Global changemakers reunited at EarthCorps

By Sara Davis, EarthCorps

EarthCorps impacts the lands and waters of Puget Sound, but it is the impact on the person – how they see themselves, and how they choose to make a difference in our world – that makes EarthCorps unique. 

This week, we were honored to host the first-ever EarthCorps International Alumni Summit, funded by the Trust for Mutual Understanding whose mission is to support exchanges between people in the US and people in the Baltic States; Central Asia; Central, East, Southeast Europe; Mongolia; and Russia.

We welcomed seven alumni back to Seattle from Armenia, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Mongolia, Russia, Slovakia, and Tajikistan to share how their EarthCorps experiences helped to not only nurture their careers in the environmental field, but also helped them to grow personally.

A common theme shared was how EarthCorps provided them room to grow, learn about new cultures, and make a hands-on impact on our natural world.

Kobil Shokirov came to EarthCorps in 2005 as a 19-year-old from Tajikistan who had little experience in environmental restoration. His first camping trip with EarthCorps transformed how he saw nature and gave him direction for where he wanted to take his career. Today he leads Panthera’s Snow Leopard Program in Tajikistan where he studies population dynamics of snow leopards and what triggers them to attack livestock instead of their traditional prey.

Olga Romanova from Kazakhstan attributes working as a crew leader with teaching her that “without communication, you won’t go far”. She learned to listen to the team, share her voice, find ways to compromise, and inspire and motivate people differently. After spending many years working for the United Nations Development Programme in her home country, she is now pursuing a master’s degree in agroforestry.

Puje Lkhagvasuren from Mongolia says that the people she met at EarthCorps helped to shape her values, ideas, and career. EarthCorps also exposed her to the concept of restoration, and she used that experience while working at The Nature Conservancy in Mongolia, helping to conserve Mongolia’s most important lands and waters and improve the lives of people and wildlife.

EarthCorps was founded on the belief that people from different parts of the world could come together to heal the environment, share perspectives, and learn through service.

That belief is as powerful today as it was 26 years ago, and our first-ever international alumni summit proved that. It was a privilege to spend a week with these global changemakers and we are honored that they are part of our EarthCorps community.