PolarTREC has a Teacher in the Field!

By: Janet Warburton, Education Project Manager, Arctic Research Consortium of the US (ARCUS); and Judy Fahnestock, PolarTREC Project Coordinator, ARCUS

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We are excited to announce that in 2021, we are able to support a couple of PolarTREC expeditions!

In May, PolarTREC teacher, Liza Backman, from Brooklyn, New York spent 14 days quarantining in Fairbanks, Alaska and then joined her research team studying the Phenology and Vegetation in the Warming Arctic 2021 expedition at Toolik Field Station. She is working alongside Drs. Steve Oberbauer and Jeremy May monitoring changes of vegetation communities at and around the field station. Liza will work with the research team at Toolik for the next four weeks. Follow her expedition here. On 15 June Liza will be sharing her experience live from the Arctic. To learn more about the research, register for this free PolarConnect event.

Figure 1. Liza Backman stands on the boardwalk while monitoring the MISP (mobile instrumented sensor platform) at Toolik. Photo courtesy of Jeremy May. Figure 1. Liza Backman stands on the boardwalk while monitoring the MISP (mobile instrumented sensor platform) at Toolik. Photo courtesy of Jeremy May.

Figure 2. Sarah Ansbro (Left) and Liza Backman (Right) collect berry samples during the annual early-season berry survey. Photo taken by Jeremy May. Figure 2. Sarah Ansbro (Left) and Liza Backman (Right) collect berry samples during the annual early-season berry survey. Photo taken by Jeremy May.

In June, ARCUS will be sharing expedition research updates through the PolarTREC website for High Arctic Change 2021, a research expedition supported by National Geographic. This expedition is a continuation of PolarTREC alumni and teacher, Mark Goldner's, research experience that started with PolarTREC in 2011. He's returning to Svalbard, Norway with Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette. This expedition will start in late July.

Figure 3. Mark Goldner teaches 7th and 8th Grade Science in Brookline, MA. He is returning to Svalbard this summer with Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette to study the dynamics of glacier systems. Photo courtesy of PolarTREC.  Figure 3. Mark Goldner teaches 7th and 8th Grade Science in Brookline, MA. He is returning to Svalbard this summer with Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette to study the dynamics of glacier systems. Photo courtesy of PolarTREC.

Finally, in September we anticipate PolarTREC teacher, Jon Pazol, heading to Norway to board a ship-based expedition as part of the Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observational System program. More details about this expedition are emerging as the season progresses.

For the rest of the PolarTREC educators, their expeditions to both the Arctic and Antarctica continue to be postponed until 2022. To stay informed on new developments, please visit the website and join the Polar Education List to learn about new resources, lesson plans (including virtual lessons), and the latest news on our program.


About the Authors

Janet WarburtonJanet Warburton is a Project Manager for the PolarTREC program at the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS). Ms. Warburton has managed the education programs at ARCUS since 2000 and in that time has helped over 180 teachers on research expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Ms. Warburton has lived and worked across the state of Alaska and now lives in Anchorage, Alaska.


Judy FahnestockJudy Fahnestock joined ARCUS in 2008 and is a Project Coordinator for the PolarTREC program. She holds an MSc in entomology from the University of Maryland, and natural resource degrees from the University of Massachusetts and Paul Smith's College.