Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Tessa, Rory and Tabatha
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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Tessa, Rory and Tabatha

‘Rustic Spirit’ is found in young changemakers from all over the world. These incredible individuals are all about building strong communities and creating positive change.

These teens with the Rustic Spirit are all about protecting our planet, helping others, and making the world a better place. At Rustic Pathways we are recognizing and celebrating these extraordinary individuals.

Tessa McNeil
Age 17
Park City High School
Park City, Montana

As a leader in organizations like Future Farmers of America, National Honor Society and Montana Behavioral Initiative Tessa takes action to make meetings and events go smoothly. Tessa works with students to help create a better bond with school staff and also teaches younger students how to help others. Her favorite activity is working with kids everyday!

In the fall Tessa will attend University of Montana Western, majoring in elementary education and getting a K-12 art endorsement to teach art in the future. In her free time she enjoys golf, play time with her nephews, ceramics and photography.

Tessa says always be willing to put yourself out there and take risks. When making a positive impact, help others and make sure they are okay, but also put yourself first and don’t put too much on your plate.

Rory Joslin
Age 18
Berwick Academy
Kittery, Maine

As the co-leader of the Sustainability Club, Rory is working to bring Terracycle to the elementary division of his K-12 school. Terracycle recycles waste that normally cannot be recycled like the plastic packaging students in the lower school produce a lot of during snack time. Rory is also part of KCAN (Kittery Climate Action Now), an organization that works to increase local solar usage with subscriptions to community solar farms.

After graduation, Rory will take a gap year to travel, dance and become more independent before heading to Wesleyan University! He’s interested in majoring in environmental studies and dance. He’s particularly fascinated by using dance as a form of activism as movement can be incredibly impactful to connect with an audience. Post-college, Rory wants to continue to advocate for the environment. In his free time he enjoys dancing, choreographing, listening to music, hanging with friends and drawing.

Rory advises joining value-aligned organizations and clubs, like local activism or sustainability groups if you’re an environmentalist. Pay attention to local politics and protests. Additionally, surround yourself with supportive friends who listen and motivate action. Normalize intellectual conversations about issues and seek diverse opinions beyond your usual friend group.

Tabatha Smyth
Age 16
Clearwater Valley High School
Kooskia, Idaho

Tabatha has participated in caroling with her youth group, along with making and delivering cookies to the elderly. As a member of the school’s volleyball team she brings a positive energy while on and off the court. Tabatha and her family have also had the opportunity to give teenagers a chance to learn country swing dance!

Tabatha has many different interests including debate which has sparked ideas to become a lawyer or ASL (American Sign Language) to become an interpreter for the hard of hearing. She may decide to explore her passion for art and writing in college. But most of all, she aspires to travel to countries in poverty and assist people. Tabatha loves to write stories and poetry, create meaningful art pieces, and spend time with her family and friends.

Tabatha says try to find the good in everything and remember to have a positive growth mindset. Strive to do better than yesterday and remember to speak kind words.

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

Kayla joined Rustic Pathways in 2020 as the Director of Special Projects. She has nearly a decade of experience in communications and marketing. At Rustic Pathways, Kayla is dedicated to helping high school students discover their passion for exploring the world through summer travel programs. She drives impactful initiatives to empower students through meaningful travel experiences worldwide. Based in San Jose, California, Kayla loves the outdoors, live music and travel.