Our People: Jaclyn (Jax) Stephenson, ISV Southern Africa Project Manager

by isvolunteers on Monday, 24 November 2014

Jax on the community health care/medical project in St. Lucia

Jax on the community health care/medical project in St. Lucia, caring for one of the babies while helping give nutrition to the children and their parents (c) Jaclyn Stephenson

Meet Jax, the incredible individual behind the management of ISV’s Southern Africa Volunteer Program. Becoming an ISV Program Manager is one of the most sought after positions at ISV… here’s a bit about Jax and why we chose her to join ISV’s international team of executive program staff.

Born and bred South African, Jax is no stranger to ISV, having started in 2012 as a Project Leader, leading ISV volunteer groups across a variety of disciplines including medical, pre-vet, conservation, construction, and children’s development programs

We asked Jax what she loved about project leading for ISV…

“I felt like I had become an expert in a variety of things as I worked around the country – a jack of all trades – HIV/AIDS teacher, Game capturer, Environmental educator, painter, vulture handler, Cheetah mother! What a fantastic journey!”

Because of her professionalism, outstanding communication skills, and personable nature (she’s one of the most immediately likeable people you’ll ever meet), Jax was also invited to train as a tour leader and led the 7-Day Optional Wild Africa Excursion in Zambia and Botswana. When we asked her about her favourite group of all time…

“The ISV Australian high school trip was one of my best that I have ever led – I loved working with the under 18’s, as they grew dramatically as individuals and were motivated changed adults when they left to go back home.”

ISV conservation research volunteer team

Jax (centre in black shirt) with an ISV conservation research volunteer team (c) Jaclyn Stephenson

Jax has an exciting background that she brings to the ISV team. Before ISV Jax worked for The Cape Leopard Trust as their Environmental Educator in Cape Town, and lead Environmental education walks, talks, Eco-clubs and camps – trying to get children from all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds into nature.

“My belief is – If you get the youth to fall in love with something, it will excite them, they will then respect it, and in turn want to protect it.”

Her studies at Rhodes University included Journalism (especially Photojournalism and radio) and media studies, teaching ESL in South Korea, and a Post Graduate study in Environmental Education through WESSA (Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa), for which she dedicated her practical thesis/learning program on her ISV experiences.

“I looked at sustainable development issues and helped inform and teach students to create a low carbon footprint living and minimal environmental impact while on ISV projects. ISV’s mission statement and volunteering efforts, and my motivated learning program complimented one another and created an amazing project for the students.”

Jax, hiking in South Korea, (c) Jaclyn Stephenson

Jax, hiking in South Korea, (c) Jaclyn Stephenson

Jax fits right in with the rest of the ISV program management team who are all the “outdoorsy” type. When not working for ISV you might find her hiking, climbing, travelling in and around Africa, 4X4’ing, doing sport (you should see her hit a baseball), or even studying another language.

When asked, what do you want to achieve in your role as Project Manager?

“I hope to continue inspiring and encouraging young people in getting more involved in communities and nature locally and globally, so that we can create determined, selfless and active global citizens who want to make a difference.”

If you are joining ISV’s program this summer in South Africa (excellent choice BTW), you are in safe hands with Jax at the helm of our volunteer projects.

To learn more about ISV’s meaningful volunteer and responsible travel programs, please visit our website.

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