9/23/2014 5:00:00 AM

{Climate Alliance Alum} Sam Leist

Sam traveled to Churchill with Polar Bears International in the 2008 Teen Leadership Camp, representing the Louisville Zoo, one of our Arctic Ambassador Centers. He returned in 2010 when his team tied for first place in Project Polar Bear contest. He studied at DePauw University from 2010-­2014, where he earned a BA in Political Science and was a member of the Environmental Fellows honors program. In 2014, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and spent a year teaching English at Pamukkale University in Denizli, Turkey. He is currently a student at Notre Dame Law School and will graduate in 2018.

"Polar Bears International absolutely influenced the path that I took, and it did so in two major ways. First, it inspired me to become involved with numerous environmental efforts; many of my past and current extracurricular and professional activities are based on interests developed during my time with PBI.

"Second, it gave me experiences so unique that even today, seven years after leadership camp, PBI is still the first topic I inevitably get asked about at interviews. The various employers and educational institutions to which I have applied over the years have always been extremely interested in my PBI experiences, and I truly believe that my involvement with PBI was what set me apart in so many applications, even ones not related to environmental issues. Indeed, the multinational aspect of PBI's leadership camp was one of the points I highlighted when applying for the Fulbright Scholarship.

"PBI introduced me to some of the most dedicated and wonderful people I've ever met. I remain in contact with several PBI alum (as well as some current and former staff), and I often find myself influenced by these individuals to work harder and become smarter. It's hard to stay inactive when, pretty much every time I get on Facebook, I see friends from PBI doing incredible things with their lives.

"Many of my personal, professional, and academic accomplishments have been a direct or indirect result of my association with PBI. 

"As far as being an Arctic Ambassador is concerned, I would say the accomplishment I am most proud of is simply my volunteer work with the Louisville Zoo. I've been involved with the Zoo in some active capacity for the better part of a decade, and the experience has been one of the most significant of my life. The Zoo was a second home to me as a child, it shaped my personal development in high school, and it continues to be a place where I can go to learn and be inspired.  Being able to say that I've made (hopefully) lasting contributions to it means an incredible amount to me."

After he finishes his law degree, Sam hopes to get involved with the Louisville Zoo again. The Louisville Zoo is a dedicated AAC with zookeeper graduates of Leadership Camp. 

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