A Lehighton youngster is planning a trip of a lifetime.
Samantha Miller is planning to travel to Australia in June as a Student Ambassador with the People to People Ambassador Program.
For one so young, she is ready for the experience," say her parents, Dana Miller and Dana Shubert.
Samantha is 10 years old and will turn 11 on March 5.
"She is responsible and mature enough to get the most out of the visit," said her mother.
Samantha is a fifth grade student at Lehighton Area Middle School, where her favorite subjects are social studies and art. She was recommended for the 15-day experience by one of her teachers.
She and her parents have already participated in orientation meetings and young Samantha has started learning more about the country of her dreams.
"I want to learn more about Australia's culture and country," said Samantha. "I can't wait to see the Aboriginal culture and see the Great Barrier reef." She hopes to bring home a piece of coral as a souvenir.
Thanks to the People to People program, Samantha will be doing more than seeing kangaroos as she and other students will visit the sun-drenched Sunshine Coast, and beautiful beaches of southeast Queensland. She will discover thousands of marine and freshwater animals including Asian small-clawed otters, sharks, sawfish, and tropical reef fish. She'll experience snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef alongside a marine biologist, where she'll come in contact with brightly colored tropical fish, giant clams and an array of soft and hard coral of every imaginable color.
Her interest in the Great Barrier reef compliments her high interest in biology. She has had lizards and frogs as pets and once responded to helping a snapping turtle cross a street by picking it up and taking it to safety.
"She has no problem picking up fish or anything aquatic," said her dad. "This trip fits her personality."
Her Down Under experiences will all include visiting the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Center, which was built for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. She'll be able to take a swim in this historic pool.
She'll also learn about Australia's state government during a visit to Parliament House in Sydney and she'll have an exclusive experience at the Sydney Opera House, visiting areas which are normally not accessible to the public during a guided orientation of the facility.
She'll also visit Brisbane, capital of Queensland and encounter Australia's unique fauna, such as koalas, kangaroos, crocodiles and wombats at a wildlife sanctuary.
She will also have the opportunity to taste crocodile or kangaroo meat with dinner and explore Olsen's Capricorn Caves, renowned for their unspoiled beauty and natural formations.
She is also scheduled to visit a farm and stay with a farm family, taking part in milking a cow, learning to crack a bull whip or maintaining the Station, a large landholding used for livestock production. She'll also go horseback riding, go bushwhacking and spotting wildlife.
Then it will be off to the farming community of Murgon and the Queensland Dairy Museum, where she will see traditional dairy manufacturing and then a visit to Brisbane to see the Brisbane River, Botanic Gardens, Anzac Square Memorial and historical buildings.
She'll also visit a school and learn more about Australia's schools and meet other students, while learning more about reading water, basic lifesaving and water safety skills.
People to People was founded to help students get to know and understand their international neighbors. The students aren't just tourists - they're ambassadors.
To help fund the costs of her trip from June 26 to July 10, a Longaberger, Vera Bradley and 31 Bingo fundraiser will be held on Saturday, March 9 at Mahoning Valley Ambulance, just off Route 902 near Normal Square. Doors will open at noon and games start at 1 p.m. For tickets call (610) 462-3187.