Ernst & Young Professionals Volunteer for Earthwatch Institute Research Expeditions

Apr 12, 2010, 08:45 ET from Ernst & Young

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif., April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- This week, Ernst & Young will announce a new volunteer program in coordination with the Earthwatch Institute. Sixteen employees from Ernst & Young firms from across the Americas will help coffee farmers in Costa Rica improve environmentally sustainable farming practices. In two one-week expeditions, the teams will conduct field studies, collect samples and help researchers analyze coffee crop data.

Leisha John, Americas Director of Environmental Sustainability, Ernst & Young LLP, will highlight the new employee volunteer expeditions at the Fortune Brainstorm: green conference on Wednesday, April 14, in Laguna Niguel, California.  The first team will hit the ground in Costa Rica's Tarrazu region on April 17 with a second group arriving on April 24.

A high-impact coffee break

During the expeditions, Ernst & Young volunteers — who come from across North America, Central America and South America — will collect data alongside Earthwatch scientists to help a farmer cooperative, comprised of 2400 farms, better understand how conservation practices may bolster coffee crop yields and biological diversity. Additionally, the volunteers will use their professional skills to help the cooperatives explore new business procedures, such as differential pricing and cost analysis. One particular string of research will focus on examining habitats within the coffee plantations that are optimal for bees, which can enhance coffee production.

"The Earthwatch Expedition is really a high-impact coffee break. The Ernst & Young volunteers will take a break from the office to roll up their sleeves to help advance scientific research and to help the coffee farmers take a long-term view of their businesses," explained John. "We expect this experience and the time spent with entrepreneurs in the rainforest will enrich our volunteers' commitments to sustainability and inform their work as they advise companies on how to respond to climate change."

A personal passion becomes professional

Employees from entry level to just below the manager level were eligible for this volunteer expedition. Ernst & Young selected the class of volunteers based on their performance, as well as enthusiasm and commitment to the environment.

Dominick Brook, a professional with the Climate Change and Sustainability Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP, will serve as team captain on one of Ernst & Young's expeditions. "This program appeals to my personal and professional interests, connecting my analytical skills and my individual commitment to the environment," Brook said.

"Ernst & Young's involvement in the expedition in Tarrazu, Costa Rica is breaking new ground in helping us understand the complex interaction between the land and the local economy," said Ed Wilson, President and CEO of Earthwatch.  "Coffee is the world's fifth most widely traded commodity, with annual sales exceeding US$70 billion, and it is a major economic pillar for tropical regions. Our work in this region will help farmers gather the information they need about how to farm sustainably without straining the local environment," Wilson continued. "

The Earthwatch expeditions complement Ernst & Young's global commitment to environmental issues and skills-based volunteering.  More than 1,000 employees participate in EcoCare, an internal, grassroots network of professionals who help mitigate Ernst & Young's environmental footprint. Additionally, several of the expedition volunteers currently work or plan to advance into Ernst & Young's Climate Change and Sustainability Services practices.

An important element of the program is that the volunteers share their experiences with other Ernst & Young personnel – while they are in the field and when they return. To track the team's expeditions and glean some of the insights they share on the internal blog, become a fan on Ernst & Young's Facebook page and look out for updates on EY's Twitter page.

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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a US client-serving member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.

About Earthwatch Institute

Earthwatch ( is one of the world's leading environmental nonprofit organizations.  We use a unique model of citizen science, matching volunteers with researchers to investigate some of the greatest environmental challenges facing our planet.  Earthwatch is dedicated to creating an environmental legacy through scientific research projects, education and learning opportunities and engaging people in field research.  Our research program involves a global community of researchers, conservation volunteers, NGOs and businesses, working together towards a sustainable environment.  Since 1971 Earthwatch has inspired nearly 100,000 volunteers to join hundreds of conservation research projects in the field.  We collaborate with nearly 40 corporate partners around the world, in industry sectors ranging from banking and financial services to consumer products, agriculture and extractives.  Earthwatch ranked 11 out of 550 organizations featured in the "Business Guide to Partnering with NGOs and the United Nations," which was published in 2007 by The Financial Times, the United Nations Global Compact and Dalberg Global Development Advisors.

SOURCE Ernst & Young