Voluntary Ecological Year (FÖJ)
The Voluntary Ecological Year (Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr - FÖJ) is an ecological education year for young people. Volunteers work for one year in various environmental protection and nature conservation institutions or in education for sustainable development (ESD). They guide visitors through a nature conservation area, direct offers for school classes and children’s groups, maintain biotopes and much more.
The FÖJ is for young people who want to work voluntarily for one year and look for occupational guidance.
The young volunteers work 38.5 hours per week at their work place. In return they get pocket money and social insurance. Work places which provide free accommodation and food pay €180 pocket money. In addition, the volunteers get good guidance and a lot of knowledge from professional supervision at their work place and by five one-week seminars which are organised specifically for them.
The FÖJ has existed in Lower Saxony since 1987 and meanwhile over 3,000 young people have participated. They not only came from Lower Saxony, but from all German states and over 20 countries from around the world.
Having finished the FÖJ, the volunteers have got to know some occupational fields in environmental protection and nature conservation. They generally became more independent and have a lot of knowledge and many skills which will be useful in their further life. Furthermore, they have the good feeling of having done something really meaningful.
The FÖJ in Lower Saxony is financed by the state of Lower Saxony, the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea Foundation, the Lower Saxony Bingo Foundation for Environment and Development Collaboration.
For a number of years, two model trials have been carried out in which volunteers are employed mainly in all-day schools and sports clubs in order to pass-on environmental protection and nature conservation issues with regard to ESD themselves and to initiate outstanding environmental projects.
The Voluntary Ecological Year (Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr - FÖJ) is an ecological education year for young people