At 1,000 feet of elevation, 47 Swiss eBay employees helped protect endangered animals in the Alps.
In late October, the eBay Foundation’s Swiss GIVE Team organized 47 volunteers from both the Zurich and Bern offices on two different outings to remove invasive plants and protect endangered species native to the region. As part of the eBay Foundation’s global GIVE Team program, the Swiss GIVE Team supports organizations of interest to employees, such as an orphanage in Kenya where an employee was once an orphan herself. In its latest volunteer effort, the team chose to address a local community issue: a World Wildlife Fund conservation project in the “Emerald area,” located near a mountain village in the Valais region of Switzerland. WWF is a non-profit organization that aims to ensure that animals and humans coexist in sustainable ways.
On behalf of the animals and the planet, two separate troops of hardy volunteers set off for a day in the mountains. After lacing up hiking boots and fueling up on coffee in the village square, the cheerful group marched up to their work site. An organic farmer and WWF member taught them about the region, the issues facing the area in winter, and the unique animals that live there. Employees made significant landscape improvements by clipping branches, clearing overgrown rosehip bushes and debris, hauling stumps, and building shelters for some animals to use when winter snows hit. They did it all while wearing smiles — and eBay hats.
In return for their service, team members received typical Valaisan food made by local farmers, and enjoyed a knockout view. In other words, they spent part of their weekend doing what many people do for fun anyway: hiking in the outdoors and enjoying delicious, local food and drinks. The team also happened to help preserve biological diversity in the process.
Julie Tisseaux of the EU Strategy Team said of her volunteer experience: “We spent an incredible day, and it was by far one of the best team building events I have attended: merging the Zurich and Bern teams around a good cause, outside of our work, enabled us to approach and connect with each other in a very natural way. The beauty of the environment and the fact that everyone was here for a single good cause – leaving aside our own work concerns – were just great. I want to send a very sincere thank you to the GIVE Team and our hosts. I feel we got so much more out than we actually gave.”
Giving back is hard work, but no one said it has to be all work. Swiss GIVE Team volunteers are hungry for more, and plan additional volunteer days in 2011.