I'm getting more and more excited about this upcoming trip to Alaska in early April. And I'm really looking forward to meeting the entire team and learning a bit about their experiences, interests, and why they too are excited about this adventure. I'm also interested in the same from the students (Sea Cadets and Naval Academy) who are joining this expedition as student perspectives never fail to impress me or open my mind to think about things differently.
Meeting with two PolarTREC alumni teachers last night, Andre Wille and Susy Ellison, my excitement increased. Listening to their stories of travelling to the Arctic and Antarctic, working with research teams, studying unique pieces of these places, adventures in camping in tents (in the Antarctic summer), and sharing their experience with learners in various contexts was inspiring and fun to hear about. Susy still visits schools on Antarctica Day to teach about polar topics. She also has figured out to get Antarctica cruise ship naturalist gigs. I think she has figured how to make the most of being a retired teacher.
I have never been to Alaska, let alone the Arctic. I have traveled all over the lower 48, but not much internationally. Being landlocked in the center of the country (Missouri as a kid, and Colorado as an adult), oceans are not my expertise. Yet every chance I have ever had to go to the ocean (I can count on 2 hands), I have taken the opportunity. This expedition is an opportunity to go to another ocean; now I’ll be able to say I’ve been to three oceans – that’s pretty cool!
Today I got word from John Woods, the logistics lead, that we have a solid diverse team and dates set for our April expedition; the Utqiaġvik Buoy Exercise 2020 for The International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP)
December 23 – “Hello…, yes I’m sitting on a plane in Dallas. Just landed. Turned on my smartphone and it immediately began ringing. I’m excited to talk to you...”
Although I was sitting on a completely full plane of Christmas travelers, I chose to answer as it was a number from Alaska I had seen a couple weeks prior and was excited to hear from them. Yet it was curious if Santa was calling me from the North Pole?
It was a call to invite me to participate in a 2020 PolarTREC expedition in the coming months. I was selected from over 200 applicants through a rigorous application and interview process to join Arctic researchers from the U.S. Navy and University of Washington who work on the International Arctic Buoy Programme. An opportunity of a lifetime, to go to the Arctic with a science research team. They even mentioned during the interview the possibility of going to the North Pole! I accepted even though it means missing my grandmother’s 100th birthday during the same week of April.