We currently have two full time members of staff as well as an intern. The majority of our work relies on the help of dedicated volunteers from across the globe. If you’d like to volunteer, you can find out more here.
FOUNDER & DIRECTOR
Yannis Vardakastanis grew up on the island and has always had a passion for nature. After seeing first hand how tourism has negatively impacted the environment here in Zakynthos and the impact this had on the sea turtles he started his own conservation organisation Earth, Sea & Sky to protect Gerakas and the rest of the undeveloped areas. He became a full time conservationist in 1991 and established Earth Sea and Sky in 1993. Yannis’ efforts are focused in Gerakas in the region of Vasilikos, the heart of the carettta caretta nesting grounds. In 1996 a small wooden information kiosk was built, the only place on the island to educate and encourage tourists to take a closer look at the rich heritage, natural beauty, wildlife and culture of Zakynthos with the goal of protecting the island for future generations.
Since then the centre has continued to expand and develop into not only an information centre, but will soon be a fully functioning sea turtle rehabilitation centre too. All of this has only been possible thanks to support from the Sea Life Centres in Europe, donations from the public and volunteers from all over the world coming to work with Earth, Sea & Sky.
‘It’s the sea turtles that highlight the problems on the island. Their nesting sites are the main tourist beaches and their nesting time is exactly the same as the European holiday season. We have to find a way that humans and animals can co-exist.’’ – Yannis Vardakastanis.
Jonna Pedersen comes all the way from Denmark and is the project manager here at Earth, Sea & Sky. She always had a passion for animals and decided to pursue a career in this field. After graduating as a zoo keeper/animal keeper in Denmark, with emphasis on the importance of animal management, welfare and conservation, she has since worked with wildlife all over the world as a part of her career. Her passion for wildlife, the environment and conservation eventually led her to volunteer with Earth, Sea & Sky back in 2012, and she loved it so much she returned to volunteer in 2013.
She stayed in touch with the team from Earth, Sea & Sky and eventually she was offered the position of Project Manager. In 2014 she left Denmark and moved to Zakynthos to help protect the endangered Loggerhead sea turtle and other wildlife on the island. Currently Jonna is running the Sea Turtle Rescue & Information Centre and will eventually be responsible for the daily care of the injured and sick sea turtles, once the place is up running as a rescue facility. She is also in charge of the volunteer program and will be your supervisor the whole way.
‘I love my job and I am proud to be a part of this project. It is hard work but it is meaningful to me. I can’t save the whole world or all the animals but I can for sure help and make a difference—and that is my goal in life.’’ – Jonna Pedersen.