ted martens, Natural habitat adventures

How do you feel that your history best prepares you for service on the ATCF Board? 

For 8 years, i have led sustainability efforts at Nat Hab. During my tenure, I established a philanthropic giving arm of the company, Natural Habitat Philanthropy (NHP). Securing buy-in and support from fellow company directors, Nat Hab contributes over $50,000/year to support over a dozen local conservation and community development projects in our most important destinations. We developed a formalized RFP process to solicit quality project proposals from our local partners and friends, and we have earned buy-in from our internal staff by involving them in the project selection process. In many ways, our internal program is a mirror image of the ATCF model. Previous to Nat Hab, I was the Director of Outreach & Development at Sustainable Travel International (STI), a non-profit organization that developed sustainability solutions for the travel industry. Among our many programs was a turn-key travel philanthropy program that I helped to design, market and implement with the adventure travel industry. Our program helped smaller travel companies participate in a philanthropic initiative without the burden of setting up their own 501c3 or other organizational infrastructure. I also sit on the board of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) as the Treasurer. IGTOA has a very similar model to the ATCF, only our work is focused within a single destination. We raise and distribute over $100,000/year to local conservation and environmental education projects across the Galapagos, all through a model that engages tour operators and their travelers.

Describe prior experience you have working with nonprofits and conservation groups? 

Details outlined in the work history question above. My work with Sustainable Travel International, the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association, and Natural Habitat Philanthropy are most relevant here. Having extensive experience on both the staff and board side of non-profit management (not to mention establishing a philanthropy program from scratch) has provided me with a depth of perspective that i can bring to the ATCF.

Outline the specific skills you bring or contributions you hope to make to the ATCF Board.

Nonprofit management from both a staff and board perspective, deep experience in sustainable tourism from a programmatic development and practitioner perspective, extensive experience in travel philanthropy from the perspective of the operator and non-profit entity, a passion for industry and a strong network within it, positive energy and desire to drive the organization to maximize its potential.

Why do you seek a position on the ATCF Board of Directors?

I believe our industry, adventure travel, has the opportunity, and the obligation, to maximize the positive impact we can have on our planet. As purveyors of incredible experiences in far flung places, these amazing destinations (and the people who host us) are our "product", and we must care for, support them and contribute to their protection and prosperity. The impact that most companies can have is limited in scope, however, and I truly believe that we can have a disproportionate positive impact by banding together as an industry and affecting greater change. The ATCF is the vehicle that can and does unify us as an industry to this end, and I believe my experience with travel philanthropy across varying contexts can contribute deeply to the organization's success. I am passionate about our adventure travel community, I am passionate about sustainability, and i am passionate about our industry's opportunity and obligation to maximize the impact we can have on our planet and its inhabitants.

Describe any experience with sustainable tourism.

My entire career has been focused on sustainable tourism. At Sustainable Travel International, it was my role to work with adventure travel companies (and the wider tourism industry) to understand and engage with sustainable tourism. We researched, developed, marketed, sold, and supported sustainability programs designed specifically for our industry, from travel philanthropy and carbon offsetting to eco-certification and sustainability management systems. After a 5 year stint in this advisory/consulting role, I moved over to become a practitioner of sustainable travel leading sustainability efforts at Natural Habitat Adventures. Thanks to a long-standing commitment to conservation from the company founder, we have continued to establish industry-leading sustainability practices and programs, from being the world's first carbon neutral travel company to launching the world's first zero waste adventure. I have also had the opportunity to be a judge for the World Travel and Tourism Council's Tourism for Tomorrow Awards - the industry's leading award for sustainable tourism. This experience has provided me a unique view into the practices of some of the leading purveyors of sustainable tourism across the globe, and I've had the chance to site-inspect these practices in action.

Describe any experience working in fundraising and development.

As the Treasurer of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association, I have been involved in restructuring of the organization's fundraising model. I've also implemented a unique fundraising strategy at Natural Habitat Adventures whereby we incentivize our travelers to give to our partner, WWF.

Describe any experience working with indigenous/community groups.

Many of the projects supported through NHP, STI's traveler philanthropy program, and IGTOA were/are focused on indigenous/community groups. I have been involved in the vetting of these projects as well as the ongoing monitoring of the impacts of our contributions.