Manager of the Ultimate Adventure for the Natural Traveler
Stacey works for Manaca. She has a COOL JOB Managing the Ultimate Adventure for the Natural Traveler.
Manaca is a company that equips ecotourists to travel with conscience and confidence. They practice Earth-friendly trips and make travelers part of the ultimate adventure while saving the natural environment.
"My parents have always been into traveling. Since the time I was a baby they have taken my brother and I along. I think this is what all began my wanderlust. I was exposed at an early age and consistently throughout my life to the natural wonders and the diverse cultures of the world. I started becoming interested in community service and environmental issues when I was in high school and got really involved in volunteering while in college. At some point I just got it in my head that I could combine those two passions and make a career out of it," Stacey said.
Her first real break was a job with Visions Service Adventures. Visions Service Adventures is a coed summer program for teenagers combining construction-based community service, outdoor exploration and adventure, and intercultural living. "This seemed like the ideal job to me because it combined community service with travel, and I got to work with teenagers, which I also really like," she said.
A Day in the Life of:
A TYPICAL DAY'S WORK WHEN VISITING AN ECOLODGE: 5:00 AM - wake up and go to a previously determined scenic spot to photograph the sunrise and record bird songs 6:00 AM - find coffee! 7:00ish - eat some breakfast at the lodge - usually wonderfully prepared fresh local foods and fruit - and drink more coffee. 8:00 AM - pack up camera and video equipment and set out on a rainforest hike with a local guide. What may ordinarily be a 3 hour hike turns into a 5 hour hike as we stop often to photograph wildlife and interview the guide on video in various beautiful spots. During this hike, we may climb into a tree canopy walkway system, or rappel a waterfall, or go horseback riding or canoeing. We will do (and video/photograph) whatever the lodge has to offer to guests so as to highlight these activities. 1:30ish PM - back to the lodge for a freshly prepared local lunch 2:00 PM - wander around the ecolodge's grounds, photograph rooms, grounds, common buildings, gardens, etc. making sure to capture sunset in a beautiful spot. Interview lodge owner on video. Sit down with lodge owner and ask him/her lots of questions about their environmental impact and community involvement - what types of conservation projects they are involved in, how they are working to minimize their impact on the land, etc. 6:30ish PM - lay in a hammock overlooking pristine rainforest and rivers and drink a local beer! 7:00 PM - eat a fabulous dinner prepared by local cooks at the lodge 8:00 PM - chat with other travelers, lodge employees - get their impressions of the lodge and surrounding areas 9:30 PM - back to my room to review digital photos from the day and record notes 10:30 PM - SLEEP!!
Stacey has spent the past 4 summers working for an organization called Visions Service Adventures. There, she directs community service/outdoor adventure/cross cultural summer programs for teenagers. She works mostly in the Caribbean although Visions works throughout the Caribbean, Peru, Montana, Alaska, and the South Carolina Sea Islands. Visions has both 3 and 4 week programs in which teenagers live in a communal situation, spend about 60 percent of their time doing community service projects, and the rest of their time enjoying the environment they are living in (scuba diving, snorkeling, beach, hiking, camping, rock climbing, kayaking, etc).
Before Visions Stacey worked for Pittsburgh Habitat for Humanity for 3 years (2 years as a VISTA - part of Americorps program, and 1 year as staff). With Habitat she was the Special Projects Coordinator.
"I really liked this job because there were so many different aspects to it. I worked on fundraising events, public relations, construction projects, and supervising volunteer committees," she said- Her connection to Manaca came from a job with GreenMarketplace.com - an online catalogue of environmentally friendly products. The CEO at GreenMarketplace.com knew the CEO of Manaca. They were talking about working in partnership to offer responsible travel to GreenMarketplace.com members and customers. "The CEO at GreenMarketplace.com knew my passion for travel , especially travel with a conscience, and he suggested that I meet the CEO of Manaca. (I guess sometimes it really is who you know!!)" she said.
Stacey has done lots of volunteer work throughout her life - mostly with Habitat for Humanity and Big Brother/Big Sister.
"There are many great parts of my job. I don't think that I could pick just one. I love that I get to travel to exotic and pristine places. I love exploring the natural wildernesses of different countries while they still exist! I also love that I am doing work that promotes conservation and environmental and social responsibility."
"The most difficult part of my job is definitely the endless hours I spend on the computer doing research on ecolodges and service project opportunities. There is a lot of background research and follow-up paper work that I must do."
Words From the Wise:
"I know it sounds cliché but - follow your dreams! I can't tell you how many people told me that I was crazy when I said I wanted to somehow combine community service and travel in my career. They ALL told me that I would never find anyone to pay me for that. But not only did I find one job to pay me for that, I have found 2 - and there are more out there! You can create whatever you want in life so don't settle for anything less. And be willing to accept jobs in between that come your way even though they may not be your dream job. Everything happens for a reason - and you never know what something may lead to!"
I am currently finishing up my Masters degree in International and Developmental Education Perspectives.