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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How YOU can help change the world

As you may know, from following the posts on my blog, I’ve been completely ensconced in a crowd funding campaign for the past 5 weeks. I’m raising funds to help defer the cost of an arctic expedition this July. Vacation? Nope.  Education.

As a biologist, the environment is really important to me. I don’t have kids and so I could say, “who cares, I don’t have kids, I don’t have to worry about what the next generation will have to deal with”, but that’s just not me. I don’t roll that way. I think everyone has a certain responsibility to the next generation, and the generation after that, and… Let’s face it, it’s my generation, my parents generation, my grandparents generation and to an extent, my great-grandparents generation that has screwed up the environment so badly. Don’t you think we owe it to the next generation to mop up some of the mess we created?

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The past 5 weeks has been revealing for me. I knew it would be a hard, hard slog raising the funds. My campaign is in the education section of the Indiegogo crowd funding website. Strike number one. I know this sounds pathetic, but the vast majority of people who would even consider donating to a crowd funding project don’t give a rats furry bottom about projects in the education or environment section. I’m not trying to be rude. That’s just the way it is. If you have a cool electronic gizmo to develop and sell, you’re golden. Tons of donations come in if you have a half decent campaign. But education and environment have typically been poorly supported. But why? I’m an optimist and a realist, but my experience with crowd funding has allowed a shade of pessimism to creep in. The sad truth is that not many people truly care about the environment or about education. They say they do, but when it comes right down to it, most people would much sooner have a way-cool, cutting age piece of electronics in their pocket, rather than build a school in Africa or support something that helps the environment. And to me, that is really sad.

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Yes, there are people out there who think education and the environment are important – thank goodness. And I am SO grateful for those people, regardless of whether they supported my funding campaign with a donation or someone else’s funding campaign. The fact that people care, matters to me a lot. But I still can’t get that bad taste out of my mouth about the lack of support or caring from the general public, about the environment or education. That just has to change if we’re to have future generations that don’t live in a cesspool.

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As a scientists, I do believe that the earth has not yet reached her tipping point. I do believe that we can reverse a lot of the nasty things that we have done to the environment. And I do believe that it is possible for humans to live sustainably. But that means change. And let’s face it, most people hate change! I personally, thrive on it, but I know I’m a rarity. Most people despise change. They like things just the way they are. And so asking people to give something up, to change some aspect of their lifestyle to better the planet, is frankly, asking too much, it seems. At least for my generation. Frankly, I put my money on the next generation. They are the ones with their whole lives ahead. They are the ones that may have to live in the cesspool we leave for them. So they have to care. If they don’t, their lives will be a whole lot less pleasant than mine, or my parent’s, or my grandparent’s for that matter. And I hate that thought. It’s just downright wrong! But how do we get people to care?

I think I have a solution, well, actually, a small step toward a solution. And that’s why I’m fundraising. And it’s why I’m putting $8,000 of my own money (I hear retirement’s way over-rated anyway….) into paying my own way on an arctic expedition. Why? Some people think I’m nuts doing this. After all, I’m not getting paid to run my Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program on an arctic expedition. It’s purely volunteer. And I have to use my precious 2 weeks of annual vacation leave from work for it. But I choose to. Why? Because I care. Because I think each and every one of us, in some way or another, has to dosomething to reverse the damage our lifestyles have done to the planet.

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Will I change the entire world with my program? Nope. But change happens one student at a time. Real change happens slowly. And my goal is simply to open up some eyes and some minds, make the students think, and then hand the reins over to them to let them decide what they will and won’t do to make the planet a better place. After all, if I’m lucky, I’ve got 30 or so good years of life left. But the next generation will have to live with the mess a whole lot longer. I wish they didn’t have a mess to clean up. But I’m happy to do my part to try to help and to make amends for my impacts on the environment. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not up on a soapbox. I drive a car. I burn wood in my fireplace. I use Propane to heat my house. My life does have an impact on the environment. I do what I can to lessen it. But society as a whole, has to change. And if I can convince part of society to think about changing the way they live and help them to convince others to do the same, then that will be worth everything that I’m putting into this program.

If you believe that we can and should make the world a better place and you have a few bucks to spare, I would love it if you could make a donation to our Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program. There are only 3 days left in our funding campaign. I’ve revised our goal, from $25,000 (for both me and my co-teacher to go on the expedition) to just me going and me contributing $8,000 of my own retirement money. If you can help get us to our revised goal of $4,500 (we’re less than $1,000 away from it), I would be immensely grateful to you. Donate by clicking on the link below.

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