The ACE team take pride in supporting each and every volunteer from the initial application process right through to the departure of a lifetime, and throughout your placement. We also enjoy keeping in touch with everyone on your return, ensuring you are settling back into normal life, and hear all your stories about your volunteering experience. As a passionate and dedicated team both in southern Africa and based in the office, we are always on the end of the telephone to ensure your experience fulfils your expectations and is everything you wished for.
When you apply for a placement you will speak to one of the following members of our team. From zoologists to passionate conservationists, a team with extensive knowledge of travel and our projects, we look forward to speaking with you!
PAMELA SAVAGE, HR & OPERATIONS MANAGER UK
“Once you have booked a placement, I will be on hand to look after any questions you may have in the run up to your placement and ensure you receive your placement details and departure packs before you embark on your experience of a lifetime.
Having travelled extensively over the past 20 years, I have been fortunate to have seen many fascinating and exciting countries including colourful and vibrant India, the wonderful orangutans of Borneo and the amazing marine life of Mexico. Each destination can often be life changing and when I look back on my travels it never fails to bring a smile to my face and desire to reach out and explore another territory. Travel is in my heart and soul and I am equally passionate about the experience of each volunteer.”
RUTH BOWYER, VOLUNTEER SUPPORT EXECUTIVE
"From the moment you make the decision to travel with ACE, I am here to assist you with the arrangements for your trip. From arranging international flights, to what to pack - I can advise you how to get the most from your experience. Having worked in travel for many years, I really value the importance of travel and experiencing different cultures and how that can benefit us as people, as well as the wildlife and communities that we work with. As a parent to a teenage daughter that has travelled extensively in Africa, Nepal & Japan, I am also very aware of the worries about long distance travel that family and friends might have and am always happy to chat through any concerns with parents.
I have recently visited a large number of our partner projects in South Africa, Namibia & Botswana and having had an amazing time at all of the projects, I am genuinely in awe of the work that these projects carry out on a daily basis, working in sometimes stressful and difficult circumstances but always with wildlife and conservation at the heart. The countries of southern Africa are very diverse, complex and beautiful and I feel privileged to be able to assist our travellers with their experiences. The highlight of my job is following up with travellers when they have returned home and finding out about their experiences and seeing their photos!"
ELLEN SZIEDE, INTERNATIONAL MARKETING MANAGER
“I coordinate all marketing events for ACE and generally love spreading the word about the fabulous projects we work with.
When I was 17 I had the amazing opportunity to attend an international school in Swaziland for 2 years. The entire time was a huge eye opener exposing me to lives and environments that were so different to how I had grown up. One thing that blew me away was the breathtaking beauty of Africa - those sweeping big bush landscapes, the warm colours, searing sunsets - and of course Africa's wildlife. I could spend hours watching the slow motion of giraffes or the brilliance of colourful little lizards scuttling over warm rocks. And absolutely nothing beats sleeping out in the bush and hearing the sounds of nocturnal wildlife coming to life! By the time I graduated I was too deeply in love with Africa to go back home - so I stayed on for another few years and worked. I eventually moved on to work and study in Asia, Australia and Europe, but it is true what they say about first love...In joining ACE I now get to contribute to preserving the wildlife and habitats that captivated me so much - and I have the opportunity to help other people go to Africa for their very own life-changing experience!”
JOANNA HEBBERT, INTERNATIONAL SALES AND MARKETING EXECUTIVE
"When you apply for a placement with ACE worldwide, I will help you through the process and get you booked onto your African adventure! I will talk you through all the project information to help you decide on the right placement for you. If you enquire about a group experience, I will personally work with you to put together a fun, educational and bespoke trip itinerary with a strong focus on wildlife conservation!
I also help Ellen with marketing our awesome partner projects, so you may see me to chat to in person at events around the UK and further afield.
I completed my BSc in Zoology in 2011 and was lucky enough to have many travel opportunities throughout my studies. My first stop in my year out in 2008 was South Africa! I have always been captivated by the magnificent beauty of African Wildlife and my time out there more than lived up to expectations. There is nothing more exhilarating than watching a pack of painted wild dogs block your path, wait in suspense to see if a herd of elephants are ready to charge your way or listen at night to hyenas laughing just metres away from your tent! After this my passion grew and I have since been to Bali to research dolphin behaviour, habitat and the effect of tourism on the populations. My dissertation then took me around Europe where I collected data on swarming bat species.
Since joining ACE I have been privileged to visited many of our partner projects in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. Each project has made me more enthusiastic about what we do - meeting all the dedicated project staff, amazing wildlife and seeing our conservation travellers in action was such a rewarding experience. My heart will always lie with Africa, so I am thrilled to be part of the ACE team and passionate about conserving wildlife whilst providing conservation travellers with the opportunity to create their own memorable experiences!”
ELLIE MILTON, INTERNATIONAL SALES AND ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANT
"If you are joining us from the Americas or Europe, I will be your first point of contact; from chatting to you about your project choice to arranging insurance, sending you all the information you need about the conservation work and travelling to Africa - and answering any questions you have, of course!
Ever since I was young I have dreamt of travelling to new places, and I really believe that by turning these dreams into a reality I have allowed myself to grow as a person. I recently graduated with a BSc in International Wildlife Biology, and this provided me with the opportunity to combine my passion for conservation with my love of travel. During my travels I’ve had some fantastic experiences; I’ve gotten up close to elephants in Uganda, trekked through the cloud forests of Honduras and swam alongside whale sharks in Mexico. Whilst these memories will stay with me forever, nothing can compare to my time in South Africa where I tracked big game such as lion, leopard and black rhino, and was even lucky enough to see a pack of wild dogs make a kill! A friend once told me that it’s not possible to visit Africa without falling in love, and they were absolutely right. I’m now very excited to be working for ACE, and enabling others to also experience the incredible cultures, landscapes and wildlife of southern Africa!"
SOUTHERN AFRICAN TEAM
The team in southern Africa are passionate about their heritage and about you enjoying every aspect of your placement. From Martin Bornman, our Operations Manager in southern Africa to every project coordinator we work with, you will have a very strong support structure throughout your placement.
MARTIN BORNMAN, SA MANAGER
“I meet each and every volunteer when you arrive in South Africa and introduce you to our beautiful country and the fantastic experience you are about to undertake. You may also meet little Lemon, my terrier and ACE's transfer buddy!
I was born and have lived my whole life in South Africa. I started my career in conservation by doing a volunteer placement on a small island in the Indian Ocean. I was so taken with what I had experienced there that I decided to follow a career in conservation. I enrolled to do a three year course in Conservation at the Tshwane University in South Africa. After completion I worked in the field for eight years, during which time I was privileged to work in some of the wildest areas in southern Africa. During this time I started a degree majoring in Psychology. I met the founder of ACE, Rob Harris, in 2000. After being ignited by his ideas I founded the Garonga ACE project, which I personally coordinated for three years. Since 2003 I have been employed by ACE as the Operations Manager of the projects in southern Africa. I live on a small farm to the west of Johannesburg where I pursue my personal interests in horse training and organic small scale farming.”
NATALIE SHAW, AFRICA LOGISTICAL ASSISTANT
"I am here to assist Martin in all the transfer logistics for every volunteer once they arrive in South Africa, making sure that each person gets to and from the projects they have chosen to take part in.
From a young age I have always loved to go on trips to game parks and reserves just so that I could get to see the magnificent creatures we have in our country. And what a treat it was if I was able to get close to any of them. I am so happy to be part of the ACE team so that I can see how our volunteers have realised their dreams, and have had the most awesome experiences so that they can take home a great story to tell."
PROJECT COORDINATORS AND ASSISTANT COORDINATORS
Experienced Coordinators on each project guide your conservation work, while providing a safe base in the African bush and being your mentor.
THE ORIGINS OF ACE - THE FOUNDERS OF AFRICAN CONSERVATION EXPERIENCE
ROB AND MARION HARRIS, FOUNDERS AND DIRECTORS OF ACE
Rob was born and grew up in South Africa and has always had a keen interest in wildlife and conservation but with a career in civil engineering and the construction industry did not have much opportunity to fulfil that interest. He met his wife, Marion, in SA before coming to live in the UK with their 3 children. When their son Mark completed his A-levels and wanted to gain work experience on a game reserve in South Africa before starting university, they managed to arrange for him to spend a few months working on a game reserve. On hearing this, many of his friends from school wanted to join him. This was the seed of the idea for African Conservation Experience and Rob started ACE in 1998, with plenty of assistance and support from Marion.
Mark was the guinea pig and a few conservation projects were set up with the co-operation of game reserve land owners in southern Africa. Recruitment of volunteers in the UK commenced, and in 1999 the volunteers started arriving on the projects.
“We were astounded with the amount of interest and support we received from volunteers and the growth in the number of projects and volunteers has been amazing. We have learned many valuable lessons along the way and now have a very loyal and committed team in the UK and southern Africa doing great work.”
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