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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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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Help Make This The New Classroom…

This is where education needs to happen. Where kids can see things with their own eyes, touch things with their hands, hear the sounds, smell the scents, and feel the freeze on their face

This is where education needs to happen. Where kids can see things with their own eyes, touch things with their hands, hear the sounds, smell the scents, and feel the freeze on their face

Studies show that students benefit from experiential learning – learning done outside, beyond the confines of four walls. It is learning that is hands. And involves all the senses.

Take it from someone who struggled all the way through primary school. Not all kids learn the same way. It look me a long time to figure out the learning style that suited me. But once I did, I started to enjoy school, do well, and went on to do a PhD in biology and become a university professor.

My own experiences have had a big influence on my role as a teacher. And it is because of this and my passion for our planet’s natural environments that led me to shift my focus to experiential learning. My own experiences through my post-secondary schooling have taken me to amazing places – the subarctic of Churchill, Manitoba, the dessert southwest of the United States, the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the tropical forests of Central America, and the rich coastal habitats of New Zealand. Those experiences changed my life. They connected me with nature. They showed me different cultures. They showed me the beauty of nature and its value in our lives. And all of that made me want to preserve all of those incredible places I visited.

It is my passion for biology and my experiences of visiting these incredible natural places on earth that were the motivation for me to create the Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program. It is a program focused on two things. One, connecting youth with nature. Getting them outside, to some incredible places on our planet, to see things that most people would never see. Two, to nurture that connection to the point that youth care about the environment, enough to want to preserve it. Frankly, their future depends on it. We currently do not live sustainably. Human impacts on the planet are large. But that can’t continue indefinitely. The next generation will have to find solutions to the problems that my generation, and those before mine, created. Inspiring kids to care and to actually do something is important. And so this is why our program has experiential education at its core. Our aim is to get kids to remote places around the world. Places where they can see nature with fewer human impacts on them that where they live. Places with beauty so stunning that they will want to preserve it.

A unique aspect of our program is that we use photography and videography to teach kids about the environment. We teach them the technical and creative aspects of it. We show them the intricate details of nature. And then we help them learn how to capture that in pixels. We then teach students how to create stunning visual presentations. And when those are ready, we’ll teach them how to present those to anyone who will listen – their schools, their clubs, their communities, but most importantly, their peers. Kids don’t really like learning from adults. And they learn better when they are taught by kids their own age. So that’s what our program strives to do. It turns kids into teachers. It turns kids into environmental ambassadors. Our program helps kids share their own messages of the need for positive environmental change, using their images and video and their words. It empowers them to feel that they actually can do things that will make a difference. These are the kids that will become our next world citizens. Voters and consumers. But also up and coming CEO’s, politicians, teachers, and parents.

Our YEAP mission statement is: to mentor a new generation of leaders, innovators, and world citizens who believe that the long term health of earth’s environments is at least as important as profits and development, and who will guide their generation toward a sustainable way of living.

And that is why we are currently engaged in an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign, trying to raise $25,000 to get me and my co-teacher on an arctic expedition with 80 high school students, to launch our first ever Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program. We have been very fortunate to be collaborating with Students On Ice, an award-winning organization that runs youth expeditions to the arctic and antarctic. We’ve been given the chance to pilot our YEAP on the July 2014 arctic expedition. And so this is why we need your help!

We have 32 days left of our funding campaign. We’ve raised almost $2,000 but that’s a long way from our $25,000 goal. So we need YOUR support. Please visit our crowd funding website and please donate. Pick a donation level that you are comfortable with. There is a thank you gift for your donation, depending on the amount you donate.

In addition to your donation, we also need you to spread the word. The more people we reach, the more donations we’ll get. And each of those donations gets us one step closer to our funding goal and more importantly, to creating a transformational experience for youth, inspiring a generation of positive environmental support.

DONATE BY CLICKING HERE

Thank you for your support.

Shelley

Welcome to the BIOSPHERE Blog

Welcome to the blog for BIOSPHERE Environmental Education!

Our goal is to provide outstanding environmental education programs. What makes our educational programs different from others is that we use photography and videography as a core component of our teaching approach. Students learn the tools of ‘environmental visual communication’ so that they can create their own environmental messages and inspire their peers to create positive environmental change.

We believe that the best education comes through experience. This is why expeditions are a core component of our environmental education program. This approach directly connects people with nature and the physical challenges of outdoor adventure  also allow students to foster a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence.

Our Mission:

To mentor a new generation of leaders, innovators, and world citizens who believe that the long term health of earth’s environments is at least as important as profits and development, and who will guide their generation toward a sustainable way of living.

We hope you’re subscribe to our blog to hear all about our adventures, our successes, and our new programs. We’re just in the process of developing our very first program, the Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program. Click HERE to read more about it. And we hope you’ll spread the word about our program and share our blog widely.

I hope you’ll take the time to read our blog and to leave your comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cheers!

Shelley

Dr. Shelley Ball – biologist, educator, photographer and visual storyteller