Wild Gift Fellows Win Prestigious Awards



When Wild Gift recruited Rachel Barge, Cody Hopkins and Jessica Bell into the Wild Gift Program, they knew there was potential. They had bold and bright ideas. They were innovative, smart and creative. They were the type of individuals who could stir things up. What Wild Gift didn't know is how far these change-makers would take it.

In the past few months, each of them have soared to new heights. Here are the highlights:

Rachel Barge, Class of 2009  - Recognized by Forbes Magazine's “Top 30 Under 30 list of Rising Stars in the Energy Sector”.

With Wild Gift's support, Rachel founded Campus in Power, a national consultancy that spreads innovative financial mechanisms for campus sustainability. She helped raise $16M in the first year of the initiative, personally training over 2,000 students from over 250 universities. Rachel went on to direct the Business Council on Climate Change (BC3), a network of over 100 of the San Francisco Bay Area's leading companies sharing best practices on climate solutions.
Now a green business veteran at 26, Rachel's renewable energy incubator GREENSTART takes minority stakes in early-stage startups focused on software and apps and then brings them in-house for three months to help develop their business model, products, and brand.

Cody Hopkins, Class of 2008 - Selected as a 2012 Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneur by the Hitachi Foundation, and Entrepreneur “Up and Comer” by Forbes Magazine.

Cody founded Falling Sky Farm, a diversified, grass-based, livestock farm with a mission to provide technical, processing, marketing, and organizational support to develop a profitable and environmentally-friendly community of farms in central Arkansas. Today this community of farms serves as the backbone of a local-food system that both works in harmony with nature and reinvigorates a local economy that has historically existed on the margins. Recently, Cody implemented CONWAY LOCALLY GROWN, whose online marketing place has catalyzed a network of 35 farmers and artisans and resulted in the marketing of over $500,000 worth of locally grown and made products to a 300 member co-op.

Jessica Bell, Class of 2007 - Winner of Toronto's “Vital People Award

With support from Wild Gift, Jessica founded TOOLS FOR CHANGE, a non-profit organization that provides skills-building training to Toronto's volunteer, activist, and non-profit sectors. Today the program hosts 20 workshops a year. Jessica is also a lecturer at Ryerson University and a steering committee member of transit advocacy group, TTCriders. The Vital People Award recognizes valued leaders who are making outstanding contributions working for non-profit organizations.” The Wild Gift experience gave me the supportive boost I needed to branch out and explore my passion in helping sustainability groups advocate for change,” stated Bell. “It's the combination of the awesome mountainous trek with inspiring people followed by the months of mentoring that makes this project so worthwhile for young environmental leaders.”

These talented leaders are part of a growing Network of impressive Wild Gift fellows who have completed a unique 17-month program that begins in the Idaho backcountry. New recruits receive  a deep wilderness trek that offers the time, space and inspiration to get clarity about their own life purpose and work, up to $10,000 in grant funding, and professional mentorship to refine a “system changing” project that will advance the stewardship of wild nature and sustainable human development.

To date, the Sun Valley based nonprofit has supported 39 unique entrepreneurial ‘better world’ projects. The projects benefit local economies, the natural environment, and the lives of thousands of people in eight countries on four continents (including Haiti, Canada, Nigeria, Kenya, Chile, India, Samoa, Nepal) and 15 states.

Each year Wild Gift selects a new class of talented leaders ages 21-35 with their own transforming ideas. The organization is currently seeking applicants for the 2013 Wild Gift Class. Applications are due on April 15 and can be found online at www.wildgift.org/apply. Minorities and residents of the Wood River Valley are strongly encouraged to apply.



WHAT: Grant opportunity and other project support for social entrepreneurs ages 21-35

DEADLINE: Applications due by April 15, 2013

TO APPLY: Application forms are available at www.wildgift.org/apply

INFORMATIONAL MEETING: Thursday, February 21, 5-7 pm at the Sawtooth Brewery in Ketchum

CONTACT: Deborah Knapp at (208) 471-5091 or [email protected]









Wild Gift Alumni Rachel Barge
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