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By: The Elephant Sanctuary

EleAmbassador Spotlight Series

One of the primary tenants of The Sanctuary’s mission is to raise public awareness about the complex needs of elephants in captivity and the crisis facing elephants in the wild. The Sanctuary’s EleAmbassador Program is the grassroots arm of our outreach efforts, and our volunteer EleAmbassadors provide a face and voice for The Sanctuary in their communities. On any given week, EleAmbassadors around North America are giving educational presentations to elementary classrooms, social/service clubs, faith-based groups, and Girl and Boy Scouts as well as planning and hosting exhibit booths at concerts, festivals, fairs, libraries, and yoga studios.

Recognizing the value of empowering these community-based volunteers with training and resources, The Sanctuary launched its EleAmbassador Program in 2013. By the end of the first year, we had 14 trained EleAmbassadors. As of April 2018, 147 EleAmbassadors are located in 31 states and four Canadian provinces.

We spoke to seven dedicated EleAmbassadors to shine a light on the amazing work they’re doing around the country to support The Sanctuary and advocate for elephants—perhaps you’ll be inspired to become an EleAmbassador yourself. Visit www.elephants.com/volunteer to learn more.

Bottom left: Carol Porsch; Middle left: Claudia Wyzard; Top left: Nicole Ramspacher; Top middle: Liisa Booth; Top right: Jeff Ramspacher; Bottom right: Sadie Allgood.

How did you first hear about The Sanctuary and what inspired you to volunteer?

Nicole and Jeff Ramspacher
Philadelphia, PA

Jeff was the first out of the two of us to hear about the sanctuary. When Jeff and I started dating, he always knew how much I loved elephants and how important conservation was to me. For Valentine's Day, he adopted Liz as a gift to me! We were able to participate in a Volunteer Day soon after. We drove from Philadelphia to Tennessee because we just knew how special the work was that The Sanctuary was doing and wanted to do anything we could to be a part of it. 

Carol Porsche
Oxford, CT

I believe I heard about it on the news and from someone in conversation. I love all animals but in particular elephants, whales, dogs, and turtles…The story of the elephant in India, Raju was so heartbreaking, I couldn’t bare not helping the cause.

How do you raise awareness of The Sanctuary?

Sadie Allgood (age 8)
Rutledge, GA

I always have an elephant booth at the fair in our town. I bake cookies and brownies, and have lemonade and sell them at the booth. I display all my fosters’ pictures and info about The Sanctuary. On my birthday and Christmas, I ask for money for my elephants.

Nicole and Jeff Ramspacher
Philadelphia, PA

Our events vary, we really do anything that people are willing to have us at! A big piece for us, living so far away, is getting the word out to friends, family, neighbors etc., through social media posts and even wearing our Sanctuary gear around is a great conversation starter to educate others.

Claudia and Don Wyzard 

Odessa, MO

We staff booths at concerts. We also create and sell paintings and donate a portion of proceeds to The Sanctuary. Each client gets a newsletter.

What’s your favorite story about The Elephant Sanctuary

Sadie Allgood (age 8)
Rutledge, GA

Tarra and Bella's friendship.

Nicole and Jeff Ramspacher
Philadelphia, PA

The story of Dulary is near and dear to our hearts as she was a Philadelphia resident for a large part of her life. 

Liisa Budge-Johnson
Plymouth, MA

Gotta be Shirley's story. 

What is your proudest accomplishment as an EleAmbassador?

Claudia and Don Wyzard 

Odessa, MO

I’ve been on the radio twice, and local news once, being an ambassador gave me the courage to step out more into the public eye. I hosted the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos twice, and I’d never done anything like that before.

Sadie Allgood (age 8)
Rutledge, GA

Getting to visit the Welcome Center a few years ago. I got to meet Todd and all the keepers!!! I especially loved meeting (Africa Barn Lead) Kristy. She told me that I can have a job there when I turn 18. The day I visited, I took a paper bag filled with a stuffed elephant for each elephant. I decorated each bag for each elephant at the sanctuary. Ms. Kristy got my address while I was there and mailed me some pictures of Tange and the elephants getting the enrichment bags that I made for them.

Nicole and Jeff Ramspacher
Philadelphia, PA

Having an article written about us and our journey to volunteer published in our local paper! Our article raised a lot of awareness and even brought in some sizable donations.

What does “sanctuary” mean to you?

Claudia and Don Wyzard 

Odessa, MO

Xanadu! A safe-haven where you have nothing to worry about, a place to heal and grow and just be you!

Carol Porsche
Oxford, CT

A safe haven, a beautiful home on the terms of the inhabitants it was created for.

Sadie Allgood (age 8)
Rutledge, GA

Protecting elephants 

Nicole and Jeff Ramspacher
Philadelphia, PA

To us, sanctuary means home and safety, which is what we think makes The Elephant Sanctuary so special. 

Liisa Budge-Johnson
Plymouth, MA

The chance for the elephants to live out their lives as close to being in the wild as possible.

Bonus question: If you could ask Shirley one questions, what would it be?

Carol Porsche
Oxford, CT

How have you had the strength and courage to deal with the struggles you have had to endure?

Liisa Budge-Johnson
Plymouth, MA

Do you know what you, personally, have done to motivate me in spreading the word about captive elephants? 

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