How You Can Create Change in Your Community and Abroad
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How You Can Create Change in Your Community and Abroad

I love my job—want to know why? I get to work with the unstoppable Rustic alumni who raise funds and awareness of high-priority community projects through the Rustic Pathways Foundation. These go-getter rockstars are called Impact Ambassadors, and through this program they are all connected in a chat group sharing ideas and tips for fundraising, connecting with other Impact Ambassadors in their city, earning prizes for their hard work, and more.

Rustic alumni become Impact Ambassadors by creating a fundraising page for the project they are most passionate about. The fundraising page is customizable, so students will share their story from their impactful travel experience, and share meaningful photos with their supporters. Rustic alum Sophia Sharma, who is supporting the Peru Amazon Conservation Fund took this a step further by explaining ways you can support the Peruvian Amazon without making a donation. To me, Sophia’s story is a testament that young people are having a real impact, and they are starting to make change right now.

The Amazon Rainforest needs our support now more than ever, and Sophia is here to tell us why:

Just landed in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Next stop, Las Piedras Amazon Center!

Hey! My name’s Sophia. This summer I visited Las Piedras Amazon Center (LPAC) during my time on the “Andes to Amazon” program, and it completely changed my life. The Peruvian Amazon is so unique and special and I believe it’s so important to keep it like that for future generations. LPAC is truly a special place. Not only is the scenery beautiful and unique, but the people are amazing, too! I met researchers who call LPAC home and dedicate their lives to studying and conserving the Amazon. The staff and guides at LPAC are also wonderful and work hard to keep the Amazon so incredible! For me- meeting the people and hearing how passionate they were about the Amazon is what made the experience so meaningful.

Unfortunately, problems such as illegal logging for mahogany, and cattle farming are causing deforestation. This not only kills trees, but also causes habitat loss for so many of the wonderful species that live in the Amazon.

LPAC and ArcAmazon works to help stop those things. They also help to teach local people how to earn an income in a way that is more sustainable for the environment. They help people to understand how much they can benefit from keeping the Amazon Rainforest healthy and beautiful.

Learning about all the unique characteristics of the Amazon and talking to all the amazing people inspired me to want to continue to make an impact at LPAC. LPAC is one of my favorite places in the world, and I would love it if any of you are able to help with a donation to my fundraising page! The Rustic Pathways Foundation supports LPAC, by empowering students like me to raise funds and awareness. The really exciting part is that 100% of donations on my fundraising page will go directly to the conservation efforts in the Peruvian Amazon.

But don’t worry if you cannot donate! I completely understand, and want to share some things you can do in your daily life that will help a lot:

  • Reduce your use of single-use plastic.
    Stop eating red meat. The beef/cow industry is responsible for a lot of deforestation in the Amazon because they need space for the cattle to graze.
  • Be educated on the companies that you support. As a consumer you vote with what you buy, make sure your contributing to companies that have values you support!
  • Buy local! This not only benefits your local economy, but also reduces plastic shipping waste and fuel!
  • Spread the word! Tell people about what is happening and what you can do to help!

Feel free to reach out to foundation@rusticpathways.com with any questions you have! I could talk about this place for hours- haha!

Sophia Sharma

Sophia and fellow Rustic student, Kenzie, on the Las Piedras River in the Peruvian Amazon

WAY TO GO, SOPHIA! We should all be a little more like you. You can support Sophia by sharing this blog post, incorporating her simple steps into your daily routine, or by making a donation to her fundraising page.

Learn how you can make an impact like Sophia here!

About the Author

Alex Biddle

Impact Marketing Coordinator

Alex is a proud native of Ohio and graduate of The Ohio State University with degrees in international relations and Spanish. Through many trips to Latin America and as an exchange student in Spain, Alex speaks Spanish fluently. Alex joined Rustic in 2015 as a Program Leader in the Dominican Republic where she later managed programs. She's also led programs in Vietnam and Peru. Alex now uses her passion for experiential learning, endless optimism, and creativity on marketing initiatives for the Rustic Pathways Foundation. She also owns a small jewelry business, where she crafts bracelets with vintage sewing buttons.