Kaitlin Poapst of Stettler heads to Ecuador this week to volunteer for eight weeks to help preserve habitat and environment in the lush forests.
“I want to take a break from school and get some real-world experience, and do something productive, not meaningless work,” said Poapst, 18.
She’s volunteering with Global Volunteer Network, an organization based in New Zealand that connects people with communities in need.
After graduating from William E. Hay Composite High School in Stettler in 2011, Poapst studied last year at Red Deer College, where she’s working toward an arts degree with a major in political science and a minor in international studies.
“I have done a lot of volunteering locally, but not ecological in nature,” said Poapst, who departs Thursday and returns Nov. 26.
Poapst plans to work with a local organization to help “develop innovative and concrete programs in community agro-forestry and environmental education in communities in the Amazon, Bilsa, Congal and San Cristobal, among others.”
During her journey, Poapst is set to participate in research, plant conservation and reforestation, and service-station maintenance, as well as community development activities designed to empower people to use agricultural methods and products that interfere least with the region’s fragile ecosystem.
“Her dedication, and the impact she will have, is noteworthy,” said Global Volunteer Network founder and chief executive officer Colin Salisbury.
“Kaitlin will be working five days a week and will be provided simple living conditions.”