Where the wild things start: How Nicole Rycroft’s early love of nature inspired her environmental career

Nicole Rycroft
Curated Story
This article originally appeared on leadyoung.ashoka.org

Nicole Rycroft is protecting ancient forests by working with global book publishers, newspapers, magazines, and fashion brands — including H&M and the publishers of the Harry Potter series — to shift to alternative and sustainably produced wood-based fabrics and paper. She took her first steps toward a career as an environmental social entrepreneur by founding an environmental organization in school at the age of 9.


Ashoka Insight

Nicole’s experiences, and the adults who made them possible, exemplify Ashoka’s vision for equipping all young people with the skills and confidence to #LeadYoung. “The adults around us from teaching staff to my family really encouraged us,” Nicole said. “It was not always direct but even from the sidelines, it made a world of difference.”

“Supporting kids and young adults to be able to be comfortable with the uncomfortable is key. We should support them to trust their own instincts, help them be resilient in the face of failure and changing circumstances. They need to know that they may fall flat on their face but they can pick themselves up again. The sun will rise tomorrow.”


Claire directs Global Venture and Fellowship, Ashoka’s core program to identify and support leading social entrepreneurs. Claire initially joined Ashoka in 1998 as the Latin America program officer, evolving to take on new leadership roles as Brazil Venture Coordinator, interim Brazil Director and Youth Venture Brazil pilot leader. During her hiatus from Ashoka, Claire led a UNICEF initiative resulting in the first inter-agency programming guidelines for adolescent girls and served as Country Director for Mozambique of Oikos-Cooperation and Development between 2006-2009, launching innovative programs at the intersection of livelihoods (agriculture and fisheries), HIV prevention/mitigation and disaster risk reduction.

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