Since I was a child, I have had an affinity for all things nature. Wildlife inspired my book reports, career aspirations, TV time, and pretty much every afternoon and weekend, elbows-deep chasing tadpoles in the pond at the apartment complex next to my house. There is a majestic quality to the outdoors that romanticizes its savage tendencies, and it calls to me, in a 19th century Manifest Destiny sort of way.
While every single one of us has the ability to minimize our personal lifestyle’s impact on climate change TODAY, it is much more difficult to combat deforestation, habit loss, and illegal poaching worldwide. Surveying land, de-snaring reserves, guarding individual species and conducting research to support the progress in all of these areas is much more difficult to do. These necessities aren’t evident to the western world, so it’s easy to let the notions pass that this is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.
Uganda has made many substantial strides over the past decade, fortifying their anti-poaching and conservation efforts, resulting in increases of the vulnerable elephant and endangered mountain gorilla populations. The Great Gorilla Project in Uganda is an award-winning project that aims to help these efforts, bridging the gap between indigenous communities and the gorillas who share their rainforest homes, and helping to build sustainable agriculture and education systems.
While committing to efforts like these warrants large time and financial commitments, I want to immerse myself as deeply as possible in the continent, assimilating into Ugandan culture, getting to know the people, speaking Swahili with them, and building a rapport with those heavily involved in the process, because I wholeheartedly want this to be a part of my life forever. My experience with The Great Gorilla Project will be a springboard to starting my own non-profit organization supporting international conservational volunteers wanting to make a lasting impact.
I am a personal trainer and business owner from Tampa, Florida who has a serious passion for all things conservation, wildlife protection, and anti-poaching. For my whole life, I have always wanted to volunteer in Africa to help these efforts, an endeavor that I hope will become a regular occurrence over the course of my life.
While I want to help all endangered species, from the polar bears in the Arctic to the orangutans in Borneo, my heart lies in Africa, and it always has. I have a troop of mountain gorillas tattooed on my chest, with a couple anti-poaching rangers on guard near them, and I have an elephant, giraffe, and a rhino mother and calf in the Serengeti on my back. From very early on in my childhood, I have followed and been inspired by the amazing work of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey.
I volunteer weekly at Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Florida and that has led me to really dive into preparing for volunteering abroad. I have been teaching myself Swahili for about a year now, with the use of audio books, and feeling great about my progress, I recently began hourly tutoring sessions with an English-speaking Tanzanian, named Gasto.
Through learning the ins and outs of the volunteer process, I hope to use the knowledge and experience to create and run my own non-profit organization to help fund international volunteer trips for others who share the same passion of saving the planet and fighting the current path we are on.
I am a firm believer that the higher power we all seek to understand throughout our lives is evident in nature. It is nature. The forests are the lungs and the seas are the blood that gives vitality to the heart that is the earth. Nature isn’t here for human purposes; we are simply a sentient manifestation of it.
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