Tag archives for Explorers Symposium
Hi, Michaela here, from the Cayman Islands HOEC trip. Just recently National Geographic hosted their 6th annual explorers symposium. I had been looking forward to this since the day I left the Caymans because all of the former winners of HOEC challenges are invited. This means that I could see all my friends. It was a blast! The Symposium was around 6:30, so in the afternoon, some of the Caymans kids, including me, got together and ate lunch. It was so fun to see people! We could not stop talking, catching others up on what had transpired in the last year. Unfortunately, not everyone could make it, and we missed those who were unable to come!
The speakers were incredible! One, a pilot (Barrington Irving), flew around the world when he was 23. In doing so, he became the youngest person to fly solo around Earth and the first African American to do so. Not only that, but he is inspiring children all around the world to do something great. For instance, he challenged a group of kids to build an airplane from scratch. If they were able to do so, then he would fly it. The kids completed it in an extraordinarily small amount of time and he flew it. It really hit him that he was flying a plane made by children when he was taking off, but evidenced by the fact that he is here to tell the story, he survived. He is also building the world’s first flying classroom. He is remolding a plane into a classroom and flying it around the world, landing on all seven continents to teach kids. However, there are three other explorers.
Dr. Enric Sala conducts scientific expeditions in ocean areas around the world as part of his ongoing “Pristine Seas” project. He grew up on the coast of Spain and swam in the Mediterranean as a kid. He watched Nat Geo shows about the ocean and realized that something was wrong. You see, when he went swimming in the Mediterranean, he didn’t see nearly as many fish as the documentaries showed, so he figured that it must be only exotic places that had such a wide variety of life. Eventually, he realized that the Mediterranean should have many different types of life but didn’t, because of overfishing and habitat destruction. So, Enric set out to change that fact. He now travels around the world, crusading for the ocean. Only one percent of the ocean is protected right now, and the nations’ goal is 10% by 2020. To do so, a lot more ocean needs protection. Protected areas of the ocean benefit fisherman who live around the edges of the preserved areas. In about five years, fish in the protected area will have grown so numerous, that they will start to spill over into the surrounding areas. So fishermen get more fish than they would if there was no protected area. But sea life wasn’t the only topic at the Symposium.
Lucy Cooke loves ugly animals. She is the voice for endangered animals that never make it onto posters, like the polar bears, and so are not well known. One frog she told us lives exclusively on the bottom of one lake. Because it breathes through its skin, the skin is very wrinkled, increasing surface area. When it runs out of breath, it preforms push ups, so more water will flow around its skin. Unfortunately, it is endangered because the townspeople around that lake hunt, blend it up, and drink it, thinking pureed frog will make their life better. Lucy goes around, educating people about their wildlife so to protect all animals. Lucy has lots of fun during her travels, doing things like licking poisonous frogs (DON’T TRY THAT AT HOME!), playing with sloths, absorbing different cultures, and protecting animals, no matter how ugly or cute they are.
Dan Buettner was the last explorer. He discussed two of his books: Blue Zones and Thrive. Blue Zones is all about living the longest and secrets from those who have lived the longest. He traveled around the world, finding pockets of people who live a long time. Thrive is kinda like a sequel to Blue Zones; it is all about finding happiness the Blue Zone way. He completed the research in a very similar way to how he completed Blue Zones, he looked for pockets of happy people. One happy place he found was Singapore. In Singapore, there are very strict rules, such as no gum chewing. (Did I hear some gasps?) But every rule has a reason. The reason for this rule is that people were hawking loogies and spitting all over the place, and the government realized that they couldn’t attract business with this happening, thus the law. But even with strict confines, people are very happy. They have a sense of security, because they know that if their children go running down the street to play with neighbors, they will come back for dinner, and a woman can walk along the streets at any time of day and have no fear. If you ask me, I would rather have security and less freedom than loads of freedom and fear. Dan also works at trying to get people happy and living long. He founded a company and one of his clients is the state of Iowa. Dan makes rules that the client can chose to put into practice. At the end of the three year program, if there is significant change in the people, Dan and his company gets paid. One example of a rule is outlawing drive-thrus, so less people would go to fast food, there would be a decline in heart disease, less cars would idle, which would cut down on emissions put into the air.
All of the speakers were very good, and when you talked with them at the reception, they were very nice. Boyd Matson, another explorer and host of the National Geographic radio talk, moderated it. Boyd and his son, Taylor, went on the trip with us, so it was really cool seeing him there on stage. In fact, it was awesome to see all the National Geographic staff who I hadn’t seen in almost a year. Unfortunately, I was unable to talk with Dan (the photographer who came on the trip) and Boyd, so that was a real bummer. But, overall I had an awesome time seeing my friends, their parents, and the National Geographic staff. I envy you Montana winners! Hint of National Geographic: If you really want to be awesome, send all the winners back every year!
It’s been nearly a year since I first stepped off the airplane and onto the island of Grand Cayman. I still remember the way the airport smelled. The air was thick and fragrant. The pungent scents of fish, salt spray, and fruit swirled around me, hinting at the richness of the culture I was about to enter. The week I spent on that tiny Caribbean island was one of the best experiences of my life. With new friends, a camera, and a whole new world to explore, I was, quite literally, in paradise.
Winning the Hands-On Explorer Challenge has opened my eyes to the greater world. My perspective of everything has changed. With help from my camera, I now see everything as a work of art. To me, nothing is unworthy of attention. Beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places. Because I am aware of the seemingly insignificant things in life, I am able to see the whole world as a wondrous place.
I was fortunate enough to go to the 2012 National Geographic Explorers Symposium this summer. There I met several remarkable people who have followed their passion for exploring into adulthood. Seeing the enthusiasm of these men and women was incredibly inspiring. Because of my experiences, I understand that exploring isn’t just a kid’s adventure in the backyard; people actually make it their career. The opportunity to travel and discover seems like such an amazing job. For me, the Symposium was a chance to learn about what it really means to be an explorer. It is up to people like them–like us–to discover and share the beauty of the Earth, so that we will be able to preserve it.
When I first glimpsed Grand Cayman from the air, a spark was ignited in me. It was late at night, and the flickering lights of the island sparkled like jewels against the velvet black of the sea. I thought about all the lives down there; sleeping people in their beds, colorful fish concealed within coral crevices, lizards hidden beneath stones. It was then that I began to appreciate the full extent of the world, and of all the places yet to be explored.
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!
Ever since I went to South Africa as a part of the 2007 team, there isn’t a single moment that doesn’t make me long for just on more dance of the local kids of the Sam Nzima School (now the Ezweni School) or just to be two feet away from an African elephant (that isn’t in a zoo). Of course when I got the call saying that I was among the fifteen winners who were offered the amazing opportunity, it all seemed somewhat surreal. It wasn’t until we got off the airplane that I realized that we were actually in South Africa! Though the scenery was utterly and completely amazing, it was in Africa that I discovered my love for people. While being able to just breathe in the crisp African air was just breath-taking, what I really loved was being amongst the people of the village township. Just being able to talk and laugh with them when they were living in buildings with tin roofs was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Thanks to them I realized that I wanted to be a social anthropologist and devote my life to studying people. Whether it be a homeless person on the street corner or a mother in a Swiss village–everyone has a story worth telling. Why not spend my life hearing as many as I can?
By attending the 2011 Explorer Symposium this week and hearing the members of the panel talk about their lives’ work, I was motivated to follow my dreams (cliche but true). I couldn’t help but hear the passion in their voices. It was inspiring. Many people spend their lives searching for what it is that they actually want to do. Well, I’m not one of them. I have found my passion and I have National Geographic to thank for it.
Hi, this is Casey from Team Australia. I can’t believe it’s already been three years since our trip Down Under! Anyhow, I was at the Explorer’s Symposium on June 21st, and I would like to tell you about it. I arrived a little early after a two hour drive from West Virginia, which gave me a little time to explore the garden behind the National Geographic building. It was filled with a large variety of beautiful plants, which all of the birds seemed to enjoy.
The reception started at 5:00 pm, so I had an hour to talk to the other kids from the trips to the Galapagos, South Africa, and Peru, and some of the National Geographic staff who I hadn’t seen for two years. I also enjoyed the excellent food they served from different cultures. At 6:00, two Buffett Awards were presented to Moi Enomenga and Paula Kahumbu for their role in Latin-American and African conservation, respectively. Moi, a native Ecuadorian from the Huaorani tribe was given the Buffet Award for helping to build the Huaorani Ecolodge, which helps to collect funds for the Huaorani and promotes environmental conservation. Paula is a Kenyan Emerging Explorer for National Geographic who has played a fundamental role in African wildlife conservation, such as leading the fight to ban a pesticide that is killing many of Africa’s endangered wildlife including lions and hyenas.
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Hi, everyone! This is Becca, here to tell you all about the Explorers’ Symposium ’09 at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, on Thursday the 11th! I drove down from Pennsylvania and arrived at the symposium at 5 o’clock.
Before going into the hors d’oeuvres party, I walked around National Geographic’s really cool sculpture garden with my dad. It had statues of lots of different bugs, my favorite being a group of leaf-cutter ants carrying the greenery on their backs. That reminded me a lot of the trip to Peru and how much I miss all of the fabulous people on it.