Stories from the Field

2018 YOlympic Scholars: Frontcountry

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Some of the Alcoa Scholars in front of Lake Crescent.

It's been a busy but successful beginning to the second 2018 Alcoa Scholars class, which we've dubbed YOlympic! All 39 Scholars successfully flew into San Francisco International Airport on Sunday. The early arrivals spent the day exploring the coastline near the NatureBridge Golden Gate campus. 

On Monday morning, our YOlympic Scholars played a few get-to-know-you games before beginning their culture shares. Scholars from Hungary taught us the Hungarian alphabet as well as different words and phrases that are common in Hungarian. Did you know that, in Hungarian, to say the phrase "The owl telling the sparrow he has a big head" is equivalent to the U.S. phrase of the "pot calling the kettle black"? The Australian Scholars shared Vegemite and delicious Carmello Koalas with the group, and the Icelandic Scholars brought shark for us to try and taught us about the 13 Santa Clauses from Icelandic national folklore. 

Monday evening, 49 Alcoa Scholars and staff made NatureBridge history by being the first NatureBridge group to ever fly as part of programming. Due to the concern of worsening air quality and road closures from the Ferguson Fire in Yosemite, we decided to move this year's Yosemite Alcoa Scholars program to our campus in Olympic National Park. To make the move, the 49 staff and Scholars boarded one plane from San Francisco to Seattle. The flight went smoothly and we arrived in Seattle at 7:30 p.m. 

On Tuesday, our YOlympic Scholars woke up along the shores of beautiful Lake Crescent. They spent the day doing team-building activities and exploring the forest of Barnes Point. In the afternoon, they met with Chris Morgan, Science and Education manager for NatureBridge, to learn about the different science tools available to use in the investigations they will conduct while backpacking through Olympic National Park.

A Scholar arranges gear for the upcoming backpacking trip.

Wednesday was all about preparing gear for the backpacking trip. Educators and students worked together to check personal gear (like clothing and sleeping bags), distributed group gear (like tents and food) and double-checked that all tents and stoves were in working order. That evening, they participated in one of the favorite activities of the NatureBridge Olympic campus, canoeing in our three Salish-style canoes on the lake. 

On Thursday morning, the Scholars checked all their gear and departed for their trailheads. The four hiking groups will spend the next seven days backpacking through Olympic National Park. 
We can't wait to hear their stories when they return!

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