Callie Broaddus is the founder and executive director of Reserva: The Youth Land Trust, and was recently named to the inaugural class of the Explorers Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World the World Needs to Know About. Prior to launching Reserva, Callie was a Senior Designer at National Geographic Kids, where she worked for seven years, cementing her passion for wildlife photography and youth education. She has worked around the world, photographing rhinos in Botswana, documenting sea level rise in the Marshall Islands, and leading Reserva’s participation in research expeditions to the Ecuadorian Chocó.
As an advocate for conservation, Callie has addressed the UN at COP25 Madrid, Kenya’s First Lady and Environmental Minister at Wangari Maathai Day in Nairobi, and hundreds of classrooms online. She is a member of the Rainforest Trust Council and the Cool Earth Advisory Board and serves on the Exploring By the Seat of Your Pants Board of Directors as Secretary and on her hometown Bull Run Mountains Conservancy Board of Directors as Vice President. Callie received her BS in Architecture from the University of Virginia.
After spending nearly seven years designing books at National Geographic Kids, working as a wildlife photographer and journalist in her spare time, in 2018 The Rainforest Trust appointed Callie to their Council. Utterly humbled (and, by her own admission, slightly confused), she began brainstorming a way to earn her spot—to merge her passions for wildlife, storytelling, and education in order to support land conservation. In the summer of 2018, she landed on the concept of a fully youth-funded nature reserve—something that had never been done before, that had potential to inspire world leaders, that would excite and empower young people, and that would fight both climate change and biodiversity loss. With advice from colleagues at National Geographic and the knowledgable staff at Rainforest Trust, Callie expanded on this original nugget of an idea to form Reserva: The Youth Land Trust — a group meant to recognize that young people have more than just a voice; they have financial power, and they can wield it for the planet if given the platform.
She says: “I know this to be the case because I witnessed it first hand in 2014, when my little sister lost a tragic five-month battle against cancer. A few weeks before her birthday, she asked if we could establish a fund that she would use to fight climate change from her hospital bed. She set a goal of raising $18,000 by her 18th birthday, and my family figured out the logistics of setting up a fund. By her birthday, she had raised nearly $70,000. Today, Finley’s Green Leap Forward Fund has awarded more than $250,000 in grants to organizations fighting climate change, and it continues to grow. All because one kid had a platform to act.
Since launching Reserva and meeting the impressive, diverse, passionate, interesting youth that make up our international Youth Council, I have been inspired every day by the resolve and optimism these incredible young people demonstrate. It is my hope that through Reserva’s land purchase projects and education and storytelling campaigns, every young person will feel the same level of empowerment that my sister experienced six years ago. I believe that young people, if given the platform, can save the world. And I believe that Reserva could be that platform.”
Planetary is delighted to be working with Callie and her organisation to feature voices from their Youth Council, coming soon to our homepage! You can also read more about Reserva: The Youth Land Trust on our Discover pages.