Truckee native raising funds to restore animal habitats in Australia | SierraSun.com

Truckee native raising funds to restore animal habitats in Australia

Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Michelle Campusano, a Truckee native currently attending University of Nevada, Reno, will be traveling "down under" to volunteer with Australia's endangered animals and environments.

Campusano will participate in a unique travel program in Australia this summer as a volunteer, restoring Australia's deteriorating natural habitat and declining animal population, following years of poor land practice and environmental devastation.

Under the leadership of an organization called International Student Volunteers, the 20-year-old will join 20 to 50 other individuals from around the globe in a four-week program — one part volunteer project, the other part adventure travel.

During the first two weeks in Australia, volunteers will spend their time either working outdoors on a habitat restoration project or conducting scientific research in a wildlife sanctuary.

'OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME'

To generate the greatest impact, volunteers will work alongside local Australian organizations that specialize in problem-specific conservation projects.

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Through these partnerships, volunteers are offered a diverse range of projects, such as land erosion management, rainforest and bushland regeneration, and the protection and research of endangered and declining Australian wildlife, including fairy penguins, koalas, and hooded plovers (a bird species).

"After learning that in Australia and Fiji I would get to work with the most unique and incredible animals in the world, and help build back their natural habitats, it become an opportunity of a lifetime and I had to jump on it," Campusano said.

Following the volunteer portion of the trip, participants will embark on an educational adventure tour, traveling extensively along the east coast while immersed in the Aussie culture.

Campusano will explore some of Australia's most exciting locations, experiencing activities such as rappelling in the Blue Mountains, cruising in Sydney Harbor, learning to surf in Byron Bay, and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. 

One sentiment that seems to hold true for many ISV participants upon returning home is their sense of fulfillment, knowing that they've contributed something of value to and made a difference in the environment.

FINANCIAL HELP SOUGHT

Over the last 200 years, Australia has lost many of its iconic species and has held one of the worst mammal extinction rates in the world. The volunteers' efforts help to protect and restore the unique and fragile Australian landscapes that provide a safe habitat for Australia's threatened flora and fauna.

While international travel can be costly, ISV guides participants on how to fundraise for their trip, providing them with fundraising materials. Some students work part-time jobs or reach out to family and friends to pay for their trip.

Campusano said she's been working on weekends at The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe, to raise money, but is only a quarter way there and is hoping for community support by way of a gofundme crowd funding campaign.

The URL is gofundme.com/htq7ig — the campaign ends March 10.

Those interested in helping to fund Campusano's volunteer efforts also can contact her at campgirls@msn.com or 530-414-4792.

Since 2002, ISV has offered life-changing volunteer projects, providing more than two million volunteer hours to disadvantaged communities around the world. Every year more than 4,000 students travel with ISV across six continents. ISV is based in the USA and has seven other offices internationally.

— This article was submitted to the Sun by way of International Student Volunteers. Visit isvolunteers.org to learn more.