Below is our recent interview with Kayla Anzalone, Director, Special Projects at Rustic Pathways:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to your company?
A: Founded in 1983, Rustic Pathways started with rugged, off-the-beaten-path trips that took adventurous, pioneering teenaged travelers on eight-week Australian Outback experiences. Over the next four decades, Rustic Pathways built on its legacy by coupling adventure travel with service learning to help young people learn, collaborate, and build solutions to change lives and the world.
Q: Any highlights on your recent announcement?
A: We just wrapped up the first cohort of the Climate Leaders Fellowship, a two-month online program for high school students who are interested in building the leadership skills needed to create solutions to the harmful effects of climate change. The group of international students researched the effects of climate change in their own communities then found ways to combat the problems locally.
With the support of facilitators, the program participants contributed over 500 hours of service and launched 17 projects, collecting more than one ton of food and $5,000 in funds from hundreds of donors.
The contributions helped communities hit hard by wildfires, flooding, and other intense climate-related weather events in the United States, Canada, Japan and Thailand.
New applicants are invited into the Climate Leaders Fellowship every few months throughout the year.
Q: Can you give us more insights into your offering?
A: Rustic Pathways offers culturally-immersive travel programs for middle and high school students, customizable teacher-led trips for school groups, and gap year semesters for recent high school grads.
We create positive impact through transformative student travel experiences that facilitate meaningful engagement with our partners around the world. Every Rustic Pathways service initiative is designed to give students an understanding of pressing social and environmental challenges at a global level with tools to combat these challenges at a local level.
Q: What can we expect from your company in next 6 months? What are your plans?
A: The next Climate Leaders Fellowship will take place February 28 to April 30, 2022. The program is sponsored by Rustic Pathways and offered free of charge to participants. The deadline to apply for the next cohort of the leadership program is February 4.
The launch of the Climate Leaders Fellowship is part of a long-term strategic growth plan that includes investing in programs that can expand and enhance Rustic Pathways’s global impact.
In addition to the next cycle of the fellowship, we are gearing up to deliver summer programs across nineteen countries. Hundreds of students will travel with Rustic Pathways on exciting service, adventure, conservation and cultural-immersion programs in 2022.
Q: What is the best thing about your company that people might not know about?
A: Rustic Pathways programs aren’t just travel vacations for teens. Each program is intentionally designed to encourage students to think critically while challenging them to grow personally. Travel in supportive and safe environments with experiential educators, not just tour guides, allows students to exercise their independence, empathy, and self-awareness. About 98% of students experience growth in at least one of ten learning outcomes after participating in a Rustic Pathways program. We believe these skills are critical for students’ success as they tackle the world’s most significant challenges.