Arctic Expedition 2014 – some experiences just change your life forever…

Getting out in zodiacs to explore was one of the huge highlights of the trip for me. I love that the students (and staff) got to see, smell, taste, touch, hear - to experience the north with all of their senses. (photo copyright Shelley L. Ball)

Getting out in zodiacs to explore was one of the huge highlights of the trip for me. I love that the students (and staff) got to see, smell, taste, touch, hear – to experience the north with all of their senses. (photo copyright Shelley L. Ball)

A few days ago I returned from the trip of a lifetime. No, not a trip of a lifetime. An experience of a lifetime. I was an educator (biologist, photographer, and environmental communicator) on the 2014 Students On Ice Arctic Expedition. I, along with 45 other educators and support staff and 86 high school students from Canada, the U.S., Scotland, China, Monaco, and Greenland, spent 12 days together on an icebreaker, exploring the arctic – northern Quebec, the coast of Labrador (including the absolutely spectacular Torngat Mountains National Park), and then southwest Greenland.

The incredible rugged beauty of the Labrador coast near Torngats Mountain National Park. (photo copyright Shelley L. Ball)

The incredible rugged beauty of the Labrador coast near Torngats Mountain National Park. (photo copyright Shelley L. Ball)

It was 12 of the most spectacular, action-packed, eye-opening, inspiring days of my life. And for those 86 high school students on board, it changed their lives. For some, profoundly. In subsequent blog posts, I’ll share some of those stories. In my 20+ years as an educator, I have never seen such transformations in young people in such a short time. It may sound corny, but what I witnessed on that ship in those 12 days renewed my hope in humanity. There are truly good people out there who will do good things, not just for themselves, but for our entire global community. I have no doubt that some of those 86 students on our expedition will be the ones to go on to do great things – big things –  for our world. But also small things too. I think it’s important to be reminded that big isn’t the supreme goal. We can all do something good for our world, in our own ways, no matter how small. So I believe that all of the 86 students on this expedition will have an important influence on the world, in one way or another. Every effort, every action matters, regardless of magnitude.

Me, teaching a photography workshop on shore. I wanted to inspire the students to use their images to share their experiences with the world and to share their concerns about the health of the arctic environment and its cultures, with the rest of the world.

Me, teaching a photography workshop on shore. I wanted to inspire the students to use their images to share their experiences with the world and to share their concerns about the health of the arctic environment and its cultures, with the rest of the world. (photo copyright Lee Naraway).

If I had to sum up the achievements and milestones of the expedition, it would be difficult, because there were so many. We learned about the arctic environment – plants, animals, geology, ocean currents…. We learned about the peoples of the arctic – their culture, history, and some of the tragic stories of contemporary times, when Inuit were forced by the government to leave their homes, their communities, to live elsewhere, and to adopt ‘southern’ ways of life. This was all part of the governments strategy, decades ago, to assimilate our northern peoples into ‘southern’ ways of life. We learned about climate change. We learned about the geo-politics of the north. From early in the morning until late at night, we were busy – outside exploring on the land, exploring the shoreline by zodiac, participating in workshops on board our ship, listening to presentations given by educators, hearing ‘life stories’ that inspired us. There were so many great things we experienced and that resulted from this expedition. But I would have to say that watching the students stretch – to muster up the courage to step outside of their comfort zones in order to experience life to the  fullest and to connect with the people in our group, was by far, the most incredible result of our experience. For me, it did a lot to reinforce my desire to follow my passion – to take youth around the world on life-changing expeditions that will teach them about themselves, help them reach beyond their limitations, to show them some of the earth’s most incredible places, and to inspire them to preserve them and the cultures of the people who live in them. This is my dream. And now, more than ever, I’m determined to make it happen.

Our arctic sunsets were some of the most spectacular I have ever seen. (photo copyright Shelley L. Ball).

Our arctic sunsets were some of the most spectacular I have ever seen. (photo copyright Shelley L. Ball).

 

Over the next several days, I’ll be blogging about my experience on this Arctic Expedition 2014. I want to share with you the things we saw, the things we learned, the experiences we had, the insights we had, and the stories that developed over our 15 days together (12 of which were onboard the Sea Adventurer, our floating home).

I hope you’ll come back to read more. And please pass the link to this blog to anyway you think would enjoying reading it. Thanks!

Shelley

Me, aboard the Sea Adventurer, with a massie glacier in the background. Our wonderful ship's captain took us down some of the most incredible fjords in Greenland.

Me, aboard the Sea Adventurer, with a massie glacier in the background. Our wonderful ship’s captain took us down some of the most incredible fjords in Greenland.

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

Our crowd funding campaign – update

Hi Folks,

Our crowd funding campaign to raise the funds to launch our Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program (YEAP) in the arctic this summer is progressing nicely, but we still have a long way to go. We’re hovering around the $2,000 mark, but we need to raise $25,000. We have 31 days left to reach our goal.

Your support is VERY important to us! We need it to get myself and my co-teacher, Angela, on the arctic expedition with Students On Ice, to run our first every YEAP. We really want to make a difference – inspire a generation of change. A generation that values the environment and sees people and the planet as just as important as profits. It is possible to live sustainably. But it will take the next generation to get us there. So please supporting our crowd funding campaign by clicking HERE.

It takes just three mouse clicks to donate:

1. Go to our campaign webpage.

2. Look at the donation levels and PERKS on the right hand side of the page and choose the one that you are most comfortable with. Remember, every donation gets a thank you gift – ranging from an e-postcard to a limited edition signed fine art print. Once you’ve found the donation level you like, click on it and it will take you to a secure payment page where you can choose to pay by credit card or Paypal.

3. Once you’ve entered in your details, just click to confirm your payment and you’re done! And, you’re just supported an entire generation with your donation.

Remember that your donation isn’t just for this expedition. By supporting this inaugural run of the YEAP in the arctic this summer, we’ll have the experiences, stories, and photos we need to then to funding pitches to the corporate world. Our goal is to obtain a significant amount of corporate funding to further develop the YEAP. We would like our second YEAP to be on an expedition to Antarctica! And after that, the world is our oyster. We’ll be taking high school kids all over the world, to see the earth’s natural environments – see their beauty, their value, record those things in their photos and videos, and then create stunning visual presentations of their experiences to share with the world. This is where students become Environmental Ambassadors – using their own photos and video to share with the world, their messages of why and how we need to make the changes necessary to live sustainably. It is possible! We just need your support to get things rolling.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE YEAP ARCTIC 2014 EXPEDITION

Thank you for your support,

Shelley & Angela

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