At the end of January I was accepted to a program called Students on Ice . From December 26th 2013, to January 10th, 2014, I will be joining Students on Ice on their expedition to Antarctica! Students on Ice is an award-winning program that presents opportunities for high school and university students to experience the polar regions. Their goal is to provide students with an educational experience that encourages and reinforces an understanding and respect for the natural world. Students lucky enough to have been accepted to the Antarctica expedition travel and live onboard an icebreaker vessel known as the M/V Ushuaia, along with Polar scientists, experts, and educators. Students are able to participate in hands-on research, lectures, and experiences. About 100 students attend these expeditions each year, and I am now one of those lucky people!!
My journey will begin in the Yukon on December 25th or 26th, where I will fly to Toronto to meet with a group of other students going to Antarctica. From there we will fly to either Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Santiago, Chile. Our last flight destination is Ushuaia, Argentina. From Ushuaia we will set sail onboard the M/V Ushuaia on December 30th. We will sail through the Beagle Channel before entering the Drake Passage, one of the most stormy areas of ocean IN THE WORLD. If it gets too stormy everyone has to retreat into their cabins to stay until the storm has passed, but fortunately, the trips are often calm and beautiful as well. Cross your fingers…. We will reach Antarctica late in the day on January 1st, when the South Shetland Islands will come into view. What a way to start a new year! Our stay at Antarctica will last a duration of five days, during which we will explore Antarctica’s land, islands, environment, climate, water, and wildlife. The evening of January 6th we will begin our journey back to Ushuaia. I will begin my journey back home on January 10th.
I am told that as we pass through the Drake Passage it is very likely that I will see a Wandering Albatross, which has the biggest wingspan (up to 11 feet!) of any living bird in the world. These albatrosses are birds that I have been dying to see for a long time, and now the possibility has presented itself. I will definitely be seeing penguins of at least a few different species which will be very cool. The Chinstrap Penguin is a species I am told I will see a lot of. I will also be seeing another amazingly cool bird: the Arctic Tern! Sure, we see a lot of them here at home in the Yukon during the spring, but that is exactly the point. They breed in the north, and overwinter in Antarctica. Twice a year they have to make that long journey from one pole to the other. I think seeing these birds at their wintering grounds and knowing that they will be leaving for the Yukon not to long after I leave will be special.
Don’t get the wrong idea; this expedition is NOT a vacation! It is an educational and scientific expedition for students like myself. The trip will consist of presentations, lectures, workshops, labs, research, experimentation, studying, and other hands-on experience from day to night. I plan to take advantage of this expedition to the very best of my abilities. I want to take my experiences and knowledge and share them with my community and region. My dream career is one in which I can work with birds, the north, and the environment – all of which are extremely important to me. I believe that this expedition will provide me with critical information that I can use in the future to encourage a better understanding of the delicate relationship existing between the polar regions and the world. I can use what I learn in Antarctica to study the birds of the north, and understand the critical factors that they depend on to live in harsh environments. Ultimately, I want to be able to use my experience to protect and conserve the north, its birds, and their environment, while encouraging a respect and better understanding of the natural world.
It is not guaranteed that I can travel with Students on Ice to Antarctica. Whether or not I go depends on the amount of money I raise before their deadlines. I have to raise $13,500 for the expedition starting from Toronto, all of which has to be submitted by September 1st. It does not include my air-fare from the Yukon to Toronto and back. Fifty percent of these funds ($6750) have to be submitted to Students on Ice by April 1st. I have a month to raise that 50%. So far I have raised $2500, and am searching for more sponsors. If I don’t raise enough money to present to Students on Ice I will not be able to attend the Antarctic expedition next winter. Any support would be immensely appreciated!! Donations of over $100 will receive a tax receipt from Students on Ice, and I will be posting updates during the expedition on the Students on Ice website for my sponsors to follow (this is the only contact I will have with the outside world). My Mom will be sharing my posts on my blog as well. I will also be doing a series of presentations after the expedition in various communities in southern Yukon. I will be posting the dates for these presentations on my blog once the arrangements have been made.
If you would like to sponsor me, payments can be made through the following methods. Payments should be made out to Students on Ice. Please include a note with your payment stating my name (Shyloh van Delft) so SoI knows who the sponsorship is for. E-transfers are the quickest and easiest payment methods on both sides. If you choose payment to Students on Ice by e-transfers, please enter my name and invoice number into the message box that will come up during the process. My name: Shyloh van Delft. My invoice number: 666. This way Students on Ice will know which student the money is going towards. Every donation will bring me closer to Antarctica. Thank you for your support!
If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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