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Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 6

A bear checks out the humans on the Tundra Buggy.

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read the previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassadors: Day 5.

As Teen Leadership Camp 2010 starts to come to a close, I find myself reflecting on all of the great things that I will be taking with me back to San Diego. I have been so inspired by the wild polar bears, the presentations, and, of course, the other teen ambassadors. We formed a very tight-knit “family” during this past week, and it is going to be very hard for all of us to part ways.

From observing the polar bears in the wild and by brainstorming “green” project ideas with the other teens, I feel very motivated to come back to San Diego and do all that I can to make a difference. With the support of the other teen ambassadors, the facilitators, and others, I am ready to take action to preserve the polar bear for many generations to come.

I have learned so much from this experience; this past week truly has been eye-opening and life changing.

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Teen Arctic Ambassadors: Day 5

The teens were within inches of this female bear!

Teens from the U.S., Canada, and Australia attended Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Below is a post written by the whole group. Read a previous post from the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 4.

Today the connection was truly felt. The force of climate change was driven home by Robert Buchannan and all of the facilitators and was helped by our resident two polar bears outside the window of our Tundra Buggy. Last night ended with incredible inspiration by a fellow ambassador, Alannah Watkins, and the facilitators, Cynthia and Andrew. We were dazzled by the map of the retreating sea ice in the Arctic, which drove home the importance of taking action.

We started the day off with a lovely song from BJ and a wonderful breakfast of blueberry pancakes and maple syrup. Next, we set off on the tundra and watched a presentation from the Green Team regarding climate change. We burst into fits of laughter as the Orange Team performed their skit, which featured the evil, ignorant businessman.

In another special experience, we were given the chance to physically go down onto the tundra and learn about some of the plant life that the polar bear lives with, viewing it from their eye level. After this, we saw a polar bear coming toward us from across the tundra. We were fortunate enough to have the polar bear stand up, lean against the buggy, and come almost face to face with us. Polar bears have such sensitive hearing that they are more likely to hear a whisper than a loud bang. Kindra Maples, one of our inspirational facilitators, then told us to whisper to the polar bear and have that special moment with this animal. For us, seeing and hearing the polar bear and being close enough for us to feel its breath really sent the message home of why we are here.

After this amazing experience, we had to be pulled away from the polar bears to receive the equally inspiring experience of talking to students from a Canadian class of fourth grade students class and one of the ambassadors, Brenna Woods’, high school. It was very difficult to hold our concentration during these videoconferences with the arrival of two polar bears that enthralled us with their quirky behavior and the first snow fall on the tundra. The snow was a unique experience for the Australian team. Then another hour was spent viewing our resident polar bears spar, roll around, and dazzle us with their character.

The rest of the afternoon was spent creating our forward action plan, and through that we created the latest organization on the environmental front run by 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassadors, Green Across the Seas, which will focus on reducing carbon emissions in local and global organizations. Following this, we had a videoconference with Robert Buchanon, CEO of Polar Bears International, who highlighted the power of youth and challenged us even further to make our organization a powerful force in our communities. Robert believed we were truly going to make a difference as the Northern Lights shined on us during our stay in Churchill. The day was finished with John Gunter, general manager of Frontier North Adventures, providing us with a unique insight into ecotourism. He became our first official green pledge in the Green Across the Seas crusade!

All of these experiences have touched us in many ways and ensured our participation once we return home. From all the Arctic Ambassadors, thank you for providing the youth of tomorrow with inspiration to last a lifetime.
The Teen Arctic Ambassadors of 2010.

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Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 6

A bear checks out the humans on the Tundra Buggy.

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read the previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassadors: Day 5.

As Teen Leadership Camp 2010 starts to come to a close, I find myself reflecting on all of the great things that I will be taking with me back to San Diego. I have been so inspired by the wild polar bears, the presentations, and, of course, the other teen ambassadors. We formed a very tight-knit “family” during this past week, and it is going to be very hard for all of us to part ways.

From observing the polar bears in the wild and by brainstorming “green” project ideas with the other teens, I feel very motivated to come back to San Diego and do all that I can to make a difference. With the support of the other teen ambassadors, the facilitators, and others, I am ready to take action to preserve the polar bear for many generations to come.

I have learned so much from this experience; this past week truly has been eye-opening and life changing.

1

Teen Arctic Ambassadors: Day 5

The teens were within inches of this female bear!

Teens from the U.S., Canada, and Australia attended Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Below is a post written by the whole group. Read a previous post from the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 4.

Today the connection was truly felt. The force of climate change was driven home by Robert Buchannan and all of the facilitators and was helped by our resident two polar bears outside the window of our Tundra Buggy. Last night ended with incredible inspiration by a fellow ambassador, Alannah Watkins, and the facilitators, Cynthia and Andrew. We were dazzled by the map of the retreating sea ice in the Arctic, which drove home the importance of taking action.

We started the day off with a lovely song from BJ and a wonderful breakfast of blueberry pancakes and maple syrup. Next, we set off on the tundra and watched a presentation from the Green Team regarding climate change. We burst into fits of laughter as the Orange Team performed their skit, which featured the evil, ignorant businessman.

In another special experience, we were given the chance to physically go down onto the tundra and learn about some of the plant life that the polar bear lives with, viewing it from their eye level. After this, we saw a polar bear coming toward us from across the tundra. We were fortunate enough to have the polar bear stand up, lean against the buggy, and come almost face to face with us. Polar bears have such sensitive hearing that they are more likely to hear a whisper than a loud bang. Kindra Maples, one of our inspirational facilitators, then told us to whisper to the polar bear and have that special moment with this animal. For us, seeing and hearing the polar bear and being close enough for us to feel its breath really sent the message home of why we are here.

After this amazing experience, we had to be pulled away from the polar bears to receive the equally inspiring experience of talking to students from a Canadian class of fourth grade students class and one of the ambassadors, Brenna Woods’, high school. It was very difficult to hold our concentration during these videoconferences with the arrival of two polar bears that enthralled us with their quirky behavior and the first snow fall on the tundra. The snow was a unique experience for the Australian team. Then another hour was spent viewing our resident polar bears spar, roll around, and dazzle us with their character.

The rest of the afternoon was spent creating our forward action plan, and through that we created the latest organization on the environmental front run by 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassadors, Green Across the Seas, which will focus on reducing carbon emissions in local and global organizations. Following this, we had a videoconference with Robert Buchanon, CEO of Polar Bears International, who highlighted the power of youth and challenged us even further to make our organization a powerful force in our communities. Robert believed we were truly going to make a difference as the Northern Lights shined on us during our stay in Churchill. The day was finished with John Gunter, general manager of Frontier North Adventures, providing us with a unique insight into ecotourism. He became our first official green pledge in the Green Across the Seas crusade!

All of these experiences have touched us in many ways and ensured our participation once we return home. From all the Arctic Ambassadors, thank you for providing the youth of tomorrow with inspiration to last a lifetime.
The Teen Arctic Ambassadors of 2010.

1

Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 4

The third bear spotted by the teens.

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read her previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 3.

I cannot even begin to describe the feelings running through me right now, but I’ll give it a shot! This morning, October 13, my fellow ambassadors and I got out on the tundra and headed for the Tundra Buggy Lodge, the place we are going to call home for the next few nights. On the way to the Lodge, we saw three different bears. The first bear was far away, but the fact that we were observing a polar bear in its natural habitat put many of us in a state of shock, wonder, and amazement.

Words cannot describe how I was feeling when we saw the next two bears. The second bear was very large and was resting about 50 feet (15 meters) from the buggy. Occasionally he would get up, sniff the air, and then lie back down. His “lazy” behavior was a way of adapting to his environment; in the warmer climate of the Hudson Bay, polar bears have to be very conscious of how much energy they are expending in order to survive the many months in which they don’t have a good meal.

Rachel in the Tundra Buggy with the 3rd bear in the background.

The third bear came as a surprise: as we were heading to the Lodge, the bear may have been spooked by the Buggy, ran in front of it, and then laid down next to a stream. It was a smaller, younger bear, and she couldn’t have been more than 20 feet (6 meters) from us. We observed this bear for a couple of hours; it was the closest encounter to a wild polar bear that most of us have had so far.

As I was watching this massive, majestic creature, I was overcome with emotions. I kept thinking, “I have to help this animal.” In that moment, I made a commitment to myself to do whatever it is I can do to be a voice for this species and help preserve it for many years to come. I felt immense respect for the species, and I simply observed the little things she did: the way she would wiggle her ears, how she would rest her giant head on her massive paws, and the way she would sit and watch the people around her marvel at her beauty.

I truly can say that I fell in love with this magnificent species, and I cannot wait to inspire others to feel the same way!

Read blog posts from the other teen ambassadors…

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Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 4

The third bear spotted by the teens.

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read her previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 3.

I cannot even begin to describe the feelings running through me right now, but I’ll give it a shot! This morning, October 13, my fellow ambassadors and I got out on the tundra and headed for the Tundra Buggy Lodge, the place we are going to call home for the next few nights. On the way to the Lodge, we saw three different bears. The first bear was far away, but the fact that we were observing a polar bear in its natural habitat put many of us in a state of shock, wonder, and amazement.

Words cannot describe how I was feeling when we saw the next two bears. The second bear was very large and was resting about 50 feet (15 meters) from the buggy. Occasionally he would get up, sniff the air, and then lie back down. His “lazy” behavior was a way of adapting to his environment; in the warmer climate of the Hudson Bay, polar bears have to be very conscious of how much energy they are expending in order to survive the many months in which they don’t have a good meal.

Rachel in the Tundra Buggy with the 3rd bear in the background.

The third bear came as a surprise: as we were heading to the Lodge, the bear may have been spooked by the Buggy, ran in front of it, and then laid down next to a stream. It was a smaller, younger bear, and she couldn’t have been more than 20 feet (6 meters) from us. We observed this bear for a couple of hours; it was the closest encounter to a wild polar bear that most of us have had so far.

As I was watching this massive, majestic creature, I was overcome with emotions. I kept thinking, “I have to help this animal.” In that moment, I made a commitment to myself to do whatever it is I can do to be a voice for this species and help preserve it for many years to come. I felt immense respect for the species, and I simply observed the little things she did: the way she would wiggle her ears, how she would rest her giant head on her massive paws, and the way she would sit and watch the people around her marvel at her beauty.

I truly can say that I fell in love with this magnificent species, and I cannot wait to inspire others to feel the same way!

Read blog posts from the other teen ambassadors…

0

Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 3

Some of the teen ambassadors in front of the Polar Bear Holding Facility.

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read her previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 2.

Today (October 12) was a very eventful day full of learning about the little town of Churchill. In the morning, we made our way to the home of a local trapping couple, Jim and Betty. I learned a lot about their lives as trappers and how much they relied on the land for their source of income, and it gave me a new perspective on the lives of local townspeople. I learned that they had immense respect for the animals they harvested. Their stories showed how close the people of Churchill are to nature and how much they respect it.

Rachel is in front of some of the polar bear traps used around town.

The next stop on our journey around town was to the Polar Bear Holding Facility, previously called D-20. It is a “polar bear jail,” where polar bears are held for a period of time if they are found coming too close to the people in town. We learned about how polar bears are shooed away from town and how traps are set around the perimeters of the town to catch a bear that is wandering too close to the townspeople. The information we learned at the Holding Facility made us realize how much the polar bears’ lives are intertwined with the town, and Churchill sure lives up to its name: Polar Bear Capital of the World.

The rest of the day was filled with museums and a lecture about global climate change and carbon dioxide. It was really an experience when all of the ambassadors came together to talk about how we can inspire change in our communities when we return from Leadership Camp. I learned a lot today about Churchill, and the day was completed when we saw a fabulous show of the Northern Lights. I can’t wait to go out on the Tundra Buggy Lodge tomorrow morning! So far, Canada has been an amazing experience!

Read blog posts from the other Teen Arctic Ambassadors…

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Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 3

Some of the teen ambassadors in front of the Polar Bear Holding Facility.

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read her previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 2.

Today (October 12) was a very eventful day full of learning about the little town of Churchill. In the morning, we made our way to the home of a local trapping couple, Jim and Betty. I learned a lot about their lives as trappers and how much they relied on the land for their source of income, and it gave me a new perspective on the lives of local townspeople. I learned that they had immense respect for the animals they harvested. Their stories showed how close the people of Churchill are to nature and how much they respect it.

Rachel is in front of some of the polar bear traps used around town.

The next stop on our journey around town was to the Polar Bear Holding Facility, previously called D-20. It is a “polar bear jail,” where polar bears are held for a period of time if they are found coming too close to the people in town. We learned about how polar bears are shooed away from town and how traps are set around the perimeters of the town to catch a bear that is wandering too close to the townspeople. The information we learned at the Holding Facility made us realize how much the polar bears’ lives are intertwined with the town, and Churchill sure lives up to its name: Polar Bear Capital of the World.

The rest of the day was filled with museums and a lecture about global climate change and carbon dioxide. It was really an experience when all of the ambassadors came together to talk about how we can inspire change in our communities when we return from Leadership Camp. I learned a lot today about Churchill, and the day was completed when we saw a fabulous show of the Northern Lights. I can’t wait to go out on the Tundra Buggy Lodge tomorrow morning! So far, Canada has been an amazing experience!

Read blog posts from the other Teen Arctic Ambassadors…

0

Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 2

The second wild polar bear Rachel saw

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read her previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 1.

Imagine yourself in one of the most isolated places on Earth, where trees struggle to grow against the harsh arctic conditions. The wind blows across the ancient permafrost layers, and the majestic apex predator, the polar bear, roams free.

Our adventure began in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where teens from around the world met up to begin our mission of environmental stewardship. Our initial action project was focused on societal influence, where we participated in the 350.org 10/10/10 campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of atmospheric carbon levels above 350 parts per million. After listening to previous Arctic Ambassadors, we realized our full potential to make a difference to our planet’s environment. With those enthusiastic thoughts, we went to bed early, eager to begin our adventures in Churchill, the Polar Bear Capital of the World.

This morning we woke up 4:30 to catch our flight to Churchill. We were too excited to catch up on any sleep or jetlag on the flight and instead enjoyed a spectacular sunrise. Upon arrival, we were greeted with the fresh arctic morning chill and were escorted to our Tundra Buggy® for the day. Before we knew it, we were encountering our first wild polar pear.

Most of the Teen Arctic Ambassadors

This experience can be described with a myriad of emotions such as: enlightening, awe-inspiring, beautiful, connected, inspirational, overwhelming. Words just cannot describe the power and magnitude of this encounter. Arctic biodiversity also included sightings of ptarmigan, snow buntings, falcons, and snow geese.
This experience could not have been possible without the generous support from Four Points Sheraton, Winnipeg, Calm Air, Frontiers North Adventures, and Parks Canada.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

From the Orange Team: Grant, Gus, Olivia, Simon, Brian, and Rachel. Read posts from the other teen ambassadors.

2

Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 2

The second wild polar bear Rachel saw

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read her previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 1.

Imagine yourself in one of the most isolated places on Earth, where trees struggle to grow against the harsh arctic conditions. The wind blows across the ancient permafrost layers, and the majestic apex predator, the polar bear, roams free.

Our adventure began in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where teens from around the world met up to begin our mission of environmental stewardship. Our initial action project was focused on societal influence, where we participated in the 350.org 10/10/10 campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of atmospheric carbon levels above 350 parts per million. After listening to previous Arctic Ambassadors, we realized our full potential to make a difference to our planet’s environment. With those enthusiastic thoughts, we went to bed early, eager to begin our adventures in Churchill, the Polar Bear Capital of the World.

This morning we woke up 4:30 to catch our flight to Churchill. We were too excited to catch up on any sleep or jetlag on the flight and instead enjoyed a spectacular sunrise. Upon arrival, we were greeted with the fresh arctic morning chill and were escorted to our Tundra Buggy® for the day. Before we knew it, we were encountering our first wild polar pear.

Most of the Teen Arctic Ambassadors

This experience can be described with a myriad of emotions such as: enlightening, awe-inspiring, beautiful, connected, inspirational, overwhelming. Words just cannot describe the power and magnitude of this encounter. Arctic biodiversity also included sightings of ptarmigan, snow buntings, falcons, and snow geese.
This experience could not have been possible without the generous support from Four Points Sheraton, Winnipeg, Calm Air, Frontiers North Adventures, and Parks Canada.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

From the Orange Team: Grant, Gus, Olivia, Simon, Brian, and Rachel. Read posts from the other teen ambassadors.