OFI Field Correspondent

Orangutan Foundation International Field Correspondent Communications Volunteer abroadThe OFI Field Correspondent position is well suited to enthusiastic and independent individuals. OFI has a long and established history as a research, conservation, and education organization. It is vitally important that this work continues to be brought to the attention of the public as well as the friends and donors involved with OFI. Field Correspondent volunteers gain unparalleled access to OFI’s unique field operations and use this experience and insight gained to contribute concrete material to a critically important aspect of conservation: involvement of the international public.

Application Form | Job Description

Job Description

The Field Correspondent position is part of OFI’s Long-Term Volunteer Program. Field Correspondent volunteers are based at the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) in Kalimantan Tengah (Central Borneo, Indonesia). As the point people on the ground, Field Correspondents are an integral part of OFI’s team. They are given the opportunity to witness and participate in OFI’s field activities first-hand and to generate creative, exciting content to translate the action to a public presentation for the global community. This requires correct interpretation of events and engaging, appropriate presentation through various forms of communication media.

Position Duration

Six months

Application Deadline


Work Plan

  • Connect OFI donors who have fostered orangutans to their foster orphans by getting to know the orangutans in the Care Center, observing their behavior and personalities up close in the OCCQ release forest, communicating with Care Center staff for unique stories and quirks, photographing the orangutans; subsequently, compiling the information and presenting it in attractive format for the bi-annual updates.
  • Participate in production of monthly OFI eNewsletter: Track all developments in the field and identify potential articles and visual materials that can be used as items of interest for the general public. Identify an “Orangutan of the Month” to write about and spend time with this orangutan to be able to provide multiple high-quality photos and highlight unique personality traits, anecdotes, and developments in the rehabilitation process for this individual . Contribute other written and visual materials as necessary and communicate long distance with all contributors to the eNewsletter to make sure all needs are met by the deadline.
  • Collaborate with OFI offices to contribute material to OFI’s main website by gathering current data and images for programs and educational material featured on the site.
  • Supply content such as Photos of the Week, new arrivals to the Care Center, etc. to help keep OFI’s social media sites updated and current with material suitable to the channel’s audience.
  • Photograph significant events, orangutans, OFI staff, jungle flora and fauna, and other subjects as needed by the OFI team. At the end of the tenure, submit non-personal photography for OFI’s educational and marketing use and reference.
  • Keep detailed and precise photo and media naming structure and be responsible for ensuring all media is uploaded and secured in cloud storage space with limited internet access. This is critical!
  • Develop innovative ways to facilitate connections via creative journaling, video, and other means.
  • Participate in OFI’s environmental enrichment program, producing food and habitat enrichment for orangutans and other animals at the OCCQ.
  • Understand and promote OFI policies.
  • Complete other tasks for OFI as needed.
  • Provide updates and feedback through weekly progress reports and a final end-of-tenure report within one month of leaving the Care Center.

The tasks outlined above are only the standard responsibility of Field Correspondent volunteers. Every tenure will also involve one or more special projects that will address the communication, outreach, and fundraising needs of OFI on and off the field at the time. The Field Correspondents will be expected to work as a team in the field, sharing responsibilities, and allocating work between two or more individuals accordingly. Volunteers can expect to work with other volunteers from various cultural and educational backgrounds and are expected to work professionally and diligently with limited on the ground oversight. Regular remote communication with the OFI office in LA and the OFI Volunteer Committee is expected and required. Duties will range from days spent in the field to days on computer with limited internet access. Volunteers must be excellent time managers and be able to handle a long list of material needed. All OFI Volunteers are expected to act as positive influence on staff and local people.

Field Correspondent volunteers will gain valuable experience with writing, photography, and video in a field setting. The workload is constant and volunteers will gain a wide range of experience working closely with local staff and the professional OFI office as well as spending daily time with the orangutans and other animals at the OCCQ. Volunteers can expect to become fully integrated into the OFI local community and experience local culture and traditions. Volunteers will experience the highs and lows of field conservation efforts; can expect to work hard both physically, and mentally in a timely fashion to meet western deadlines.


Job-Specific Requirements:

  • Excellent English language writing skills
  • Photography and/or film experience (must own equipment and be able to bring to the field)
  • Willingness to work and live in remote field conditions
  • Ability to keep timely and professional correspondence with remote work partners 
  • Be extremely organized and diligent with media storage and documentation
  • Experience working with teams of people of very diverse backgrounds and personalities
  • Indonesian-language ability at basic or conversational level; willingness to learn daily throughout the volunteer tenure
  • Background in environmental sciences preferred

General Skills and Characteristics:

  • Strong interest in orangutans and other endangered wildlife
  • Experience working, traveling or volunteering in developing, tropical nations
  • Experience handling or behaving in close proximity with animals (preferably wildlife)
  • Cultural sensitivity, understanding, and adaptability 
  • High degree of flexibility, open-mindedness, creativity, and optimism
  • Ability and commitment to fundraise for the trip

Volunteering with OFI

Orangutan Foundation International protects 6,000 wild orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park, in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Facilities include 16 guard posts throughout the park and numerous staffed feeding stations in addition to the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ), which is currently rehabilitating over 300 young orangutans and preparing them for return to the wild. The majority of individuals are under 10 years old. The Care Center consists of a central clinic and units housing the older individuals, while the outlying juvenile and infant units and the medical quarantine facility are set in the surrounding 80 hectare forest. Most of the orangutans are very well-habituated to humans. They arrive in the OCCQ by confiscation from homes, black markets, entertainment industry, and abusive zoos.

Volunteering for OFI can have a big impact on your life and on the lives of the thousands of orangutans we fight to protect. Each year, OFI is grateful to receive many kind inquiries from volunteers willing to spend weeks, months, even years in Kalimantan, helping at the Orangutan Care Center or in Tanjung Puting National Park. For our successful long-term volunteers, OFI is pleased to be able to offer letters of reference that will serve as testimony of their dedication to our organization and the quality of the contribution they have made to our cause. Volunteers are expected to submit a final report on what they have learned, experienced, and accomplished during their tenure with OFI.

Life at the OCCQ

The OCCQ is situated in the village of Pasir Panjang, a fifteen-minute drive from the small city of Pangkalan Bun. This city has an airport and is situated in the south of the province of Kalimantan Tengah, Borneo, Indonesia. Volunteers work on a daily basis at the OCCQ in Pasir Panjang. Most of the locals speak rudimentary or no English. Languages are Indonesian and local Dayak dialect. The staff working hours are 8:00 to 16:00, with a lunch break at around noon. If desired, the volunteer may take one day off a week.

Living arrangements are typically with a local family homestay. Living conditions are basic, with limited running water, no landlines and only occasional internet access through 3G cell phones, limited and unreliable wireless set-ups available at some homestays, and wireless internet cafes available in the nearby city of Pangkalan Bun. The quality of amenities in the homes varies, from simple room accommodation to cooking and laundry provided. OFI makes an effort to arrange homestays for all its interns and volunteers, but there is an element of unpredictability in any such arrangements. In case of emergency, hotel/motel accommodations are present in Pangkalan Bun and even closer to Pasir Panjang.

Program Costs and Requirements

Volunteers will be expected to cover international flights to Jakarta, Indonesia as well as domestic flights to Pangkalan Bun, Kalimantan Tengah. Homestay rental fees are approximately 3,000,000 IDR (usually less than $300 USD) per month in Pasir Panjang, which includes three basic meals a day, electricity, and accommodation. Additional funds should be budgeted for miscellaneous personal expenses like phone credit (there are small local shops for snacks, etc.). Volunteers will also be responsible for the cost of their initial visa, which OFI will help you acquire, as well as renewals three times during the six months (approx. 1,000,000 IDR average each visa renewal trip). Volunteers are responsible for basic field equipment.

The following documents are required from all volunteers prior to departure:
Proof of vaccinations
Negative tests results from the following diseases:
Proof of travel & medical insurance
Signed work contract
Signed confidentiality agreement

How to Apply

  • All applicants must be members in good standing of OFI. The fee is $45 for a student or senior membership: JOIN OFI
  • Fill out the OFI Long Term Volunteer Application here.
  • Submit the following documents to ofivolunteer@gmail.com:
    • Proof of OFI Membership
    • Resume
    • Cover letter
    • Two professional references
  • OPTIONAL: As a Field Correspondent applicant, if you have links to any online writing or photography samples, please send those along with your other application materials to the ofivolunteer@gmail.com. Applicants who progress through the interview process will eventually be asked to do a writing and photography assignment, but sending samples right off the bat will help the Volunteer Committee get an idea of your skills and suitability for the position.

Application process

All applications will be acknowledged. Once applications, cover letters, and resumes are received, phone or Skype interviews will be conducted with chosen applicants. You will be contacted by one of our volunteer coordinators to set up this interview usually within a few weeks of application. Note that all of our volunteer coordinators are themselves volunteers, so please be patient if there is an occasional communications delay.

© 2018 Orangutan Foundation International. All rights reserved.

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