The Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University of Newfoundland will send one student on a summer trip to the Arctic as part of a project designed to motivate, inspire and expand young people’s vision of the North and the planet.
MI’s Meagan LeMessurier, a second-year marine environmental student, will travel to the Arctic on Aug. 4 as part of Students on Ice. The program 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 1,500 high school, college and university students from more than 30 countries have visited the polar regions with this program.
“Students on Ice will offer Meagan a chance to explore southern and eastern Baffin Island, Nunavut and Nunavik while working alongside 30 world-renowned scientists, historians, explorers and polar experts. It is a great opportunity for her to utilize what she has already learned at MI while also learning more about an important region of the planet,” said Glenn Blackwood, executive director, Marine Institute.
The match between Students on Ice and the Marine Institute is a natural one, since the program is committed to promoting polar education, science, conservation and general knowledge about the Arctic; much like the Marine Institute does through its programs, research and projects currently taking place in the North.
“Having lived and worked in the North for more than five years, I am convinced the experiences provided by Students on Ice will to help the participants expand their knowledge of the circumpolar world and gain new global perspective of the planet and its wonders,” 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 Megan and her fellow students will be treated to as much hospitality as they will learning experiences during their journey.”
MI and Students on Ice share a similar approach to education, combining traditional methods of instruction with practical experience and in-the-field training. Students on Ice weaves together elements of experiential, expeditionary and problem-based learning, starting with a hands-on approach that leads to active participation and critical thinking.
“I expect to gain valuable experience from Students on Ice that will help me when I return to MI in the fall and after graduation,” said Ms. LeMessurier. “During the expedition, I will be exposed to workshops that will be shore-, Zodiac- and ship-based in setting; as well as lectures and participatory presentations dealing with marine biology, oceanography and glaciology. I hope to gain a lot of knowledge and experience that will provide me with a great overview of the diversity of the Arctic and the impacts of climate change.”
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, travelling aboard the Lyubov Orlova, a boat constructed in 1976 and converted into a polar expedition vessel in 2002.
The Students on Ice voyage begins Aug. 4 when the Lyubov Orlova sets sail from Kuujuaq, Quebec. The 17-day journey includes shore landings, interpretive hikes, community visits, Zodiac cruises and ship-based exploration. While on the expedition, participants will encounter wildlife, including whales, seals, polar bears, walrus and seabirds.
“This will be an opportunity for some exceptional students to explore a part of the planet that very few ever get to experience. A place that is widely recognized as the planet’s early warning system for climate change,” said Geoff Green, Students on Ice’s executive director and founder of the award-winning organization. “Installing environmental ethics and making the issues real and personal is a big part of what we hope will inspire and motivate these young leaders.”
Each day during the voyage, student participants will upload journals, photos and videos via satellite to the program’s website, www.studentsonice.com. The expedition journals will record the students’ thoughts, ideas, feelings and questions throughout the trip and will allow family and friends to follow the progress of Students on Ice on a regular basis.