Team LCE went to Antarctica in April of 2016 with the IAE Expedition led by Robert Swan, and considered the journey a tremendous success. LCE youth representative Payton Sierra reported that she left Antarctica with enthusiasm to share her experiences with youth in her community, and also to learn more about environmental sciences!
During the course of the expedition, Payton wrote a poem, entitled “Simplicity,” that she shared with the group on our final night of reflection. Payton Sierra was awarded the 2041 Foundation “Bryce Courtney Award,” for her willingness to share her story and reflections with the team, and for her peer leadership.
LCE would like to give huge thanks to our sponsors who made this expedition possible including the 2041 Foundation, Calvert Investments, and the Ungar and Peckham Families.
Enjoy Payton’s poem below!
It is truly amazing.
It holds the world.
So many different countries and people,
Different cultures and belief systems.
And although we all have
we all have one big plan for our universe.
but we can’t make change
without taking a chance.
So we’re meeting new people,
learning new things;
and creating our own paths.
If you could really understand a person;
when they tell you their stories.
You can see how bright their eyes light up,
like a child’s on Christmas morning,
thinking all they could wish for
could be sitting under that tree.
And it’s all so blissful.
Our souls reflect off of each other like crystals.
While we’re out here recollecting
our earths innocence and purity.
All while knowing,
the seals aren’t so innocent,
and the ‘not’ so whispering winds tell us,
the sea holds the secrets
But that’s what makes all of it so great.
It’s a mystery.
Having to ask for help,
because we are not afraid to admit to our mistakes.
So together as one, we will rise up as a nation.
So let this be known,
the switch of determination is on.
And this light that we are all
creating will burn so bright,
that eventually the world will
have to pay attention.
– Payton Sierra, 16 years old.
March 17, 2016
~by Maggie Dunne and Payton Sierra
Today is the day! Our first day on land!
We woke up early to witness the ship’s entrance to Deception Island – one of the South Shetland Islands. We were thrilled and could hardly wait to get our feet on solid ground.
We departed from our ship mid-morning with our teams via small speed boats, known as Zodiacs. It was an amazing feeling riding on the zodiac and pulling ashore.
Deception Island is the site of an active volcano that had its last major eruption about 10,000 years ago. Much of the land is black/dark clay-like sand.
We imagine that deception island is what the moon might look like… it’s not what we expected in Antarctica! We learned that there is not as much snow and ice here, because the volcano warms the soil — our other stops will not look like this one.
We hiked around the mountain as a team, and had time to reflect and write in our journals at the top of the climb. Along the way, we saw our first seals and penguins!!
It was not as cold as we thought it would be – but it was VERY windy. We were putting clothing on and off—trying to find the right balance. As the 2041 team reminds us- layers, Layers, LAYERS! In order to prepare for Antarctica weather, it is important to prepare for the unexpected, because the strong winds can change without a moment’s notice!
In the afternoon, we attended a lecture on the ship on Climate Change—and we received an introduction to climate change science, carbon capture, and resolutions – what we can do to change the system from the energy we have, to the energy we need to have.
In the late afternoon we disembarked again, to explore Whaler’s Bay—a different landing site on the Island of Deception that used to be an active English Base (1912-1931) where Whales were captured and killed, so their blubber could be used for oil to produce energy, light and heat.
The islands have a history of exploitation by sealers and whalers. Eventually rules were imposed that required whalers to use the whole whale (not just the blubber), and so they took to cooking the meat as well. We saw the remnants of this practice: the rusted and decrepit metal canisters where whalers cooked the meat and stored the oil.
This practice slowed down, once Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. When the site was damaged by eruptions of the volcano in 1967 and 1969, all operations finally ceased in the region.
We were deeply impacted by seeing the remains of such a horrific practice that caused so much harm to the environment and whale population. The part of the shore where we were standing at one point was a grave yard for whale carcusses. Over the years, the whale bones sunk into the clay/black sand, and were swept into the arctic waters. Now, all that is left is the remains of a ghost town to remind humanity of an unacceptable practice.
On a lighter note, we fulfilled our childhood dreams and saw penguins in their natural habitat! At this point in the season we can expect to see Adelie Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins, and Gentoo Penguins – no Emperor Penguins at this time of the year, but still a treat!
The penguins were calm and peaceful. No fights, just companionship, swimming, caring for each other and talking to each other. They were adorable and made us really happy!
It is amazing to comprehend that we have now stepped foot on Antarctica. We are not at the mainland yet, but we will be there soon enough…
#LCEinAntarctica #ActOnClimateChange #IcyClassroom
by Maggie Dunne and Payton Sierra
March 16, 2016
WE ARE OFFICIALLY IN ANTARCTICA TERRITORY! FINALLY! WE MADE IT!
We are now passing the South Shetland Islands, and tomorrow will be our first arrival on shore! We are ready!
We learned that despite the extreme conditions, Antarctica has abundant wildlife. The sea is full of krill and plankton, which are the bottom of the food-chain, and a staple for many animals such as penguins, seals and whales. The land-based ecosystem is limited to a selection of insects and mites that depend on vegetation.
In preparation for leaving the boat, we learned about the importance of biosecurity and how to prepare our gear. We fully inspected and cleaned our backpacks and clothing, to ensure that there was no chance of introducing new plants, seeds, or articles that might fall off our clothes and disturb the existing ecosystems of Antarctica wildlife and vegetation.
#LCEinAntarctica #ActOnClimateChange #IcyClassroom
by Maggie Dunne and Payton Sierra
March 15, 2016
We’re on a boat and on our way to the bottom of the world!
After departing from Ushuaia, Argentina, we entered the Beagle Channel, a passage where the waters of the South Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans meet. The Beagle Channel waters are protected by the Andes mountains on the Argentine side, and Hills on the Chilean side. These are the calmest waters we will encounter during our expedition.
Once we left the shelter of the Beagle Channel, we entered the Drake Passage – the body of water that separates South America from Antarctica, and also known as the roughest waters in the world! Waves here can reach a height of over 10 meters! We hope that we don’t experience that….
We both slept very well during our first night in the Drake Passage! We are counting our blessings that we are not seasick at all– the same cannot be said for some other trip participants, so we recognize that we are lucky!
The anticipation is building and we can’t wait until we can catch a glimpse of our first iceberg, feel the icy wind, or glimpse the first sign of Antarctica’s wildlife. We learned that we are among the last people to venture to Antarctica for the next few months, as when we leave, the heels of the Antarctic winter will be upon us. We were told to keep our eyes open during our time in the Drake Passage because we might spot icebergs, whales or other wildlife!
During our hours on the boat, we will participate in the “Leadership on the Edge” program. Today, we listened to two different talks about Antarctic Ice and Penguins—to prepare us for what’s to come.
We were surprised to learn that the continent of Antarctica is three times the size of Australia! We also learned about the different ice formations that we will see during our journey, such as sea ice, glaciers, and icebergs.
We feel lucky and privileged to make this journey. We are taking this time on the boat for reflection, conversations with the other participants, and acclimating to life on the sea.
#LCEinAntarctica #ActOnClimateChange #icyclassroom
This is the first blog post from Maggie Dunne and Payton Sierra, who are traveling to Antarctica!
March 14, 2016:
We made it to Ushuaia, Argentina safe and sound! We traveled so far to get here from South Dakota and New York, so many flights and days of traveling and anticipation built up to this moment!
We had a brief visit in Ushuaia, Argentina, where we attended orientation and were introduced to the 2041 Expedition team. Shortly thereafter we made our final calls home and prepared to leave shore for Antarctica by boat! Neither one of us has ever been on a cruise before, so we were laughing about how our first voyage on sea is to ANTARCTICA of all places!
We have already met amazing people on the trip, and we know this is just the beginning. We were sorted into groups and the members of our group are from countries all over the world: Singapore, England, India, California, China.. the list goes on! We learned in orientation that the participants on this expedition represent 30 different countries around the world, and that there are more women than men! Wow! This is pretty impressive and perhaps historic, given that the first several decades of expeditions to Antarctica had NO women participants!
After orientation, we had a little bit of time to make last minute calls home, and then we were off to meet our groups, head through customs, and board the Ocean Endeavour, the boat that will bring us to Antarctica!
We are both anxious and excited for the journey to start. It’s hard to believe that this is really happening! We are excited to see how we can support the work of each other, and learn from each other.
For context, the 2041 Expedition is led by explorer Robert Swan. By age 33, Swan was the first person to walk to both the North and South Poles. During his expeditions, Swan experienced the effects of climate change firsthand, and became inspired to mobilize people around the world to change behaviors and take action to protect the Earth, and especially, Antarctica.
Since 2003, Swan has led annual expeditions to Antarctica with students, teachers, and business executives from around the world. Expedition participants focus on leadership training, environmental and social initiatives. Swan and the 2041 Foundation believe that the time is now to inspire the next generation of leaders to take responsibility, be sustainable, and take action in policy development, sustainable business development, and future technologies.
We are excited to be part of this journey to the bottom of the world, and to see what this expedition has in store for us! Stay tuned for more!
#LCEinAntarctica #2041 #icyclassroom #ActOnClimateChange #EdChat