Do You BELIZE In Audrey?

I have been given an amazing opportunity and I need YOUR help. After I graduate in June, I have an opportunity to go on a research mission with Ecology Project International abroad in Belize to study the amazing ecosystem and diverse animal population. 

During our nine-day Research Mission, we will track and analyze dolphin pods, monitor and research evasive species such as the Lion Fish.  We’ll learn how the Lion Fish can potentially destroy the ecosystem.  After conducting our research along the Mesoamerican Reef, we will leave the Turneffe Atoll and head inland to the Cockscomb Basin National Wildlife Sanctuary. There, we will then be continuing our research on the jaguar population and other large mammals in the local rainforest for the remainder of our trip. 

When I was told about this trip of a lifetime, my eyes welled up with tears, I knew I had to go.  I am currently putting myself through college.  Adding the cost of this research mission to my existing college tuition, would just delay my graduation.  The total cost of the trip is $4,000, which covers transportation, lodging and food.  I will be participating in a few fundraisers throughout the year.  A portion of the fundraising proceeds will go to all the participants attending the research mission.  Finally, I will apply for a “Further Education Scholarship”.

With that, this is where you come in.  I am seeking donations to attend the research mission.  Anything you can donate would be so appreciated. I envision this trip to be life changing.  I will be participating in a program that helps our Earth’s ecosystem, and diverse animal population and bring that back to my local area in South Lake Tahoe.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Will you help?

 A little background into how I came to be in this wonderful position. 

Growing up in a single-parent household, and also being in a tumultuous environment made growing up in Ohio very tough. During my childhood, school was not a priority. I never learned what an educational foundation could do for me in life.  While I came out a much stronger person, education would have made life much easier.  I have lived in more homes than I have fingers, and was in and out of foster care. I was blessed to have such a wonderful support team during this time, filled with strong women who influenced the woman I am today.

At age 3, I moved in with my Grandma, I stayed with her for 4 years. Then moved back to Ohio where I ended up in Foster Care at age 10. At age 12, my Aunt Laura and Uncle Bill took custody of me, and I moved in with them in Discovery Bay, CA.  Both work very hard, and tried to help me find my way. It was my first stable home, and I still struggled in school.  I learned valuable life lessons with them.

I dropped out of high school my senior year, and moved out to live on my own at 18. I thought I knew it all, and I thought I could live the life I envisioned because it would just happen. Well, it didn’t. And I struggled. I luckily married one of the most supportive men I could have ever asked for. After our second son was born, it was clear to me I needed to change the trajectory of my life.  I needed to educate myself to educate my kids.  I learned very quickly that the world owes you nothing.  If you are passionate about something or want something bad enough, you have to go get it for yourself.  In 2014, I decided to go back and get my GED.  That was one of the hardest steps I have ever taken.  I was so afraid I would fail, and worried what the end result would be. 

I quickly fell in love with the idea of CHANGE. Living in South Lake Tahoe I have the opportunity to be in nature, explore the environment and learn about it at the same time.  I wanted to read whatever I could, and educate myself on sustainability.  I want to share that information with others.  Once I received my GED Certificate, I enrolled into our local Community College. Which was another tough step to take.  It was over the next two years that my passion for conservation, and restoration of our Earth’s most important ecosystems blossomed. This goes to show, no matter what cards you’re dealt, you can persevere and overcome them. Everything I have been through has made me who I am today, a good daughter, wife and mother.

 In June 2018, I will be graduating with a degree in Environmental Science: Technology and Sustainability with a major in Physical Resources. I have only dreamed of this moment.  Now, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to continue my education, and go on this research mission abroad in June 2018.  With your help, I will be able to achieve yet another personal goal!
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Organizer

Audrey Kolkana 
Organizer
South Lake Tahoe, CA
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