Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Taylee, Kealee and Hannah
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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Taylee, Kealee and Hannah

We often talk about ‘Rustic Spirit’ in regards to our Rustic Pathways alumni, or students that have returned from our travel programs. These students are self-aware, empathetic, and have a desire to positively impact the lives of others.

But Rustic Spirit also shines bright within young changemakers around the world. These teens are taking creative action to solve problems in their communities and inspiring others along the way.

We are recognizing and celebrating these individuals in our Rustic Spirit Series.

Taylee Thompson and Kealee Jelinek
Ages 15 and 14
Alliance High School
Nebraska, United States

Taylee and Kealee worked together to make up 73 care backpacks for foster children being placed in new homes. They got inspired to address this need after Taylee’s foster brother arrived at her family’s doorstep with nothing but the clothes on his back and a few items in his school backpack. They fill the backpacks with a blanket, stuffed animal, hair brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, and more, so foster kids have something to call their own.

Taylee enjoys playing volleyball, basketball and tennis. She plans to go to college to pursue a health profession, and is still figuring out what specialty. As a high school freshman, Taylee has plenty of time to figure that out!

Kealee enjoys creating art and watching anime, her current favorite being Dr. Stone. She’s thinking of majoring in the arts and business and would like to pursue being a freelance artist, a tattoo artist, or an owner of her own bar.

Taylee’s impact advice: Everything helps even if it is big or small; it still makes an impact.

Kealee’s impact advice: Find a service project  that actually means something to you so you can put your full heart into it.

Hannah Markelz
Age 16
Arlington High School
Massachusetts, United States

Hannah is a co-leader for Arlington High School’s Anti-Racism Working Group. She works on many of the group’s projects such as a monthly anti-racism newsletter and planning a racial identity workshop for March. The group is analyzing data for a proposal to the School Committee on why the Heterogeneous Grouping Initiative should be implemented in Arlington. Hannah has also been expanding the inclusivity of scholarships that are offered to students.

Hannah loves to sing, do theater, play ultimate frisbee, hang out with friends, and is currently learning to crochet. She plans to major in environmental science in college and aspires to become an environmental consultant who helps companies lower their negative impact on the environment.

Impact advice: Be brave and get involved! There is usually an organization out there you can join but if not, get some friends together and make your own!

Nominate a Student

Do you know a student doing valuable work that deserves to be recognized? Nominate them here! Are you making an impact? Tell us about your work here.

Make Change

Interested in creating change in your community? Check out our guide and learn how to make an impact as a student.

At Rustic Pathways, our goal is to make positive contributions to the communities we visit through responsible travel operations and community service projects that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone