Young Explorers: Encouraging Innovation in the Sciences, Art, and Conservation
By Adventure Canada | March 15, 2022
© Michelle Valberg
By Adventure Canada | March 15, 2022
© Michelle Valberg
Offered in partnership between Adventure Canada and The Explorers Club since 2016, the Young Explorers is a unique and innovative outreach program that supports the personal and professional growth of youth.
Youth apply with specific, place-based project proposals that demonstrate significant potential, then travel on board one of Adventure Canada’s selected expeditions to conduct their research or complete a creative or cultural project.
We believe the alumni of the Young Explorers will be the next generation’s leaders of thoughtful policy, action, and communication.
Many past participants have already used their experience to springboard further educational pursuits and their careers. Learn more about a few of their amazing successes below!
Keiji Hammond, an early career scientist, studied the geochemistry of southern and southwest Greenland using thermobarometry techniques on Iceland to Greenland: In the Wake of the Vikings. Keiji currently works as a Senior Museum Specialist in mineral deposits at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Keiji shares, “The Young Explorer's program has granted me access to remote regions of the Arctic to collect field samples for geologic research. This has given me an incredible opportunity in my early career to visit an under-studied region of the planet in order to gain an insight into the history of the Earth. The findings will add to the data pertaining to the early North American Craton and the rifting of the mid-Atlantic ridge."
© photo provided by Keiji Hammond
Participating in the Young Explorers program on Iceland to Greenland: In the Wake of the Vikings gave Keiji the opportunity to collect geological samples he wouldn't otherwise have been able to access.
Kristin Gates created two short films during her time on the Heart of the Arctic expedition—one about plastics pollution in the Arctic, and the other about dog mushing and climate change. These projects inspired her to take her filmmaking to the next level with a project based out of Alaska and Northwest Territories.
The Sacred Place Where Life Begins documented community advocacy for the protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in collaboration with National Geographic, the Sierra Club, and the Wilderness Society. It went on to become an official selection and award winner at more than thirty film festivals.
Kristin shares, “I never would have had the courage to step up and start this project if it hadn’t been for my time with Adventure Canada.”
Brynn O’Donnell and Jessica Van Fleteren, who met on their Newfoundland Circumnavigation expedition, were both interested in studying sustainable fisheries and food security. Together they’ve since collaborated on a creative project called Shifting Baselines, as well as independent work in science communication.
Brynn shares, “The experience of interviewing fishermen abroad for a communication piece has enabled me to secure my current position at a seafood sustainability non-profit. Without the opportunity given to me by Adventure Canada and the Young Explorers, I don't think I would have the experience or the confidence to partake in that sort of responsibility.”
Jessica shares, “As a Young Explorer I was able to take risks in exploring new ideas in storytelling I would not have had otherwise. I was able to connect concepts about food security with global climate change as well as plastic pollution, truly highlighting that each important sustainable development goal is truly tied to one another.”
© photo provided by Brynn O’Donnell
Participating in the Young Explorers program gave Jessica and Brynn meaningful opportunities to connect with local fishermen in Newfoundland.
Justine Ammendolia, who studied microplastic presence in remote waterways on both Arctic and Atlantic Canada expeditions, now partners with National Geographic to educate and build student empathy around plastic pollution. Her Masters research with Memorial University developed key understandings about marine ecology and her work with the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition has since helped communicate this information to the wider public.
Justine shares, “The Young Explorers Program has significantly changed my personal and professional life. Participating in this program gave me a unique opportunity to not only do science, but also share and mobilize my knowledge and learn from others in the program. This experience has taught me the value of community-based collaboration.”
Justine has now begun an interdisciplinary PhD program at Dalhousie University, with support provided by a competitive national grant program. Her research will track environmental plastic pollution of all sizes in and around bodies of freshwater.
Joshua Powell first joined Adventure Canada as a Young Explorer studying the impacts of adventure tourism in the Arctic. That experience pushed him to do further fieldwork in the polar regions, including in South Georgia as a Churchill Fellow on island conservation, and in Svalbard and Franz Josef Land as the host of Frozen Islands, Arctic Seas for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Two years later, Joshua returned to Adventure Canada’s Scotland Slowly expedition as a Scientist in Residence in partnership with WWF, championing the Wild North Atlantic series through the #WWFVoices campaign. He shares, “We exceeded our target of reaching over 50,000 people with content about biodiversity conservation in the North Atlantic region, from the potential impact of climate change on puffins and other seabirds, to habitat restoration on the offshore islands.”