A true highlight of working at The Road Less Traveled is our incredible leader staff. Each year we have dedicated young men and women bring our teens into the field for the summer of a lifetime. They are outstanding role models, stewards of the environment, global citizens and representatives for RLT. They come from all different backgrounds, locations and experiences but all of them, without exception, bring something unique and dynamic to the programs they lead.
Between the months of September and June, while our office staff prepares for another great summer in the field, we often get to wondering “Where are all of our wonderful leaders now?” And “How have they decided to spend their non-RLT months?” Facebook can only tell us so much and it is all too easy to lose touch throughout the year.
Therefore it is always a real treat when we we do have the time to speak with leaders and catch up on their lives more fully.
After finishing a successful summer with us on “the road”, Brittany decided to leave the country to pursue a unique opportunity in the Panamanian jungle. She currently manages cognitive and behavioral studies for Howler monkeys at the Aloutta Sanctuary and Research Station. While at UC Berkeley & SF State, she studied Animal Ecology, Philosophy and received a certificate in Pre-Medical studies so this type of work was something that appealed to her greatly.
The job has kept her busy. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow here including becoming a manager of two different research projects, creating my own research project and gaining experience with teaching American college-level students.”
At the sanctuary, she helps to take care of three orphaned juvenile monkeys. Their names are Nina, Coco, and Mojo. They all have distinct personalities that need to be handled differently. Although she knows she shouldn’t choose, Brittany told me the 7-month old Mojo is her favorite. Not only is he adorable, she says, but “he loves to snuggle!” Hopefully Nina & Coco aren’t reading this!
While working in Central America, Brittany has had to adjust to their pace: “Life in Panama is a lot slower than in the US. Sometimes it can be very difficult to get things done, even when they are as simple as picking up some new ink for the printer.”
Despite this difference, she has utilized her experiences from RLT to make the most of her time. “Being a leader taught me how to manage and plan, as well as how to motivate others and myself.” She knows that “a lot of the time plans won’t work out so you need to be able to think on your feet and adjust accordingly. There is always a bright side to things.”
In addition to her fun and rewarding professional life, the country of Panama has also brought much joy to her personal life. The people have been so kind and welcoming and, despite being a 20-something female traveling alone, she has felt incredibly safe at all times. She has taken advantage of what the country has to offer by zip lining, bike riding, snorkeling, horseback riding, climbing volcanoes and much, much more. In addition, in her backyard she has seen, “howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, toucans, scorpions, coral snakes, a giant Jesus lizard, parrots, and a capybara.” Life is good!
There are still some things she will always miss about the United States, however: “Goat cheese. They have cheese here, but it’s not the same…I went to a goat farm for my 23rd birthday. This is a serious problem in my life.”
All of us here at The Road Less Traveled are very excited and thankful to have her back for another summer of Life Changing Travel. Like all of our leaders who spend their non-RLT months pursuing their passions, we are proud of the work she is doing and we know that these new skills, experiences and passions will be brought into the field this summer to enrich an already fantastic program.