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The ACE Team
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.
UK and US Team
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!
Alexia Massey, Chief Operating Officer
I oversee the UK and US office operations and development, and ensure African Conservation Experience fulfils our missions and conservation goals, while continuing to meet strict operating guidelines to ensure a sustainable approach to conservation, and the highest standards of safety for our volunteers.
“Prior to joining ACE in 2005, I worked as a Primate and Large Mammal Keeper and spent a year and a half working as an Equine Nurse. Following my BSc in Zoology, my passion for wildlife stemmed a career focussed on supporting conservation projects in situ and I have been privileged to be surrounded by the low grumblings of a happy gorrila group and the low rumblings of an elephant herd deep in the African bush. Conservation and travel is a passion of mine, and I have been lucky enough to be involved in conservation projects worldwide. Joining a local team in Honduras, working on reforestation of a cloud forest, inspired my interest in sustainable approaches to promote development within local communities. I have first hand experience of the often challenging and intensely rewarding experience of volunteering in southern Africa and am passionate about ensuring we can provide this opportunity for others!”
Pamela Savage, UK Administration and Office Manager
“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, UK Administration and Office Assitant
"Working alongside Pam, I will be able to assist you with getting all the arrangements in place for your trip. It’s so rewarding to hear the feedback from volunteers after their projects and we work very hard to ensure that you are well prepared for your volunteering experience. I have travelled and worked in east Africa on numerous occasions and my teenage daughter has also travelled independently in east Africa and Nepal. I truly value the importance of travel, experiencing another way of life and culture, and how that can benefit us as people, as well as the wildlife and communities you will be volunteering with."
Max Baer, Americas Administration and Office Assitant
"Once you’ve made the decision to embark on one of ACE’s life changing placements, it’s my job to make it happen for those of our volunteers setting out from the Americas; helping them with any questions they have and guiding them through the hurtles of international travel up until they set boots down in southern Africa.
Hailing from the outdoor haven of Bend, Oregon; a love of the natural world runs in my veins. I grew up rafting, skiing, hiking, and otherwise exploring and enjoying the wild recesses of Oregon which helped me develop an appreciation for conservation and its necessity at a young age. My first experience of working with African communities came about in my last year of university when I joined a small group of students and local civic leaders to establish a small non-profit organization called Hope for Zambezi tasked with supplying financial support to the Zambezi chapter the Network of Zambian People Living with HIV/AIDS. This expanded my understanding of the world and of how interconnected and interdependent nations and people are in today's global society.
My passion for ACE’s mission and projects stems less from the conservational side of things and more from the financial side, as ACE goes beyond connecting volunteers with projects by supporting our conservation projects with sustainable financial support that ensures the projects receive the resources they need to enact real, long term change."
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!”
Lauren Locke, Americas Sales and Marketing Assistant
"I help volunteers from the Americas with their decisions and conservation placements from the Berkeley, California office.
Growing up in Asheville, North Carolina surrounded by the incredible blue ridge mountains I was instilled with a love of nature from an early age. As I've grown I've developed a contagious passion for the natural and cultural beauty that exists all over the world. I fell head-over-heals in love with South Africa during a semester exchange during my undergraduate studies. Since then, I have been lucky enough to work and study in Argentina, Czech Republic, India and Thailand. However, I am continually drawn back to the unbelievable beauty and richness that exists on the African continent. I recently completed a M.A. in International Relations with a concentration in Sustainable Tourism Development. Additionally, I have worked in various arenas such as study abroad, fair trade tourism, rural development and I've even assisted at a great white shark volunteer program and shark cage diving facility in South Africa. Africa absolutely rocked my world and changed my perspective, I am confident that it can change yours too!
Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” I absolutely believe this sentiment to be true and I have seen this exemplified in my own life and in the lives of volunteers. My passion in life is to help others discover the beauty of new cultures and wildlife in a sustainable and ethical way, I couldn't be more excited to help volunteers personally experience the natural beauty of Southern Africa."
Joanna Hebbert, International Sales and Marketing Assistant
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 info to help you decide on the right placement for you.
“Having only recently completed my BSc in Zoology I have been lucky enough to travel throughout my studies. My first stop in my gap year 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. My heart will always lie with Africa, so I am thrilled to be part of ACE and passionate about conserving wildlife whilst providing volunteers with the opportunity to create their own memorable experiences!”
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.”
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.”
I learnt so much, not only about the work but about South Africa, politics and life. We were looked after from start to finish. The best experience of my life!
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