Christa Szumski

About me

I graduated from Queen’s University in 2008 with a double degree in Biology and Kinesiology.  Two years of seasonal work in the Hospitality Industry following university facilitated my many worldly adventures to follow, from the Andes of South America to the Himalayas of Nepal.  I was initially drawn to these places by the promise of epic mountain expeditions but ultimately, through the soul-searching experience of 3-months travelling solo, I came to a foundation-shaking realization: I LOVE this planet.  Its people, its wildlife, its power to constantly surprise you.  Learning from the people I met along the way, and borrowing from cultures the world over, I was committed to make a change in my life and with some perseverance, the lives of others.  I was committed to the pursuit of a conservation lifestyle and career. 

I had been staring longingly at the Explore website since my second year in university, back in 2006.  This year (2010), conditions were perfect: with a field biology contract terminating in August, and little else planned in the seemingly abyssal future, I applied to the Explore program and joined the WWF team.  Never in my wildest travel-bug dreams had I considered Madagascar as a target destination, but true to the life-changing process of travel, Madagascar delivered an inspiring cultural, philosophical, and natural experience that would change, yet again, my approach to the world.  While the other volunteers laughed when I admitted that Madagascar taught me to share, it is a value of Malagasy culture experienced in every aspect of everyday life.  It embodies every motive, every action, every utterance.  It wasn’t just about offering your neighbour the last cookie in your precious ration of trail snacks; it was about offering yourself completely – your knowledge, your strength, your compassion – to those around you, always.

 / ©: Cara Brook
Inspecting a palm-sized spider in Farafangana.
© Cara Brook

Got questions?

Send me an email:  christa@szumski.net

Why YOU Should Apply

Not that the official volunteer website hasn’t already convinced you, but here’s further motivation: the EXPLORE Program offers endless opportunity to those fresh out of school and looking for some life experience to complement all that academic knowledge we picked up along the way. 

Through EXPLORE you get:

  • A chance to travel
  • A chance to network with an international community of like-minded youth from diverse backgrounds
  • A chance to witness conservation firsthand - in the field - in YOUR opinion - not from the perspective a textbook author
  • A chance to flex your creativity in the establishment of new conservation seminars in the rural communities of your placement. 

For myself, I found that EXPLORE both reinforced and challenged those ideals that I picked up in university, it re-shaped my approach to the world, and it inspired me to future action.

Through EXPLORE you get a chance to witness conservation firsthand - in the field - in YOUR opinion!

What's Next for Me?

I remain open-minded about the future.  Life can throw just about anything at you and it makes for one thrilling ride if you take to heart the wise words of Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road … take it!”  Without throwing too much caution to the wind, I am currently applying to graduate school programs in Population Ecology to pave the way to my next great adventure.  Regardless of which way life takes me next, I will continue to challenge myself with the task of bringing the knowledge of science into the realm of public understanding so that we can collectively work together towards a future in which stewardship for Nature is ingrained in the heart of society.

When you come to a fork in the road... take it!

Yogi Berra

© Christa Szumski © Christa Szumski © Christa Szumski © Christa Szumski © Christa Szumski © Christa Szumski © Christa Szumski © Christa Szumski © Christa Szumski © Christa Szumski

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