well as information on other potential funding sources.

The program cost for 2012 will be available in December, 2011.

In the meantime, here is some information about the Program Costs in 2011 (for planning purposes only):
The average cost paid by American participants in 2011 was $7,400.

The actual cost of the program per participant is at least $9,700. This cost covers:
  • International airfare for the entire SEE Program, between the US (Lake Tahoe), Mongolia, and Russia (Lake Baikal) (~$2,500)*
  • All lodging and food for complete 8-week program (~$2,000)
  • All program project and activity expenses, including language interpretation and domestic ground transportation throughout the program (~$1,600)
  • Tuition: Educational and logistics staff in the U.S., Russia, and Mongolia (~$2,400) and exchange support functions (~$1,200)
* Participants who do not live in the Tahoe or Baikal regions will be responsible for their own travel to / from the official start and end of the exchange program.

Substantial financial aid (up to $3,000) was available in 2011 to significantly offset a participant's program costs.

Such financial aid is dependent on:
  • Strength of application
  • Demonstrated personal financial need
  • Initiative by the applicant to secure potential funding sources outside of TBI, such as personal contribution, loan, local community support (e.g. Rotary, Soroptimist, etc.)
  • Availability of TBI funds for financial aid

The financial aid provided by TBI is available thanks to personal charitable contributions, grants, and other donations solicited by the organization. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, TBI raises money year-round for financial aid through ambitious fundraising campaigns and events. In addition to these efforts, TBI believes that participants should be financially invested in their exchange experience through personal contributions and active efforts to raise funds to support their participation in the program. TBI staff is available to advise participants with respect to supplemental (non-TBI) scholarship, loan, and fundraising opportunities and strategies.

All participants are required to have health insurance that is valid in both the United States and in Russia. For individuals whose regular health insurance does not provide coverage overseas, TBI can recommend a short-term international accident and emergency medical insurance plan.

Application Process
Admission to the Summer Environmental Exchange is competitive, and applications from qualified candidates are considered on a first-come, first-serve basis, starting October 31st, 2011.It is therefore to your advantage to submit a completed application as early as possible. There are limited spaces in our program, so we encourage you to apply early to ensure admission.
  • Early Admission Deadline is December 5th, 2011.
  • Final Application Deadline is February 7th, 2012.

All applications must be emailed / postmarked by these dates!

Application Instructions
A completed application consists of:
  • the application form,
  • Personal statement,
  • your resume or CV,
  • two letters of recommendation,
  • official copies of university transcripts (if applicable)
  • financial aid application (optional)

The application form, personal statement, and resume should be submitted by e-mail. Letters of recommendation and transcripts should be sent directly to TBI by regular first-class mail. Any additional materials submitted will not be considered. Applications submitted in 2010 or 2011 are on file and may be reconsidered upon request.

Applicants from the U.S.: Download a copy of the application form (links below). Application forms and required attachments must be e-mailed to info "at" tahoebaikal.org by Tuesday, February 7th, 2012. Supporting documentation (agreement, transcripts and letters of recommendation) should be postmarked by that date. Remember, applications received before December 5, will be considered for early admission, so it is to your advantage to send your application in as soon as possible.

Applicants from Russia: For program information in Russian, as well as the application form for Russian citizens, please check back soon!

Applicants from other countries (not the US or Russia): The TBI office in South Lake Tahoe must receive your application form and all supporting documents by Tuesday, February 7th, 2012. Applications may be submitted in either English or Russian, but you need to use the application form for US and International applicants (link below). If official transcripts are not provided by your institution, an unofficial list of coursework completed and grades received may be considered. Transcripts and letters of recommendation may be sent by e-mail to info "at" tahoebaikal.org.

Become a fan of the Tahoe-Baikal Institute page on Facebook to see photos of recent exchange groups, hear thoughts from recent participants, and get updates about recruiting presentations in your area.

Application Links

Click below to view the 2011 schedule from each portion of the program.

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