Friday, July 17, 2009

Wrapping up in Monterey

Hello all,

Our On Assignment projects are wrapping up here in Monterey. Marine Biology and Conservation students have been exploring more beaches, the high-tech research world of MBARI, and now the nitty gritty accumulation of observations and information for the final projects.

All groups joined on a whale watch excursion yesterday morning. Our boat, the Sea Wolf, left the harbor into a thick fog that slowly lifted as we made our way to the Mariana Trench. We saw dolphins and then, just before having to turn around, a humpback surfaced and we watched it for a half hour.

Back to Monterey for lunch on the wharf in the sunshine. The afternoon was spent working on projects briefly before heading to Point Sur Lighthouse. If anyone has driven the Big Sur coast, you might have noticed a massive sea stack barely connected to the continent. A road snakes up the side and a stone house lives on top. A working lighthouse operates on the ocean side. We got a rare tour of the lighthouse and keeper's house. It was cool and slightly haunted.

The Photography students have been documenting everything in addition to a collaborative project on the town of Castroville, the Artichoke Capital of the World. We've visited Main Street a few times and taken various trips to the strawberry and lettuce fields of the surrounding Salinas Valley. We are approaching it like a National Geographic assignment, trying to capture the sense of place by engaging with the people and the landscape. The photo essay should be a good window into a small agricultural town of the Salinas Valley.

We hope you enjoy these photos from Año Nuevo, a State Park north of Santa Cruz where we watched a beach full of massive elephant seals basking in the sun, from the artichoke fields, post-sunset, outside Castroville, and from Point Sur...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Castroville, a quinceañera, and a kelp forest

Hello all!

Saturday morning was split here in Monterey by the Bay. Marine Biology and Conservation students cruised the famous 17-mile drive then roamed the streets of Carmel before returning to campus to research specific projects. The students are growing excited about developing their On Assignment projects for the remainder of the week.

The Photography group had a major editing/archiving/work flow session with Ed Kashi. Then the students showed four selects from their previous days' work and Ed and the instructors led a critique session. Nothing like having one of the world's best documentary photographers offer advice on how to improve our images! In the afternoon they headed to Castroville to photograph a day in the life on Main Street. Highlights included a quinceañera, a five-piece band setting up on the sidewalk, and many interactions with locals.

Then to the big show... the whole group met, after eating a tasty Mexican dinner at 'The Whole Enchilada', at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for roller coasters, funhouses, funnel cakes, deep-fried twinkies, a beach sunset, and a heavy dose of West Coast Americana!

Sunday began early for the Marine Biology & Conservation On Assignment group. They suited up and dove into the kelp forest of Monterey Bay for an 8 AM snorkeling session. The visibility was decent and the wet suits thick so the group spent plenty of time in the watery jungle.

Photography students slept in and rolled down the coast to Big Sur with Ed Kashi. We made great images in the quickly changing fog and sun and wind. It was quite a dynamic landscape. Next we curved all the way to Andrew Molera State Park for a short hike and a windy beach session. In the afternoon we said goodbye to Ed who was inspiring, energetic, smiling, and full of stories and lessons that go far beyond photography. We'll miss him.

More soon,
The NGSE crew at Monterey Bay

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Artichokes, Point Lobos, and National Geographic Expert Ed Kashi

Two big days in Monterey. After the Aquarium tour, individual On Assignment groups went their separate ways. Marine Biology took off for a jetty in Monterey to scope out the marine wildlife then hit the streets of Monterey for some urban exploring. One Photography group cruised the streets of Monterey looking for portraits while the other drove into the Salinas Valley and scouted Main Street of Castroville, a vibrant farming community and self-proclaimed "Artichoke Capital of the World." No fried artichokes yet.

On Friday we split into On Assignment groups again. The Dawn Patrol Photography crew (6:30 am departure for an hour of shooting when the light is best), returned for a second day to the old military warehouses near our campus. After breakfast, the Marine Biology and Conservation students headed to Moss Landing for a tour of a field biology research station and some hard core beach-combing (ie: scanning for interesting - often dead - marine species along this beautiful stretch of beach north of Monterey). Photography students downloaded their first batch of images... the stationary side of photography.

This afternoon, Ed Kashi, National Geographic photographer and international visual storyteller, joined us for a walk around Point Lobos, south of Carmel. He then wowed us with a variety of images from his work in the oil fields and towns of the Niger Delta and other multimedia and still photo projects he has put together over 30 years of exploration.

That's all for now!
David, Brianna, Kim, Peter, and the whole crew

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Greetings from Monterey Bay!

Hello family and friends,

NGSE Monterey Team B arrived safe and sound and just in time for a sunset on the beach. We even got our feet wet.

(Note: Not pictured in group shot - Barbara and Lily, who arrived later in the evening.)

This morning we got our behind-the-scenes tour of the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and almost saw an octopus eat a large crab.

More soon!
NGSE Monterey Bay leaders-- Kim, Brianna, Peter, and David

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Meet the On Campus Leaders

2009 Monterey Bay B On Campus Leaders, left to right:
Kim McCabe, Brianna McCoy Chapman, Peter Robbins, David Hanson


Peter Robbins. Kenyon College, B.A. Pete majored in Chinese Language and minored in Religious Studies at Kenyon, where he also took numerous courses in film and digital photography. His interest in Mandarin brought him to Middlebury for the Middlebury College Summer Language School intensive Chinese program, and to Beijing and Hangzhou where he studied abroad at the CET and Middlebury programs. After leaving Hangzhou, Pete backpacked through rural parts of China in Guangxi, Guizhou, and Sichuan provinces, taking photographs, living with farmers, and learning about their way of life. His landscapes and portraits of life in rural China have been featured in several exhibitions at his alma mater, Kenyon College. In 2007 Pete worked as a journalist and photographer for a Chinese language newspaper in Portland, Oregon, and in 2008 he taught Chinese language in Putney Student Travel’s Excel China program. In his spare time he enjoys hiking, skiing, sailing, playing frisbee, and experimenting with odd films, filters, and homemade cameras. Among other things, Pete constructs and sells his very own pinhole camera kits.


David Hanson. Washington and Lee University, B.A. David is a Seattle-based freelance writer, photographer, and multi-media artist. He majored in English and Geology at Washington and Lee and spent a semester abroad in Santiago, Chile. He led a Putney Student Travel community service program in Costa Rica and a bike tour from Paris to Barcelona. David worked as a field instructor at the Voyageur Outward Bound School in Ely, Minnesota. As a field-science instructor at the Yosemite National Institutes he led students on science-based adventures in Yosemite National Park and Olympic National Park. For four years, David was Features Editor for Cottage Living Magazine, where, in addition to writing and editing, he directed photo shoots on locations around the country. He was co-founder of the Center Street Photography Project in Birmingham, Alabama, a middle-school photography workshop. The project won city-wide education awards in 2006 and 2007. He and brother Michael Hanson (NGSE Peru expedition leader) have traveled to Ecuador, Chile, Ethiopia, and around the US to produce a series of independent visual stories using photography, audio interviews, and video content to illustrate the global sources of products such as oil, gold, oysters, chicken, timber, and coffee. He also works as a teaching artist in photography for Seattle's Arts Corps.

Marine Biology
Brianna McCoy Chapman. University of California
, Berkeley. B.A.; B.S. Brianna received simultaneous degrees in Integrative Biology and Conservation & Resource Studies at Berkeley. She was an undergraduate instructor in a marine mammals course and a volunteer at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, where she dissected and prepared reptile skeletons. Brianna completed a Wildland Studies field course in Big Sur, California, where she conducted an otter census and a steelhead stream survey. She participated in a semester-long field project in fall 2008 on the island of Mo’orea, French Polynesia, where she completed a research project on Himantura fai, the pink whipray. Brianna is a certified SCUBA diver and has been diving in Polynesia, the Mexican Caribbean, and Australia. She is passionate about marine biology and is intimately familiar with the ecology and resources of the Monterey coast.

Marine Biology

Kimberly McCabe. Connecticut College. B.S. Kim graduated cum laude from Connecticut, where she majored in Biological Sciences. She participated in the Sea Semester program based in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where she researched population dynamics and ecological relationships within the Atlantic Ocean’s Sargassum seaweed ecosystem. She spent a summer as an ordinary seaman on the U.S. Brig Niagara, in Erie, Pennsylvania, and another summer as a deckhand on the Ocean Classroom Foundation’s vessel, the Harvey Gamage. In the fall of 2007 Kim returned to the Ocean Classroom Foundation, where she spent three semesters teaching marine science, leading hiking and snorkeling expeditions, and chaperoning and managing students as a marine educator. Kim worked on an organic coffee farm in Costa Rica and taught snowboarding at the Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado. She is an active member of the Pembroke Watershed Association, helping to preserve and restore the ponds near her hometown in Massachusetts. Next fall Kim will return to the Ocean Classroom Foundation as head educator and science educator for the foundation’s semester at sea program.


Welcome family and friends of National Geographic Student Expeditions participants!

We have created this blog in order to keep you updated on the progress of your child’s National Geographic Student Expedition this summer. We hope that occasional updates throughout the program will help keep you informed about the activities, projects and successes of the program. Please keep in mind that the leaders’ first priority is the students and the program. If updates are infrequent, it is likely due to the group’s very busy schedule. Please know that any important issues that arise during the program will be discussed and resolved with leaders and parents by phone, not through the blog.

Best wishes from us all at National Geographic Student Expeditions