research expedition

Until July 6th no blogging: I'm in South Africa!!!

The final parent/student meeting fully attended.

Plans for meeting at the airport arranged.

Final discussions of PADI kits, where to get a wetsuit, medications, and telephones have taken place.

The Kit list has been checked off.

The bags are packed.

Tens of parent/student emails have been sent, including several pleas for emergency contact information.

Tomorrow a group of ten students and two teachers will meet at the Amsterdam Schiphol airport to begin our journey to Johannesburg, South Africa.  There we will meet the representatives from the Wallacea Opwall program and will be bussed to our location for two weeks of conservation courses, field work, and research. 

I will be keeping a daily record and will blog about it upon our return!

Until July 6th!  Happy and safe summer travels to all!

High School Expedition to South Africa!

It all started over a year ago.  I was brainstorming some ideas on how I could organize some really cool field trips for more mature science students.  I desired them to participate in fieldwork and real research.  My ideas grew and I realized it would be an even more valuable experience if there was service and/or conservation involved.  My research led me to the Operation Wallacea group ( that conducts conservation research through academic partnerships.  Comparisons with a host of other organizations resulted in me selecting the Wallacea group with which to pursue an expedition.

A representative came to our school last April to speak with students and parents.  To my surprise there was enough interest expressed to warrant commencing the process of scheduling and planning an expedition.

Thus was my inauguration into arranging such a journey for a group.  Decisions regarding collecting, tracking, and distributing funds descended upon me.  Thankfully, even though this isn’t a school-sponsored trip, the school accountant has helped me with this process.  Next, expedition booking and flight arrangements were of precedence.  Then we had additional students and a chaperone join the group and I had to coordinate adding them in to the process mid-stream.  

Countless emails, discussions, and phone calls later, I reflect back on this past year and am amazed at how I managed to squeeze the time in outside of school hours to attend to the necessities for organizing this trip.  This afternoon I printed out the packing list for the expedition and documents for parents to sign in preparation for a parent/student informational meeting on the trip.  Upon placing these items in a folder for each student I felt a surge of excitement and realization settled into my mind: this trip (June 21 – July 4) is happening!

The students and parents filed into the classroom tonight eager for information.  During the course of the 2-hour meeting I see flickers of excitement from both students and parents.  Now I am consumed with a sense of adventure and thrilled to be accompanying these wonderful youth and my super colleague on an experience of a lifetime.  We will be collecting conservation data that will be submitted to the UN in an effort to seek funds for the community to establish conservation programs.  The work will benefit not only the organisms of that area but the local people as well since they will staff the conservation efforts.  The last part of the trip will be spent on the coast scuba diving and completing coral reef studies.

We haven’t even departed yet and I am sensing that this will definitely be worth my efforts.  Here is the crazy thing; I emailed my contact at Wallacea tonight to find out about scheduling a 2015 expedition.  Anyone want to join?