SWAP: Who We Are, What We Do, & Funding   

Want to change the world? Start by changing a life.
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What We Do: Our Mission

Our goal is to change young persons' lives by providing direction and inspiration for a career in natural or cultural resource protection. The objective is to provide a meaningful life experience that is otherwise unattainable for underprivileged youth. SWAP accomplishes this by providing a fully-funded, week-long adventure for young adults from underserved communities to experience far-away lands ripe with new landscapes and cultures. These “adventures” are meant to provide educatiion, guidance, and inspiration on future career directions.

The product from these excursions is ultimately a student deciding, “Yes! This is exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life,” or (sometimes) a simple, “No, I don’t think I’m cut out for a career in natural resources.” Either response is a definitive sign that we have made an impact on a student’s life by guiding them to make their own educated decision based on new information that, without SWAP, they may have never attained.

Non-Profit 501c3

SWAP is a federally-registered 501c3 non-profit organization registered in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. SWAP is not affiliated with only one organization or agency; it is a collective program of multiple entities.

SWAP provides meaningful experiences to underprivileged youth takes tremendous coordination. Planning will be conducted throughout the year by various partners and volunteers. The active program, however, where students are engaged in the outdoor activities will take place over a two-week period once each year.


Our Board of Directors includes three voting, full time members and a selection of non-voting (but vital) student liaisons. (Just hover or tap for easier reading)   

Daryl Ratajczak, Co-Founder

Daryl received his Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Management from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Early on, he managed a small non-profit organization called the Appalachian Bear Center. From there, he secured a Wildlife Manager position with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency eventually as the Big Game Program Coordinator for the state and later as the Chief of Wildlife and Forestry (the highest wildlife position in the state). Daryl now resides (and works on the Federal side) in the West (Rockies region). In additino to being a career wildlife biologist, Daryl is an accomplished writer and has been published in numerous wildlife-related magazines.

Robert Brewer, Co-Founder

Robert grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee with degrees in Wildlife and Fisheries Science and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. He began teaching at Cleveland State Community College in 2003 where he developed the first two-year forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries program in the state of Tennessee. Robert currently teaches Conservation, Flora and Fauna of the Southern Appalachians, Dendrology, Ecology, Introduction to Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, and Majors and non-majors biology classes. He is the faculty advisor for the Cleveland State student chapter of The Wildlife Society and is very active in the conservation community. Robert enjoys hunting and fishing in his "spare" time.

Stephanne Payne

Stephanne Payne holds a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Managemen specializing in Human-Wildlife Dynamics from Oregon State University. Although her primary job as an Information Security Governance Manager in a large commercial organization keeps her quite busy, in her spare time, Stephanne coordinates Wildlife-Human Attack Response Training (WHART) for federal, state, and provincial wildlife enforcement agencies. She has donated countless hours assisting with the development of the SWAP administratively. She is an apex-predator specialist and enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, and spending time with her Anatolian Shepherd, "Bandit."

Student Liaisons

While a non-voting role, student liaisons are crucial honorary board positions allocated annually.  Our student liaisons assist in decision making and by providing future participant direction. SWAP student liaisons generally consist of four advisory members (2 from the 'East' and 2 from the 'West'). These student advisors are appointed to serve 2-year terms and provide valuable input as well as being the voice of the participants.  Feedback and other program input  is vital to the ongoing success of the program and these students have our sincere appreciation for their impact.     

Money Matters: Funding, Budgets, and Spend

SWAP is primarily funded through private and commercial donations (though they did receive a grant from the USFS in 2018). The annual operating costs for SWAP are around $25,000 - $30,000 annually. No salaries are are paid and 100% of the funds go directly to the program activites.  How does that spend break down?  Breakdown: ~65% Travel (air, ground, fuel), 25% Lodging, 10% Food and gear. Help us by donating! Use the 'filters' below to select what donation level you'd like to see!   

Sponsor a Season

For $25,000 your organization can sponsor a season of SWAP and, upon consent, receive recognition and promotion on the main SWAP webage (and, of course, it's tax deductible!)

Sponsor a Student

Your or your organization can sponsor a student for a season for only $1500. This donation level also gets you (with permission) recognition on our main SWAP webpage (and, of course, it's tax deductible!)


Platinum level contributions are any donation from $700 - $1499. All donations are tax deductible.


Gold level contributions are any donation from $100 - $699. All donations are tax deductible.


Gold level contributions are any donation from $1 - $99. All donations are tax deductible.

Amazon Smile

Amazon, Inc. offers a great program called "Amazon Smile" where Amazon contributes 0.5% of eligible purchases to the organization of your choice. Learn more at smile.amazon.com and, if you choose, please select Student Wildlands Adventure Program as your designated charity.

Contact Us

Contact us by dropping us an email or visiting on Facebook (which is also a great way to see what we're up to!).