EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Xceed Financial Credit Union is helping one 17-year-old environmentalist's dream come true.
The credit union has teamed up with the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, N.Y., to provide funding for Rachel Zoyhofski to spend a week in the remote area of Churchill, Canada to study polar bears as part of Polar Bear International's Leadership Camp.
Zoyhofski will experience the tundra firsthand, observe the bears in their natural habitat and report back to the world through blogs accessible on the zoo's Web site. Zoyhofski is one of only 32 high school students from around the world chosen to make the trip.
"Xceed Financial Credit Union is pleased to help Rachel continue with her mission to learn more about these animals and what we can do to protect them," said Xceed Financial President/CEO Teresa Y. Freeborn. "As an environmentally responsible organization, we believe these kinds of projects are vitally important, and we're thrilled to facilitate Rachel's involvement in something she's been passionate about for so long."
Xceed participates in a number of environmental initiatives including the sponsorship of the zoo's polar bear exhibit. Polar bears are widely known as one of the most endangered species, and scientists believe the animals' numbers are dwindling due to human-induced climate change.
Zoyhofski is participating in the project as the Seneca Park Zoo's first student ambassador to Polar Bear International's Leadership Camp. She earned the opportunity by writing an essay about the ways human activities affect wildlife and what people can do to help. The application process also included a number of interviews with zoo officials.
The Arctic trip is timed to coincide with the migration of the western Hudson Bay population of polar bears--one of 17 populations of polar bears in the world. For a period of about eight weeks in October and November the animals come together, waiting for the bay to freeze so their hunting season can begin.