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MI student excited to take part in Students on Ice


From left, Glenn Blackwood, executive director, Marine Institute; Mary Pippy, instructor and chair of Marine Environmental Technology program, School of Fisheries, Marine Institute; and Jonathan Chatman, MI student and Students on Ice participant.

 

By Darcy MacRae

For the second year in a row, a student from the Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University of Newfoundland will take part in Students on Ice.

Jonathan Chatman, who is enrolled in MI's three-year Marine Environmental diploma of technology program, will leave St. John's on Saturday, July 23 to begin his journey with Students on Ice. He said there are a number of reasons to be excited about this opportunity.

"I am most looking forward to seeing the landscape of the Arctic with my own eyes. This will be a view that not many can say that they have had the opportunity to see in their lifetime," Mr. Chatman said. "I imagine it to be like a completely different world and to see it myself will be an amazing opportunity."

Students on Ice is a program that provides youth from across Canada and the world with ship-based educational adventures to the Arctic and Antarctica with a mandate to educate and inspire a new generation of polar scientists, researchers and environmental leaders. Since 2000, close to 2,000 high school, college and university students from more than 30 countries have visited the Polar Regions with Students on Ice.

During Mr. Chatman's ship-based journey north, he will have the opportunity to explore parts of Iceland, southern Greenland, the north shore of Labrador and the northern reaches of Nunavik while working alongside 35 world-renowned scientists, historians, artists, explorers, educators, leaders, innovators and polar experts. He will be given the chance to develop the knowledge, skills, perspectives and practices to become better educated about the Arctic and the challenges facing this region today.

"It is a great opportunity for Mr. Chatman to utilize the education he has already received at MI, while also learning more about an area in which he has never visited or worked before," said Glenn Blackwood, executive director, Marine Institute. "Students on Ice will provide Mr. Chatman with real-world experience in his field and we are pleased he has been accepted into this program. A sincere congratulation goes to Mr. Chatman from all of us at the Marine Institute."

In 2010, MI's Meagan LeMessurier was chosen to take part in Students on Ice. She returned to MI in the fall with high praise for the program, a factor that influenced Mr. Chatman's decision to take part.

"It seemed like an amazing opportunity and I have always been intrigued by the Polar Regions. After seeing Meagan LeMessurier's presentation of her experience with last year's expedition, I was set on taking advantage of the opportunity," Mr. Chatman said.

Mr. Chatman's 17-day Arctic journey begins in Reykjavik, Iceland with three days of land-based education activities. On July 27 he will board a specially designed ice-class expedition vessel and set sail for Arctic waters.

During the expedition, he will take part in shore landings, interpretive hikes, community visits and meetings with local elders, Zodiac cruises and numerous ship-based explorations. Workshops, seminars, group discussions and research activities are also on the agenda.

"We may encounter wildlife such as whales, seals, polar bears, caribou and various seabirds. We will visit remote Arctic communities and archaeological sites while acquiring first-hand knowledge and insight into the dynamics of climate change," said Mr. Chatman. "The Students on Ice program is an amazing opportunity, especially for someone in the environmental field. This expedition will help me to better understand the lessons I have been, and will be, taught from the instructors at MI. It will allow me to see firsthand what has been spoken about so many times during my program."

Mr. Chatman added he feels the education he has received at the Marine Institute has prepared him well for Students on Ice.

"At the Marine Institute I have had training in safety such as first aid; this alone is something to help prepare me if there is ever an incident on the expedition. I have also had many months of sea time, so I am not one to be shy on a vessel," said Mr. Chatman. "Along with that I have had classes, assignments and reports about the Polar Regions, effects on their environment due to global warming, and the wildlife that reside there. These lessons will aid me on my expedition as they will help me better understand what it is I will see during my time there."
In order to be selected for Students on Ice, students had to demonstrate a strong academic standing, a passion for learning, an interest in the environment and leadership qualities. Close to 80 students from across the world will take part in this year's journey to the Arctic.

"After having lived and worked in the North for more than five years, I am confident the experiences provided by Students on Ice will help Mr. Chatman gain a new perspective of this region and the planet," said Carey Bonnell, head of MI's School of Fisheries, who spent five years with the Government of Nunavut. "The people of the North are very friendly and welcoming, so I expect Mr. Chatman will be treated to as much hospitality as he will education during his journey."

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