Hi, this Emily from National Geographic Kid’s first expedition to the Galapagos Islands back in 2006! At the beginning of the expedition, I was a curious nine year old in third grade, but at the end of the expedition I was an inspired, audacious, bold, confident and differentiated nine year old in third grade. Needless to say, my experience with the National Geographic crew in the Galapagos Islands greatly affected my perspective on conservation as well as my outlook on the future and what I would like to become. One interest in particular that the Galapagos trip sparked was my interest in marine biology. Before the expedition, I had no memorable experiences in the ocean to speak of, but after that one time snorkeling in the pristine reef by pinnacle rock, I was awestruck. I had never seen anything so beautiful in nature before and I think that one experience was one that will change the course of my life.
Since then, I’ve recently been to marine biology camp in San Diego, California where I learned more about ocean life, but was inspired to go because of my experience in the Galapagos. I’ve also found myself having more of an appreciation and love for science since the trip which is probably because I was lucky enough to see scientific knowledge being put to use at a young age, unlike many of the people surrounding me. I’ve also spent a day in the field with a herpetologist which, no doubt, taught me a lot, and gave me a more hands-on look at why conservation is important in my own backyard.
One thing that has been keeping my involved with National Geographic are the annual Explorers Symposiums in Washington D.C which my mom and I have been making it a point to attend. I feel extremely privileged to, every year, be able to see, meet and listen to legendary conservationists, activists, and scientists in every field. Every year after the event, I feel a renewed sense of inspiration and love for the earth, the same inspiration that I felt after coming back from the Galapagos. This year’s symposium felt extra special because, although the more famous and legendary explorers are great, I got to meet some emerging explorers with interests that pertained to me even more than usual. One of the speakers and emerging explorers that I really felt a connection to, was Mattias Klum, a Swedish photographer and film-maker. I enjoyed hearing him speak about his job and philosophy because I think my future career may be more along the lines of what he is doing now, and it’s always nice to be able to look up to someone.
Right now, I am looking forward to moving to North Carolina with the knowledge that I’ll be in reachable distance to one of my fellow Galapagos Explorers and hopes that I’ll be closer to the ocean and will have new opportunities to meet people like the ones that I always do at the symposium, which I will undoubtedly continue to attend as long as they happen!