Vendala Clark, an alumna of the Alpha Rho Chapter (Ohio Wesleyan University), has been inspired to follow her dream through determination and the impact Delta Zeta has made in her life. She wants to save endangered animals and our planet. She is participating in Miami University Earth Expeditions Belize I: Approaches to Environmental Stewardship in 2016 to help make that dream come true.
Vendala, who is from Hilliard, Ohio, studied the stunning ecological, cultural and spiritual landscapes of diverse terrestrial, coastal, and coral as part of Miami University's Earth Expeditions program of communities in the Central American country of Belize and is now beginning a semester-long research project to benefit her home community.
"Right now, I am currently an intern for my local zoo and I work at a boarding resort for dogs and cats," said Vendala. "Once a week, I also volunteer at a primate sanctuary."
Vendala (right) with Lili Fikter, Ohio Wesleyan - Alpha Rho, best friend and fellow student.
Vendala is a master's student in the Miami University Earth Expeditions program, a global program offering graduate courses to people from all disciplines. Students combine an active field experience that includes study at field conservation sites, lectures, student-led discussions of key course topics, and engagement with local communities with web-based learning. The seven graduate credit hybrid courses typically run from April through mid-December, with the international field "in-country" portion of each class typically lasting 9-10 days.
"I'm so grateful for all the wonderful experiences Delta Zeta has given me throughout the years,” she said. “I have met some amazing people in my both my collegiate and my alumnae chapters. I had some of the best experiences in my life through philanthropy events, volunteering, sisterhood retreats and everything that involved my sisters. I formed wonderful friendships with people that share the same values as me. I also met great friends that I know will be there for me the rest of my life, and I'm so happy to be able to call so many wonderful women my sisters."
Delta Zeta's Pink Goes Green movement means responsible citizenship. We are stewards of the Earth. Vendala carries that same commitment. “I believe my commitment to the environment will make a difference in the world by the impact I hope to make. I have a big passion for animals. I hate seeing these amazing creatures become extinct, especially if it's by human causes. It's important to inform people about why we must care for the Earth to help save our environment and save animals from dying.
“We share this world with great creatures around us, but sadly, some people think humans own the world and we don't. Animals need our help before they go extinct. The only way to do that is educating the public so people know what is going on in this world, and to take action in making a difference. This is why educating the public is very important, so our environment and animals can be saved before we lose something that is vital to our survival.”
Lili Fikter, an alumna from Vendala’s chapter, was a triple major in zoology, geology and environmental studies at Ohio Wesleyan who went to New Zealand as an undergraduate to study the environmental concerns of the rainforests, then ventured on to Queensland, Australia to study plant and animal life. Drawn together by their Delta Zeta sisterhood and their love of nature, Vendala and Lili have shared many life-changing moments.
Vedala, left, with Lili, are Delta Zeta sisters and the best of friends, dedicated to the same cause: saving the Earth and its animals.
“Lili is one of my best friends who has inspired me so much,” Vendala said. “She always tries hard and does her best in whatever she doing; she never gives up on her goals; she has a positive attitude and has achieved so much in her life. She is a born leader who cares about the environment while educating those around her. I am so lucky to have such an inspiring sister in my life who is also my best friend.”
Vendala never loses sight of her purpose – it is truly what motivates her to never give up because she knows she can make a change for the better – for the Earth, for the animals and ultimately, for humans, too.
“My ultimate goal is that I want to save animals. I want to be like Jane Goodall and do observational research in the field. To get there I want to be a zookeeper first, and after a few years, I can do research. I love working with animals and doing whatever I can to make a difference. My role model, Jane Goodall, once said, ‘What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.’ I try to live by this every day. Miami University’s Earth Expeditions program is helping me gain experience in observational research by focusing on conservation and connecting the community. This program gives me the chance to make an important difference in the field of conservation and, hopefully, educating people along the way.
“At the end of the program, I hope my achievements can help save some animals and be able to make a difference in the conservation field."
Since the program began 10 years ago, Project Dragonfly's Earth Expeditions graduate courses -- on which the master's programs are based - have engaged more than 1,700 people in firsthand educational and scientific research at critical conservation field sites in Africa, Australia, Asia and the Americas, and for the first time