“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” Psalms 24:1
How does swimming with sharks, eating sheep organs and planting trees further God’s Kingdom? During 2006-2007 Melanie took a one year sabbatical from her full time job and volunteered for a series of animal conservation and environmental education programs located in Mongolia, Kenya, Fiji and Costa Rica.
Melanie takes this verse to heart as she uses her God-given passion for environmental stewardship to serve impoverished people in countries that depend on the disappearing natural resources around them. In Mongolia Melanie lived as the nomadic people live by sleeping on a dirt floor ger (Mongolian tent dwelling) and eating sheep organs for many meals. She helped with field research that will aid in a better understanding the endangered Pallas cat as well as taught English to the local children. She was able to share her faith with some of her students when they asked her “Why did you come all the way from America to teach us and learn about our wildlife?” Melanie’s time in Kenya was life-changing as she volunteered for a wonderful organization called A Rocha – Christians in Conservation. She was able to use her skills as a teacher in training Kenyan teachers environmental lessons they can use in their classrooms. She also worked with after school programs with kids planting trees. For two months Melanie lived in a Fijian village helping them developed their Marine Protected Area. The snorkeling trail Melanie designed will bring in money for the village and give them the money needed to send many of the local children to school. It was an awarding year of service as increasing the understanding and practices of caring for God’s creations will directly impact the quality of life to many of the people Melanie came to know during this year.
Back home in the United States now, Melanie continues to serve at the MN Zoo, as a Program Coordinator for the education department, a role she has treasured for the last 10 years. She is also serves as Vice Chair on the board of directors of an awesome environmental organization called Care of Creation. She leads environmental mission trips to places all around the world and works to educate people and protect endangered animals. Melanie’s central and unwavering dedication to caring for the world is born out of her relationship with Christ and her deep conviction that God wants, and enables us, to protect the planet over which he placed us in dominion as caretakers.