Meet Sophia Vacanti, an AmeriCorps member serving in the southeast region of Nebraska.

Read on to hear from Sophia on what brought her to Conservation Nebraska and our AmeriCorps Common Ground program!

Sophia can’t remember a time when she didn’t care about the earth, but she also can’t tell you where her interest originated from. Sophia grew up in Baldwinsville, New York in a forest of suburban houses. She was born into a family of musicians and she couldn’t tell you the difference between a spruce and a fir tree if her life depended on it.  As far as she can remember, there’s nothing in her life that nudged her towards an interest in the environment, and yet for whatever reason she decided that she cared. A lot. 

Sophia always spent her summers in the backyard climbing trees and picking up bugs. In school, she was constantly hammering her friends and relatives with weird nature facts. (Did you know that one of the loudest animals in the world is a two centimeter long shrimp?) Nobody ever told her to consider going into conservation, she just knew it was what she was meant to do, before she even knew what the word meant. 

In high school, Sophia led her school’s environmental club. It had been a dream of hers since the fourth grade, but she quickly found that leadership wasn’t something that came naturally to her. She had plans and ideas, but lacked the voice to say what those were. She felt that her leadership skills were lacking and she was always surprised when people would show up. She desperately wanted to become more confident in herself so that she could do a better job of leading others and showcasing her passion.

After graduating, she found the Conservation Nebraska AmeriCorps program and decided that she was going to take a gap year to travel and serve. She had heard from others that AmeriCorps was a life changing experience and she was looking for something just like that. Wanting an adventure, she applied to be a Conservation Director for a non-profit that was six states away from home.

Sophia joined AmeriCorps to learn how to be a leader. She wanted to shed her shy, stammering, and anxious habits and grow into a strong, independent, and charismatic person that can leave an impact on the world. Joining AmeriCorps has quickly pushed her out of her comfort zone and is teaching her the leadership skills that she wanted to develop so that she can use them to fulfill her life goals. 

After her service term with Conservation Nebraska, Sophia will be returning to New York where she will be attending the State University of Environmental Science and Forestry to study Wildlife Biology. 

Thanks for your service Sophia!