Friday, March 12, 2010

Earth Explore Learning - A Path to Success

We've witnessed it so many times in the past 15 years.  Students participate in one of our learning adventures, and emerge as very different people.  More focused,  more mature (yes, we get lots of props from parents on that one), and more prepared to tackle new challenges that lie ahead.

I have two teenagers.  And, like other parents, I've learned that motivation is everything.  It's one of the keys to a successful future.  Although EE students learn plenty (and qualify for college credit in many cases), the personal changes we see are, I'm convinced, more important than what's learned.  How many of us wouldn't like to have had a bit more confidence, a greater ease in dealing with challenges and with people, at an earlier age?  

Our past participants have gone on to be doctors, engineers, scientists, artists and confident adults.  And we're happy that they still call the EE experience an important one in their lives.

After all, when you have a platform for success, anything is possible.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Know a Great Teacher?

You know the kind I mean. Loves kids, and loves teaching. The kind of teacher who encourages students to believe that they are special, and that they can do and accomplish anything.

The kind of person who, through their positive influence on kids, shapes the future.

That is the kind of teacher that we at Earth Explore work hard the entire year to find.  They're out there.  As parents we know them instinctively.  Our kids talk about them.  Love their classes.  Remember them fondly, as do we.  Through experience we know that this kind of teacher will help students to blossom on their away from home learning experiences. 

So if you know of someone like that, and most of us parents do, then do us both a favor and tell them about Earth Explore Adventures at http://www.earthexplore.com/. We provide rewarding opportunities for teachers to venture outside the classroom with their very own students, to share spectacular places and experiences with those kids, and learn and grow right alongside them. 

One of my favorite things all year is to witness this in action.  When I get the chance to join one of our groups, whether it be in Alaska, or Costa Rica, or Jackson, Wyoming...I see teachers and students interacting in ways not always seen in the classroom.  Relaxed, excited about what's to come, and loving every minute of it.  There is no pressure to learn, or to teach, or to have fun.  It just happens. 

Our teachers earn professional development credit on their trips.  Important for their careers, and for the requirements of many school districts.  But I'll bet they'd tell you that's not why they decided to do Earth Explore.  No, it was more likely the chance to travel and learn, and to see their students reinvented belore their eyes, and in turn, be reinvented in their students' eyes. 

Reinvented as someone who just loves learning.  Period.  And loves to mentor and encourage kids to learn as well.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Bio Gem of Costa Rica

We at Earth Explore are excited to be expanding our programs south in 2010, to the rich and environmentally important nation of Costa Rica.  Home to critical world biomes, Costa Rica is beautiful and educationally rich.  But it is also much more than simply a showplace of luxuriant tropical life.

In a place blessed with such a rich array of nature's splender, something rather unusual in human history has taken place.  This small nation has taken aggressive steps to lock it's jewels away from rampant and uncontrolled development...the kind that has despoiled environmental treasures in too many other places.  The nation has been aggressive in promoting sustainability...and hopes to become the world's first carbon neutral nation.  National Reserves and Parks, many arising from, or supported by private donations, have sprung up everywhere.  There is a push for eco friendly development and tourism; very good signs for the future.

But the picture is not all rosy.  Pressures to open coastlines to oil and gas exploration and drilling, and exploit virgin rainforest for timber and mining are ramping up.  All too easily, this small nation could be directed down the path seen so often in the tropics; of slash and burn and quick profit.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has named Costa Rica a world Bio Gem...and is encouraging action to keep it safe, wild, and beautiful.  We believe sustainable tourist development and visitation can help to provide a solid economic base to counter the lure of quick profit through exploitation of natural resources.

What do you think?  If you're interested in the issue, go and learn more about the NRDC's Bio Gems, by visiting http://www.savebiogems.org/costarica/


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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Excitement for 2010

Is eco consciousness going mainstream? It looks that way, with new planet-friendly products appearing on the shelves everyday, and a new, heightened awareness of our human impact on Planet Earth being expressed by former skeptics. We applaud it. It seems change is in the air and it's a refreshing breeze!

Coming off one of our most successful summers ever, change is also in the air at Earth Explore, and I and the rest of my colleagues are tremendously excited about the coming season. Already we're planning new programs, most notably an incredible eco adventure to Costa Rica, which includes thrilling adventure along with our primary focus of the study of marvelous and fragile places on Planet Earth. We're lining up the world's best partners, and we'll study biodiversity in the lush rainforest, go up into the canopy for a close look, snorkel and kayak in pristine reefs that are now beginning to feel the effects of climate change, and enter volcanic preserves.

All of this meshes well with our mission of getting young people energized about Planet Earth, and excited about its future.

By the way, go online to earthexplore.com where the latest pictures from this past summer's adventures are now being posted. And drop us a line about the new Earth Explore website. We've made it more user friendly, more graphic, and hopefully, also more informative!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Scenes from the Summer




Myself and the rest of the EE staff are still checking out pictures from this past summer's adventures. The photo contest winners will be posted soon. For now though, here are a few scenes I'd like to share. These kids will be going forward with a new understanding of the importance of the Earth's fragile environments, and their own power to make positive change.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Let's Invent

As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. And right now, with the problems facing our country and the world, we've got a lot of inventing to do.

Truth is, necessity is a great motivator too. It gets us moving, gives us a boost to try an idea, and encourages us to find new ways of looking at old problems. And those are good things. Because it's clear that doing things the same way isn't working.

Let's take the way we look at our planet and energy. Drill, mine, extract and consume. Kind of easy, and also very of out of date. But our new necessity to find something better, not only to keep our cars going but our planet healthy, is the mother of a wealth of new ideas and increased support for aggressive action.

Would we have taken these steps without crisis? Probably not. The painful truth is that very often only an urgent (and scary) necessity can spur us to take real action.

The Earth Explore Foundation supports new ways of looking at the same old things. Our Adventures put student and teachers in places where they discover interrelationships between our living planet, and our living selves. Those connections, and finding new ways to confront old problems, will be the theme that dominates the coming 50 years. That's why it is so important that our teachers, and our young people find out about these things for themselves, and bring that knowledge, and some new approaches and new thinking back with them.

They will invent the future. And the world will be better for it.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

The Power of Active

It used to be that it was enough just to get outside. We remember it as kids. Get a little dirty, connect to nature a bit, and get back to your life. But today, young people don’t have it so easy. It’s becoming clear that if the onrushing generation is to turn around the myriad of global challenges we face, they must not only get outside, but also carry what they learn with them always.

We’re talking here about environmental education, and, no, I don’t mean tree hugging. It’s clear that no isolated movement, no fractional part of our global community getting on board, will be enough. These days we have a challenge to make it both cool and mainstream for young people to connect to nature, advocate for their planet, and not just view it from the window of an SUV.

The good news is that change is happening. An awareness is slowly emerging that "green" doesn’t have to be an extremist view. That what we need is everyone advocating in their own way for this small piece of cosmic real estate that we share.

We see the change every day when students take to the field. When they see a chunk of glacial ice fall from the front of the Exit Glacier in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park, it’s no academic exercise. It’s a real experience of the importance of what is happening, and informs in a gut-level way that no DVD or textbook can. When students witness bleaching of pristine corals off the Kona coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, or hear about tundra changes in Alaska’s Denali Park, they know that this is real, that the world is changing, but also that they have the power to help shape the future.

Active is good. More than that, getting kids active is an essential part of what will help us turn the corner to make this generation, and future ones, different from our own. In the past two decades operating hands-on programs, we’ve found time and again that "doing" leaves a deeper, more lasting impact that hearing, or seeing. The old truism that "what touches the hand reaches the mind" is something that can’t be denied. And doing it is a powerful force for motivation and change. Maybe the best tool that we have.

I for one am optimistic about this generation. Inspiration and idealism is certainly not a thing of the past. Young people energized through active experiences in nature are a powerful force for real change. Among our students we’ve seen it inspire leadership, and advocacy. Our students have gone on to share their experiences with friends and family, and incorporate the knowledge gained into their lives.

There is an urgency now that never existed before, of course, but it is a challenge that I believe young people can handle. If I feel like getting inspired and hopeful, I know what to do. I join a group of young people mixing it up with nature. I always come back in a better mood.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We're all deciders, but the Environment is a unifier

People are beginning to get it. We're all in this together.

That realization is sinking in for millions across the United States, and hundreds of millions more across the globe. Global climate change, and its impact on humans and lesser life forms, can't be hidden, run from, ignored or denied any longer.

It's a big problem. But, lucky for us, an even bigger opportunity.

Through a decade and a half of taking students and teachers on journeys to explore the larger world, we at Earth Explore have found that the environment can be a profoundly unifying theme for we humans. That's precisely why we center our field studies around it.

When you set about to consider how the human community interacts with the larger global assemblage of living, and non-living things, you need all of the tools at your disposal. You need to know something about science, history, cultures and art. And you need critical thinking skills. Study of the environment forces us to come to terms with a supremely complex, multi-dimensional world.

But there's more to it than that. The environment is something we all have in common. A thread that runs through all of our lives, whether or not we like math, get jazzed by science, or are students of culture. The earth's environment is part of us, and we part of it. It shapes us, and we shape it. For better or worse.

Now back to the unifying part. In the same way it pulls our field studies together around a theme, the environment is a truly non-partisan, not polarizing issue around which humans can, and should rally. Yes, we can build our homes on hills, or behind locked gates, but all of us are ultimately the victims, or benefactors of what happens to our shared environment. In this case you could say we breathe...and therefore we are. Linked together that is.

The next ten years will be an opportunity for we as a global community, and most especially the United States as the leading nation of that global community, to recognize the power of common environmental action. Power not only to lift our planet out of peril, but to pull us together as a profoundly, inescapably linked human community, acting in common cause.

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