An exciting year is coming for BIOSPHERE Environmental Education

Copyright Shelley L. Ball

Copyright Shelley L. Ball

Hello Everyone!

It’s been a long, long time since I last posted on our blog. I’m amazed at how life seems to drive us in a different direction, at least temporarily, sometimes. The past year has been a challenge for me (Shelley). I returned from the amazing arctic expedition I was on last July. It was a phenomenal experience. I began to post about my adventures when my Dad became very ill. Hence, I wasn’t able to finish posting about our expedition. Sadly, in September, my Dad passed away. I spent the winter settling his estate, which was a massive amount a work and stress. And then, in spring, my husband of 10 years and I, divorced. We’re still friends, which is great. It’s been a challenging year to say the least.

But as we learn from life, challenges make you stronger. Challenges are part of any adventure, any expedition. They test your mettle. They push you to your limits, physically, psychologically, emotionally. But when you come out the other side of the adventure, you come out stronger, more resilient, and having learned something from your experiences. Certainly, this is true for me and the kind of year I’ve had.

I’ve really missed posting here on the BIOSPHERE blog and it’s been hard to have to put BIOSPHERE on hold for a while. But I’m back and raring to go.

The necessary hiatus I’ve had to take from BIOSPHERE makes my return all the sweeter and not the least because of all the exciting things unfolding. I’ll be posting about these in upcoming blog posts, but here’s a snapshot of what’s to come….

In December of 2016, I’m headed to Antarctica! I’ll be headed there with 77 other women scientists from around the world on a women-in-science leadership expedition. I can’t wait to tell you about it. So look for info on this here on the blog in the next few days.

May 2015 – was when our Arctic Impressions photography exhibit was installed in the largest art gallery of the Ottawa International Airport. The images are from last summer’s arctic expedition. But they are not my images. They are the images of the students on the expedition. I taught a photography workshop on the expedition and then issued the challenge to students to make great photos because the best of the best would be exhibited at Ottawa Airport. And they were! I’ll post more about that soon, but I’m in the process of getting the images online at our BIOSPHERE Environmental Education website. I’m also working on finding another venue for the exhibit in the hopes of turning it into a travelling exhibit. Stay tuned for more on this in the next few days.

2017 – there’s still a LOT to plan and this is fairly tentative, but I’m aiming for 2017 to be the very first of BIOSPHERE Environmental Education’s Environmental Learning Expeditions! This will be the full roll-out of the Youth Environmental Ambassadors Programme. I’m so excited! There’s a ton to do to even get to the point of formally announcing the expedition and getting the advertisement out there to students. But I’m determined to get it going. So stay tuned for more on this in upcoming blog posts.

I hope you’ll tune into our blog regularly for our exciting news. And feel free to pass the link to our blog and website on to others you think might enjoy it.

All the best,

Shelley

Founder & CEO of BIOSPHERE Environmental Education

www.biosphere-ed.org

Arctic Expedition 2014 – the story of our adventure…sailing from Kuujjuaq

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On July 12th, Day 4 of our adventure, we woke super early, gathered up all of our gear and headed for the school buses, which took us to the Ottawa International Airport. There we loaded our mountain of gear and hoped that we weren’t about to overpack our First Air charter flight. It’s happened on previous expeditions, apparently. Sucks to be on the tarmac, scratching your forehead and wondering what to leave behind because the plane just can’t handle the weight of all of it. In the end, it was beer bottles that were left behind. But that’s another story that I’ll tell a little later. And it does have a happy ending.

The excitement over the start of the northern part of our adventure was palpable, despite the early hour of the morning

The excitement over the start of the northern part of our adventure was palpable, despite the early hour of the morning

 

Our charter flight was headed to Kuujjuaq, a remote community on Ungava Bay, in northern Quebec. Our ship would be waiting for us in the bay. And we were so anxious to get on board and begin the expedition component of our adventure together. Our flight time from Ottawa to Kuujjuaq was about two hours.

Boarding a flight from Ottawa to Kuujjuaq in the early morning. The air was buzzing with excitement.

Boarding a flight from Ottawa to Kuujjuaq in the early morning. The air was buzzing with excitement.

Welcome to Kuujjuaq in northern Quebec. Population ~ 2,400.

Welcome to Kuujjuaq in northern Quebec. Population ~ 2,400.

We arrived to overcast skies, much cooler temperatures than we’d had in Ottawa, and an incredible landscape. We walked about a mile from the airport to the town’s community centre and then had a walk around town, headed down to the beach and then back to the community centre for a BBQ that the town had put on for us. Youth from our expedition connected with local youth and soon, friendly challenges of Inuit games and rapping and beatbox were being exchanged.

The village of Kuujjuaq, home to some of the students on our SOI expedition.

The village of Kuujjuaq, home to some of the students on our SOI expedition.

 

Stretching our legs on the beach and enjoying the fresh, cool air.

Stretching our legs on the beach and enjoying the fresh, cool air.

After a few hours in town it was time to head for our ship, the Sea Adventurer. She had come upriver a bit and anchored, waiting for our arrival. But we still had about a 30 minute zodiac ride to get to her. Exciting! Our first ride in the zodiacs! As we sped down river, the wind in our hair and the northern sun on our faces, the rhythmic bouncing of the zodiac on the waves, we soaked up the scenery as we went.

The shoreline as we headed downstream, from Kuujjuaq, towards the Sea Adventurer, our floating home for the next 12 days.

The shoreline as we headed downstream, from Kuujjuaq, towards the Sea Adventurer, our floating home for the next 12 days.

The landscape around Kuujjuaq and along the river is rugged. Kuujjuaq is located just at the edge of the boreal forest treelike. So you see some trees to the south, but they are small spruces. And the treelike quickly disappears as you head north. The shoreline is rocky and rugged. Looking out onto the massive pieces of rock, one expected to see a polar bear lumbering across the landscape.

The rocky and rugged shoreline near Kuujjuaq

The rocky and rugged shoreline near Kuujjuaq

The crevices in this ancient rock creates its own version of art

The crevices in this ancient rock creates its own version of art

Leaving the tree line behind us, the ruggedness of the landscape seemed more apparent

Leaving the tree line behind us, the ruggedness of the landscape seemed more apparent

As we made our way down river in the zodiacs, everyone was pretty quiet. Talking above the sound of the outboard motor was difficult. But part of the silence was that we were all just taking in our surroundings. For many on the expedition, this was the farthest north they had ever been. The magnitude and magnificence of the landscape was something many had not experienced before and none of us could help but just look and watch as we sped along.

Our first zodiac ride of the expedition. One of many, but in some ways, the most exciting as we had no idea what adventures awaited us.

Our first zodiac ride of the expedition. One of many, but in some ways, the most exciting as we had no idea what adventures awaited us.

As we headed down river towards our ship, we began to notice camps dotted across the landscape. One of our northern students said that families were out on the land now, hunting and camping.

Temporary camps along the river

Camps along the river

Many of these temporary camps consist of canvas tents

Many of these are temporary camps with canvas tents

 

As we sped downriver, the outline of our ship came into view. And as we got closer, it’s size and magnificence became apparent. It was hard to believe this would be home for the next 11 days! There was definitely a palpable excitement in the air as the zodiacs circled, waiting their turn to tie up to the ship’s platform and step aboard.

Arriving at our new  floating home, the Sea Adventurer

Arriving at our new floating home, the Sea Adventurer

The Sea Adventurer, is a 100 m long ship with an A-1 ice class rating. So technically, it’s not an icebreaker, but its reinforced hull can find its way through plenty of  ‘bergy bits’ that often litter the waters of the northern Labrador coastline in July.

Total excitement as we are greeted by those already on the Sea Adventurer

Total excitement as we are greeted by those already on the Sea Adventurer

Welcome aboard!

Welcome aboard!

The Sea Adventurer, with 10 zodiacs that allowed us to get to shore to explore

The Sea Adventurer, with 10 zodiacs that allowed us to get to shore to explore

The Sea Adventurer staff had already kindly installed all of our luggage in our cabins by the time we arrived. Our cabins were tidy, modern and comfortable. Sure, they’re small, but we were just there to sleep (and as we’d find out, grab whatever rare nap-time could be stolen during our busy days).

Our two person cabin. Very comfortable and a great sized window for iceberg watching.

Our two person cabin. Very comfortable and a great sized window for iceberg watching.

I remember on Day 1 of our adventure, during our introduction, Geoff Green was describing the Sea Adventurer. His comment was that this ship is far, far too nice for us on us. Ya, sure. 😉 It wasn’t until I began to explore around the ship and came upon the dinning room that I understood what Geoff meant. Just peeking into the dinning room, I felt as if I should have brought my evening gown on this arctic expedition! Note to self for next time – don’t just pack the rubber boots and blackfly jacket, include evening wear as well. 😉

Our ship's dinning room - not what I expected on an arctic expedition, but hey, I'm not complaining! ;)

Our ship’s dinning room – not what I expected on an arctic expedition, but hey, I’m not complaining! 😉

But it gets better. Not only is the dinning room fancy-schmancy, but all of the serving staff were wearing tuxes. And they were the most incredibly friendly people. By the end of the expedition, we’d all become friends. And… we certainly didn’t starve during our expedition. How could one starve while eating 5-course meals for dinner, for 12 days? Seriously! They fed us 5 course meals for dinner! Breakfast and lunch were buffets. And all I can say is that the food was phenomenal! I normally don’t eat dessert, but I did for these 12 days! Although I just couldn’t bring myself to eat the delicate pastry that was shaped like a swan. Seriously, it was ‘pastry origami’! Talk about roughing it on our arctic expedition. 😉

I didn't think you'd believe me about the 5 course meals, so here's the menu from lunch

I didn’t think you’d believe me about the 5 course meals, so here’s the menu from lunch

And…. the menu from dinner one night… some evenings we ate fresh arctic char that members of our expedition had caught that day.

And dinner. Oh... how we suffered! ;)

And dinner. Oh… how we suffered! 😉

Here's more of how we suffered. Dessert one night. I think it was a blueberry cheesecake, but I can't remember because my head is still swirling with delight. Oh so many desserts...

Here’s more of how we suffered. Dessert one night. I think it was a blueberry cheesecake, but I can’t remember because my head is still swirling with delight. Oh so many desserts…

After dinner, I wandered up on deck with my camera, soaking in the fresh evening air as we made our way through Ungava Bay. The land disappeared and the open water lay before us. As the sun began to sink in the sky, many of us took some time on deck to jus have some quiet time to ourselves, to reflect on all that had happened up to this point and what our next 11 days would be like.

Time to reflect as we leave head out of Ungava Bay

Time to reflect as we leave head out of Ungava Bay

Watching land disappear...

Watching land disappear…

And the sun sink low in the sky. It never got completely dark because we were so far north. But we were treated to some of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen.

And the sun sink low in the sky. It never got completely dark because we were so far north. But we were treated to some of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen.

This is how our days ended. Falling into bed, tired from the days activities. But what more could you ask for... arriving in your cabin to find your bed turned down and a mint sitting there.

This is how our days ended. Falling into bed, tired from the days activities. But what more could you ask for… arriving in your cabin to find your bed turned down and a mint sitting there.

Our floating home, the Sea Adventurer, was INCREDIBLE. All of the staff were more than outstanding. So friendly, courteous, the food was out of this world. The cabins so comfortable. We all complained when we got home that our beds at home seemed not to be nearly so comfortable as those on the ship. Our captain was phenomenal. You’ll hear more about him later and how he’s given us the adventure of a lifetime.

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Tune in  next time for the first BIG day of our adventure, exploring the beauty of the Labrador coastline…

What an INCREDIBLE expedition!!!!!

The view from the bow of our ship, the Sea Adventurer, as we made our way up the SW coast of Greenland and crossed the arctic circle about 4am. Image copyright Shelley L. Ball.

The view from the bow of our ship, the Sea Adventurer, as we made our way up the SW coast of Greenland and crossed the arctic circle about 4am. Image copyright Shelley L. Ball.

Hi Everyone! I’m just back from our Arctic Expedition 2014! I arrived home about 36 hours ago after an absolute whirlwind expedition. I can’t wait to share it all with you! I’ve had experiences that I will never forget, met the most incredible people, seen crumbling glaciers with my own eyes. And I’ve done my best to capture all of this in my photographs so that I can share with you the story of my expedition.

Exploring Labrador through several zodiac outings. What a great way to explore the landscape, to see wildlife, and to experience our surroundings with all of our senses... Image copyright Shelley L. Ball

Exploring Labrador through several zodiac outings. What a great way to explore the landscape, to see wildlife, and to experience our surroundings with all of our senses… Image copyright Shelley L. Ball

I’ll be blogging about the highlights of our adventure – the things that really stuck with me and that I want to share with you. Being on an icebreaker with 131 high school students, educators, and support staff was nothing short of a remarkable experience. The expedition, led by Students On Ice, was truly a life-changing experience, not just for the 86 students on board, but for all of us.

Image copyright Shelley L. Ball

Image copyright Shelley L. Ball

Here are a few images to share with you some of the incredible things we experienced. There’s LOTS more to come to keep tuning in. Or even better, subscribe to this blog so that when I post more about our adventure, you’ll get notification of it.

I can’t wait to share my stories with you…

Image copyright Shelley L. Ball

Image copyright Shelley L. Ball

 

An inukshuk atop the rocky shoreline at Kuujjuaq, Ungava Bay, Quebec. This was where we began our northern journey. Image copyright Shelley L. Ball.

An inukshuk atop the rocky shoreline at Kuujjuaq, Ungava Bay, Quebec. This was where we began our northern journey. Image copyright Shelley L. Ball.

Arctic Expedition 2014: gear, gear, and more gear!

With just 11 days left until we begin our adventure to the arctic, I’m madly gathering together the last of the gear that I’ll need to take. I’m making lists because it’s impossible to remember everything. Brain overload.

With teaching environmental communication through photography and videography, most of my gear is for this. Cameras, lenses, batteries, tripods. We’ll be on an icebreaker of European origin. It has 220V power outlets so I also have to bring a step-down transformer since I’ve got a gazillion batteries to keep charged. I’ve also been warned to bring a good surge protector. Done.

Here’s a smattering of gear that I’ll be using for teaching the students how to shoot video. For good video shooting, you absolutely need to keep the camera either still or moving fluidly. There’s nothing worse than watching video where the camera has been swaying from side to side. Great way to get motion sick. 🙂

Two rigs for stabilization that I’m taking are a Glidecam DNA 1000 camera stabilizer. And a shoulder rig stabilizer. The Glidecam will allow us to shoot video while we’re walking or running, but without the bumping up and down to make us motion sick while we’re watching the video footage. The shoulder rig will help us keep the camera steady and is also great for panning.

If you’re shooting video, you also need to record good audio. The built-in mic on my Nikon D7100 is ok, but not great and you just don’t have as much easy control over recording volume as with an external recorder. So I’ve got a Tascam DR-05 for audio recording. And to plug into it, a Rode Videomic with a dead cat (that’s the name of the fuzzy cover that goes over the microphone to prevent that annoying sound when the wind sweeps across the mic. I know… I didn’t name it. That’s just what it’s called 🙂 ). I’ve also got a boom pole for the videomic and a lav mic (lapel microphone) for interviews.

Here’s a look at some of the video gear I’ll be taking…

Some of the video gear I'll be taking with me to the arctic. From left to right - Rode video microphone, Glidecam camera stabilizer, Varavon multi-finder viewfinder, shoulder video rig stabilizer.

Some of the video gear I’ll be taking with me to the arctic. From left to right – Rode video microphone, Glidecam camera stabilizer, Varavon multi-finder viewfinder, shoulder video rig stabilizer.

This is just a small bit of all of the gear I’ll be taking. That’s why I’ll have two big lockage plastic cases on wheels, as well as a duffle bag of clothes and my tripods, as well as my carry on camera gear. Here’s hoping my back holds out! :0

Arctic Expedition 2014: Visual Storytelling – the power of photography…

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My role on this Students On Ice arctic expedition is one of educator. All of us who will fill that role will also contribute to the success of the expedition in other ways, helping with many aspects of daily activities and logistics. But as educators, our primary role is to deliver outstanding educational workshops and activities for the students.

I will be teaching environmental communication. You’re probably thinking, what the heck is that?  Environmental communication uses tools such as photography and video to inform ands to connect with the general public on environmental issues. Our planet faces a number of significant environmental issues such as climate change, habitat loss, species extinction, pollution (including plastic pollution in our oceans), ocean acidification and the dying-off of coral reefs. These are just some of the major issues facing us today.

Plastic garbage that has made its way into the world oceans is responsible for the death of albatross chicks in a colony on Midway Island.

Plastic garbage that has made its way into the world oceans is responsible for the death of albatross chicks in a colony on Midway Island. Image copyright Shelley L. Ball, 44th Parallel Photography

The problem is that if people don’t feel like their daily lives are affected by these issues, then they don’t believe they exist. It’s just the way the human brain works – it’s that ‘out of sight, out of mind’ thing. But no matter where in the world we live, our lives are affected by these things. It’s just that for some things, the impacts are less obvious for some of the world’s population, compared to others. Or we experience the indirect or trickle-down effects of these things rather than the direct impacts, at least for now. Or the impacts happen so far from us (geographically) that we don’t see them and so they don’t get our attention. A good example of this is the melting of the world’s glaciers and the impact this will have on global sea level and other aspects of our environment. If we don’t see it happening in our own neighbourhood, then we tend not to think about it.

This is where environmental communication comes in and specifically, photography and videography. You’ve heard the expression, ‘ a picture is worth a thousand words’?  As humans, we rely on vision to understand the world around us. This is why photographs can have such impact. When we see something with our own eyes, we are more likely to understand it, to believe it, to relate to it. And some images can even evoke strong emotional responses in us. Strong images can make us care.

It’s this emotional response that is important. Without it, people tune out. They forget about things. But have you ever seen a photo that made you cry? I bet the impact of that photo stayed with you for a few days, if not for months or years or even a lifetime. Images have the power to impact us in that way.

The cover of National Geographic's 125th anniversary edition. Their features on The Power Of Photography are a fabulous example of how photography can inform us, connect us, inspire us and motivate us to take action on environmental and social issues.

The cover of National Geographic’s 125th anniversary edition. Their features on The Power Of Photography are a fabulous example of how photography can inform us, connect us, inspire us and motivate us to take action on environmental and social issues.

I believe that visual images can play a huge role in helping us to understand the impacts of our planet’s environmental issues and the urgent need to take action to halt these impacts. For over 125 years, National Geographic has been doing this – using photography to take us to parts of the globe we have never been before (or may never visit) . They inform us about environmental and social issues in places far from us. Their goal is to motivate us to care enough to do something about these issues. And now that we are in the digital age, National Geographic publishes their magazine digitally (for iPad). We no longer just ‘read’ NatGeo magazine, we experience it. This include video clips, 3D animations, and interactive tools to ‘read’ a story. You just need to look at the October 2013 digital edition of National Geographic magazine to understand the impact photography (and video) can have on informing people about global issues, getting them to care, and getting them to take action.

Copyright France Rivet, Polar Horizons. Used with permission.

Copyright France Rivet, Polar Horizons. Used with permission.

This is why I’m teaching environmental communication on this arctic expedition. I think photography and videography are tools that are critical to addressing the planet’s environmental issues. And who better to use these than the younger generation – the one that will spend the bulk of their lives dealing with the environmental issues that currently face our planet. I’ll be teaching them how to shoot photographs with impact. How to shoot and edit video and to produce their own short documentary-style videos. And I hope they will become ambassadors of the environment – visual storytellers for the environment – sharing their experiences and their messages about the arctic – its wildlife, its landscapes, its people and the rapid changes the arctic is experiencing as a result of global climate change. This is why I have named my program, the Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program. I hope that the students will share the stories of their first-hand experiences not just with their family, their friends and their peers. I hope they will share them with the world. I hope my program inspires them to take action on our planet’s environmental issues and that they inspire others to do the same.

Arctic Expedition 2014: our environmental education program

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I’m so excited to be one of 46 educators and staff on the 2014 Students On Ice arctic expedition. Those of us who are educators will be delivering educational program to the students during our 12 days aboard the icebreaker, while we explore Labrador and Greenland. We’ll have zodiacs to get ashore so that we can get out onto the land and show the students first hand, the incredible beauty, fragility, and value of the arctic.

In my role as biologist, environmental educator and visual storyteller, I’ll be launching our Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program, teaching photography and videography to students. Specifically, I’ll be teaching the students the tools of environmental communication. They will be learning to use their cameras to capture the beauty of the arctic landscape, ecosystems, culture and history. And then they’ll learn how to assemble their photos and videos to create professional presentations about the arctic environment that they can share with their schools, clubs and the world.

So I’m busy creating a series of educational workshops that I’ll be teaching and still assembling the equipment I need. Busy times! But I can’t wait to get aboard that ship and begin working with the students. I think it’ll be an experience of a lifetime not just for them, but for me too!

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Arctic Expedition 2014: our expedition route

"Not all those who wander are lost..."

“Not all those who wander are lost…”

Our adventure will begin in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where 86 high school students and 46 educators and staff will meet for a few days of orientation and getting to know each other. After touring around our Nation’s capital  and enjoying our introductions, we’ll hop on a charter flight headed to Kuujjuaq, in northern Quebec. Kuujjuaq is on the coast of Ungava Bay and this is where we will board our icebreaker for our 11 day adventure. The map below shows our planned expedition route although that’s subject to change depending on weather and a whole lot of other factors. But that’s half the adventure, wondering what’s going to happen next!

Our planned expedition route that will take us to the coast of Labrador and Greenland.

Our planned expedition route that will take us to the coast of Labrador and Greenland.

Below is an outline of our itinerary. For more details, visit the Students On Ice expedition website:

July 9 – students and staff meet in Ottawa for orientation and introductions and team building exercises

July 12 – fly to Kuujjuag to board our icebreaker

July 13 – Explore Button Islands, Nunavut

July 14 – Arrive in Torngat Mountains National Park

July 15 – Saglek Fiord, Torngat Base Camp & Research Station

July 16 – explore Naffak Brook & Rose Island as well as experience a polar dip in the icy arctic waters

July 17 – Crossing the Davis Straight to Greenland

July 18 – A visit to the town of Nanortalik, Greenland

July 19 – exploring Tasermiut / Prins Christian Sund Fiords 

July 20 – exploring the area and wildlife of the Paamiut Area, Arsuk

July 21 – exploring Nuuk, Greenland’s capital and oldest city

July 22 – exploring the fjords of Kangerlussuatsiaq Evighedsfjorden

July 23 – time to head back to Ottawa from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

July 24 – Our end-of-expedition celebration in Ottawa

It’s an absolutely packed itinerary that promises plenty of adventure. I really look forward to sharing my adventures with you through photos and stories on  my blog posts. So keep checking back here for updates. And to get a better idea of what the expedition is like, click HERE to see an overview of the Students On Ice 2013 arctic expedition.

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Arctic Bound in 27 days!

Hey Everybody!

It’s been quiet here on the blog, sorry about that! It’s because I’ve been working 24/7 to prepare for the launch of our Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program on the upcoming Students On Ice arctic expedition. And we  begin our phenomenal adventure in only 27 days. Woweee! Still a TON of things to get done before the adventure begins, but I’m loving every minute of the preparation. Life sure is exciting!

With only 27 days until we leave for the arctic, the countdown begins. And so now I’ll posting here on the blog to let you know what’s happening. There is just SO much to share with you! The excitement is palpable! I wish I could take you all with  me. But the next closest thing is to share my journey with you through this blog and our Facebook page. So I hope you’ll tune in here regularly to see what’s happening.

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From now until the start of our incredible adventure on July 9th, I’ll be making daily posts here on the blog, so that you can enjoy this adventure with me. I’m hoping that I might be able to share the odd blog post while I’m  knee-deep in adventure, but we’ll be on an icebreaker in the arctic for two weeks, with very limited ability to communicate. As you may know, communication via satellite phone is really expensive. But I’m hoping to send out a few really brief updates. Otherwise, I’ll be posting like crazy as soon as I’m back. I’ll be just bursting to share my stories of adventure with you! I hope I’ll have a gazillion photos to share with you, some video clips, and so many great stories…

For now, I want to introduce you to our expedition. The expedition is being provided by Students On Ice. I’ll be one of 46 educators and staff who will be helping to provide 86 high school students (primarily from Canada and the U.S., but also from other parts of the world) with the adventure of a lifetime! We’ll be immersing them in everything arctic. There will be a focus on the environment, given that the arctic is change SO rapidly, due to global climate change and other factors. But that’s just a part of the experience. Students will learn about the arctic past, present and future. So they’ll learn about arctic history, culture, art, music, ecology, environmental change, politics, policy, geology, glaciology, and so much more!

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To begin our countdown, I wanted to share with you the first postings on the Students On Ice 2014 Arctic Adventure website. It describes the route of our expedition – flying from Ottawa, Ontario to Kujjuaq, in northern Quebec. There, we will board the icebreaker which will take us to the coast of Labrador, to discover the Torngat Mountains National Park, where we’ll spend the first half of our adventure. The second half of the adventure will be spent exploring the southwest coast of Greenland, including some incredible fjords that are virtually unexplored.

To meet the team of educators and staff who will be helping to provide students with a life-changing experience, click HERE.

I hope you’ll tune in daily to see what’s new and exciting as we approach July 9th, the beginning of our arctic expedition, the launch of the Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program, and an experience of a lifetime!

We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave us a comment or question.

Yours in adventure,

Shelley

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A very big THANK YOU!

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Our Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to raise funds to help cover the costs of launching our Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program has ended and I want to convey a very, very big and heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed to our campaign with a donation. Regardless of the size of the donation, every one of them matters to us. And so we are grateful to each and every one of you for your support.

We didn’t reach our original goal which we knew was a really, really lofty one. But we put Plan B in place. And thanks to your support, with the money we raised, I (Shelley) will be on the arctic expedition this July, delivering our very first Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program.

I’ll be posting news about the upcoming expedition on my Biosphere Environmental Education website and here, on my Biosphere Blog. So be sure to tune in to see what’s happening. And when the expedition happens, I’ll be posting photos and stories about the adventure here on the blog.

In the meantime, I’ll be busy designing the details of the YEAP education modules as well as gathering needed equipment and getting lots of hours on my remote controlled quadcopter and rock crawler so that I’ll be ready to capture great video with them on the expedition.

We still have equipment we’ll need (SD and micro-SD cards for cameras, extra batteries, external microphone, to name a few) and so we’ll continue to fundraise until the expedition launch. We’ll be setting up a donate button on the Biosphere website. So be sure to pass on our info to people you know who would like to support such a great educational and environmental project. As always, we are SO grateful for all support we get!

Thanks again to everyone for their generous support.

All the best,

Shelley

A new age for wildlife and environmental photography

We’ve been busy running our crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo – raising money to fund our first ever Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program or YEAP which we’ll launch in the arctic this summer. So what’s a YEAP? Glad you asked… 🙂

The YEAP, our environmental program, is unique. It’s an environmental education program, but it’s different from the rest. How? Well, the core of our program is that we teach kids how to use photography and videography to create environmental messages. We will actually be teaching kids the technical and creative aspects of photo and video and helping them take incredible images of some of the most spectacular places on earth. And then we’ll teach them how to put together stunning visual presentations about those spectacular places as well as what the human impacts are on them – what we, as humankind, have to lose if we lose these places. Kids will give these presentations not just to their schools back home, but to as many schools in their region as possible. So they won’t just reach out to 600 students, they’ll reach out to 6,000 students or more.

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As a teacher, one thing I think is REALLY important is to fully engage students in learning. It isn’t about just going through the motions. It’s about having students say, “Wow! THAT is SO cool!”. It’s about exposing them to things that they have never seen before, sometimes things they have never even thought about before. To me, this is where the real learning happens.

Engaging students fully in a learning experience isn’t always easy. But I think we live in a techy world with a lot of amazing new tools at our disposal. And well, the younger generations have grown up with technology and want to use it. They expect it. And so, with our youth education program, we’re using new ways to engage students, to teach them the tools of photography, videography and communication.

Here’s a fun way we’re going to do it. A few days ago on our Indiegogo campaign website, I posted a video showing some of the fun, high-tech ‘toys’ that we’ll use for our photography and videography. If you haven’t see our video, click HERE to have a look. We have a remote controlled quadcopter and a remote controlled rock crawler that we’ll be attaching Go Pro cameras to, to remotely record photos and video. And we’re hoping that next year we’ll be adding a mini-submarine into the mix!

Meet Wallee. He's a remote controlled rock crawler that we can attach a Go Pro or a dSLR camera to.

Meet Wallee. He’s a remote controlled rock crawler that we can attach a Go Pro or a dSLR camera to.

 

Here's Wallee with a small action camera attached. We'll be getting GoPro's to attach because with the live view we can not only see what we're recording and photographing, we can see where we're going. :o)

Here’s Wallee with a small action camera attached. We’ll be getting GoPro’s to attach because with the live view we can not only see what we’re recording and photographing, we can see where we’re going. :o)

Have a look at my video on Youtube. It shows the tools we’ll be using. But I want you to see the kinds of videos and images one can get using these high-tech tools. Here’s an example – a short video produced by Firefight Films. It shows incredible footage from above and below “ground” in Alaskan Ice Caves. The film, called “Bigger Than Life” was shot with a GoPro HERO 3 Black attached to a DJI Phantom quadcopter – the same camera that I’ll be using. And the quadcopter they used is very, very similar to my Walkera QR x 350.

 

Bigger Than LIfe SS

Meet Hal. Hal is a Walkera QR x350 quadcopter. He's got a GoPro camera mount on his 'belly'. This will be great for aerial shots.

Meet Hal. Hal is my Walkera QR x350 quadcopter. He’s got a GoPro camera mount on his ‘belly’. This will be great for aerial shots.

Have a look at what we can do using some innovation and technology to create that WOW-factor  when telling our stories about the environment.

If you love the idea of getting kids to use these kinds of tools to create messages about the environment and lessening the human impacts on it, click HERE to donate to our Indiegogo campaign. It finishes on April 9th and we still need your dollars to help us ensure I can be on the arctic expedition teaching kids about environmental education and using these high-tech tools to do the job.