Press release

EY professionals donate more than 3,000 hours of environmental research in Latin America through EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors

New york, 8 July 2016

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The EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors program, a collaboration between EY and the Earthwatch Institute, a non-profit organization that engages people worldwide in scientific field research and education in sustainable environments, has donated 3,120 hours to assist local entrepreneurs in Latin America with improving business practices and contributing to the health of local ecosystems.

Ambassadors from across EY member firms in North, South and Central America and Israel participate in the highly selective week-long program. Forty employees traveled to Brazil or Mexico to conduct field research and leverage their business and consulting skills to assist the local communities. More than 200 EY professionals have donated 16,000 hours since the program was launched in 2009.  

EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors is one of many initiatives at EY designed to develop leadership skills of EY’s people and leave a lasting legacy for society. EY recently announced two new Corporate Responsibility Sabbaticals in the US. The organization also has two international corporate volunteerism programs, the EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors program, and the EY Vantage program, which sends top-performing EY professionals in the US abroad for six weeks to advise high-impact entrepreneurs and help their businesses address growth obstacles.

“The EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors program gives our employees a meaningful opportunity to go beyond the office and leverage their skills in a non-traditional workplace,” said Deborah K. Holmes, EY Americas Director of Corporate Responsibility. “The program helps our professionals grow into better leaders and teammates as they expand their global mindset by immersing themselves in a new culture alongside their colleagues.”

When EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors return to their local offices, they are encouraged to apply their learnings to their daily lives and careers. The Ambassadors bring back a heightened appreciation for the intersection between entrepreneurship, community engagement and environmental sustainability which they can share with their local office. Many ambassadors get more involved in EY Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS) work, as well as in their local communities by volunteering with local nonprofit organizations.

“Professionally, I benefited from networking with individuals across the county and from across service lines,” said Jessica Sartain, an Assurance Senior from Ernst & Young LLP in Nashville who traveled to Mexico. “The expedition also strengthened my ability to adapt to different mindsets, cultures, language barriers, and ways of thinking through problems. Specifically, I was able to improve upon my communication skills by practicing my presentation and public speaking skills in front of large groups.”

2016 Expedition Highlights

Building upon the efforts from previous years, the Ambassadors traveled to the Brazilian rainforest and the Mexican wetlands. In Brazil, Ambassadors provided operational and organization structure, marketing and financial recommendations to a family-owned hospitality business and an ecotourism organization. They also worked with scientists to collect data that will help map biodiversity and various ecosystem services in the Atlantic Forest. In Mexico, Ambassadors supported a farming cooperative with organizational structure, branding and marketing, go to market strategies and financing to increase local and governmental awareness of the benefits of sustainable agricultural practices and to improve the health of the region’s ecosystem. In addition, the Ambassadors collected data water quality in the Xochimilco wetlands, outside of Mexico City, as part of a study on the health of freshwater ecosystems globally.

“Our signature program with EY epitomizes the power of partnership between the nonprofit and corporate sector,” said Scott Kania, who was appointed CEO of Earthwatch earlier this year following a 35-year senior operations career in the financial services industry. “It’s thrilling to witness the tangible impact the Ambassadors have on the ground, and equally exciting to hear how their experiences helped them grow professionally and personally in return.”

To learn more about EY’s commitments to corporate responsibility and sustainability efforts, please visit

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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a member of the global EY organization that provides services to clients in the US.