Our exceptional staff members are the backbone of our organization. Their incredibly diverse backgrounds provide us with a profound understanding of the destinations we visit and offer our students truly unique experiences. The faces you see on the following pages (along with many others!) ensure our students have fun, empowering, and safe experiences while they travel, learn, and grow.
Zandy’s passion for travel was formed at a young age. Growing up in New Zealand, he moved to upstate New York at 13 and stayed to complete his bachelor’s in hotel and tourism management at Buffalo State College. After graduating, his travels continued, taking him to all corners of the globe where he lived in Thailand, Laos, and now Australia. His mix of firsthand experience leading trips in Southeast Asia, teaching English in Thailand, and managing a travel agency in Melbourne make him a great addition to Team Australia.
Cass has spent the last 10 years travelling and working in outdoor education. With a degree in Youth Work, she loves to combine her passion for working with young people with experiential education. Before starting at Rustic in 2018, Cass was working for an Indigenous organisation and is passionate about teaching the next generation about the importance of Australian history and culture. She loves being out in the fresh air and in her spare time you will find her hiking or exploring a new corner of Australia.
Valeska is an accomplished high school teacher and sub-school coordinator who joined Rustic Pathways in 2014. With a bachelor in education and human movement from Deakin University, she is an exceptional operator who now manages finance and administration in our Australian office. Valeska’s warm, friendly personality makes her a pleasure to have on our team.
Sophie joined Rustic in 2016 to assist in our Victorian office. A former scholarship student of Toorak College and The Peninsula School, Sophie has a heart for people and is actively involved in volunteer work on a local and international level. She is an excellent administrator who works behind the scenes to prepare our school groups for travel.
Prior to Meme joining Rustic Pathways full-time in Australia this year, she has been working casually as a program leader and social media coordinator since 2014. She has led programs in Costa Rica, Southeast Asia and Australia. Hailing from Arizona, Meme has now made the Gold Coast home and with her diverse background in marketing and trip leading, Meme is a great addition to the Australian Rustic family.
Rustic Pathways spans the globe! While the cultural traditions and accents of our staff vary from country to country, the shared values that define Rustic Pathways and make us exceptional extend across all borders. We build leadership teams that pair international staff members with local employees, resulting in diverse teams that blend an understanding of our students and their needs with deep local knowledge.
Our Program Leaders come with backgrounds in teaching, experiential education, psychology, wilderness training, river rafting, international development, and other outdoor and educational fields. Each year, both new and returning staff complete an online and in-country training to uphold our standards in safety, student learning, community service, and the overall student experience. Our Program Leaders are incredible role models for our students and most importantly, they are all dedicated to creating the best possible experiences for our students.