Q&A with Wildlife Madagascar’s 199th Member: Alexandra Ramirez

Tell us a bit about yourself. How would someone you know describe you?

I am an Asian Latina American and the youngest in a blended family. I am very involved in both my school and community, and I am passionate about supporting organizations such as Wildlife Madagascar because of my love for our beautiful planet. At my high school, El Camino Real, I play defense on the varsity soccer team. I am the president and founder of the Sunshine Club, which helps teens build meaningful relationships with seniors through games and music. I am also a co-president of the Women’s Athletics Rehabilitation and Strengthening Club, which educates female athletes on recovery through various strengthening and stretching exercises.   

Additionally, I am part of the Peer College Counseling Program, where I work closely with college counselors to learn about the college application process and mentor my fellow students through their own college selection process. I am also the founder and co-owner of A-OK Balloons, a small local party balloon business. I represent the 12th District of Los Angeles in the LA Zoo’s Teen Council for Conservation. In this position, I develop skills in conservation and community building and engage in creating meaningful solutions for environmental justice and climate change.   

Lastly, I am part of West Valley’s YMCA Youth in Government, where I serve as the Speaker of the House and facilitate weekly current events and government-related activities. How would someone best describe me? I would say, busy, but I am also hardworking and compassionate in all the activities I am involved in. I am driven to learn as much as I can about enacting positive change in my community to help others.   

Who or what inspires you?

My mom inspires me because she has provided countless opportunities for growth and love throughout my life while managing many other responsibilities. She pushes me to succeed in the opportunities I have been given, and I am forever grateful to her. When I hear stories and reflect on her many achievements, I am deeply impressed and hope to be as incredible as she is one day. She inspires me to be brave and resilient in times of struggle and to be respectful and caring in times of gratitude and opportunity. My mom is a strong foundation I can lean on, and she is the inspirational woman and idol I look up to.  

What book have you read or film have you seen that made a big impression on you?

The book Wonder made a significant impression on me during my childhood, and the lessons I learned from it still impact my life today. In the book, Auggie, the main character, has Treacher Collins syndrome, which causes significant facial defects. Despite the social challenges he faces, he perseveres and finds joy in the little things. This book taught me to be grateful for what I have and to always look on the bright side, even when times get tough. It also showed me the importance of a tight-knit community and the value of quality over quantity in friendships, as Auggie wouldn’t have been able to face his difficulties without his supportive family and caring friends.    

Have you had a particularly memorable experience with animals or nature?

My favorite animal encounter is a childhood memory of when my Great Aunt Dude would take my sister and me to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, now known as the Safari Park, to feed the lorikeets. I loved interacting with the birds and felt great joy watching them fly and feeding them. My grandparents retired in San Diego and were zoo members, so visiting the monkeys at the San Diego Zoo and riding the tram at the Wild Animal Park are some of my fondest memories. Learning about the animals and spending so much time at the parks fueled my early love for animals and the conservation efforts to keep them and the environment safe and healthy.   

What draws you to support wildlife conservation and education?

The summer before my sophomore year, I took a recycling course at Cal Poly that opened my eyes to a whole new world of proper recycling and home composting. This class changed my life, giving me hope for my role in global conservation efforts. My education in wildlife conservation continues today through my job on the LA Zoo’s Teen Council for Conservation and the numerous educational opportunities I have to learn about the world around me. These experiences have provided valuable insight into how I can contribute to preserving our beautiful world correctly. They have also reinforced the importance of education and conservation for ensuring a better tomorrow for everyone.  

What do you find interesting about Madagascar?

Madagascar fascinates me because of its many unknowns waiting to be discovered. I have been fortunate enough to attend several Wildlife Madagascar events, where I learned about numerous species I had never known existed. This has sparked a great curiosity for exploration and discovery. The unique species that inhabit Madagascar are truly captivating, and I am grateful for the opportunity to support their conservation. It would be a dream come true to visit Madagascar one day and witness its unique biodiversity firsthand.  

Why did you become a member of Wildlife Madagascar? What about this organization is meaningful to you?

My mom introduced me not only to the amazing Wildlife Madagascar organization but also to the brilliant and extraordinary Ms. Debra Erickson. Through my involvement with Wildlife Madagascar, I have witnessed the meaningful work the organization has accomplished, and I have had the privilege of spending time with Debra, learning more about her life’s work. Her experiences at Scripps College, her contributions to the San Diego Zoo, and her involvement with Wildlife Madagascar are all a testament to her incredible dedication to making a positive impact in everything she does. Debra’s unique bravery opens doors through her authenticity, her passion for life, and her kind heart—everything is better when Debra is a part of it. Debra has become an inspiration to me in paving a path to show me that positive change in conversation efforts is possible.