What does leadership look like to you?

Dec 14, 2018CoalitionWILD, Featured, Talking WILD

by Crista Valentino

CoalitionWILD Director

For CoalitionWILD members, leadership begins every morning they wake up committed to taking action to protect Earth.

Facing daunting challenges doesn’t start when young people step out their front doors. It starts the moment they open their eyes. A majority of young people passionate about creating environmental change are working alone, in isolation, often in areas disconnected from the rest of the world. They lack access to resources, formal education, and information. Their confidence wanes, they’re filled with self-doubt, and they believe their voice and their efforts don’t matter because they don’t matter. They have been told time and time and time again that they are a millennial – they are self-absorbed, apathetic, disengaged, and entitled. They hear that they are too connected to their devices to be connected to the Earth so often that they begin believing it’s true, so they begin believing they can’t possibly make a difference.

But despite the challenges, many persist – investing their life energy in creating a better world. Leaders like Sarah, a CoalitionWILD Ambassador from Nepal.

Sarah has lived in Pokhara, Nepal for 5 years. She moved there from the Southeast United States after developing an image-based mobile application in partnership with the IUCN Nepal to engage local fishers in citizen science to save the Ganges river.

After working in the field for years, Sarah was finding it increasingly difficult to make progress in protecting the watershed, expand educational programs and impact, and find funding for these projects. She knew the cause was important, but she was losing motivation from the constant uphill battle.

In 2016, Sarah became a CoalitionWILD Ambassador. Using CoalitionWILD’s resources, she began reimagining how she could conserve the threatened watershed of the Karnali-Mohana river basin while financing expanded data acquisition and educational initiatives throughout Nepal.

Local River Guide © Sarah Levine

With new tools and renewed passion, Sarah founded the Himalayan Outdoor Center (HOC) which brings tourists to the Himalayas on river, trekking, and mountain biking expeditions of the watershed led by local guides. Ten percent of each expedition goes directly to freshwater biodiversity conservation in the Himalayas. HOC has become a multifaceted solution that combines conservation, ecotourism, education, and community enhancement.

CoalitionWILD seeks out rising leaders on the edge of making a difference and instills in them the skills, the knowledge, and the confidence to be a leader. Not just one time, not just in their community, and not just for the immediate problem they face, but to be a leader globally, for the planet, for a lifetime.

Sarah knew the importance of biodiversity and watershed conservation in these key areas of Nepal. Through CoalitionWILD’s Ambassador program, Sarah gained access to the tools and conviction she needed to bring her vision of conservation and education to life.

Sarah is just one of hundreds who have grown into strong leaders through CoalitionWILD and is a shining example of the power of young people with the resources and courage to change the world.

For CoalitionWILD, it isn’t our job to save someone or to change someone. We are not giving a hand out. We are reaching back to a hand that is reaching out for us, and in that hand we are placing empowerment.

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