Nanaimo teen heads off on Arctic adventure

NANAIMO – Isabella Thorsteinsdottir hopes to study endangered species in the Arctic one day.

Isabella Thorsteinsdottir

Isabella Thorsteinsdottir

Isabella Thorsteinsdottir hopes to study endangered species in the Arctic one day.

The Dover Bay Secondary School student is on her first trip to that region of the world this summer with the Students on Ice Youth Expedition 2012.

Thorsteinsdottir, 15, is one of about 80 students aged 14-18 from around the world selected to participate in the ship-based journey with 35 scientists, historians, artists, explorers, educators, leaders, innovators and polar experts from July 29 to Aug. 13.

She is also one of five female students to get a Leacross Foundation scholarship to pay for the trip.

The excursion educates students about environmental issues facing the Arctic and they will participate in shore landings, interpretive hikes, community visits, Zodiac cruises, workshops and research activities as the ship travels along the east coast of Baffin Island and to the west side of Greenland.

“They want us to make connections between natural systems and humans and reflect on those experiences we have,” said Thorsteinsdottir, who moved to Nanaimo from Iceland five years ago.

“Since I came from Iceland, I’m really connected to the north.”

Thorsteinsdottir is a member of the Dover Bay Eco Club, the school’s outdoors club and GAIA Activism, a global network of youth working to ensure a sustainable future.

She’s on the trip to further her understanding of environmental issues, to experience the spectacular natural scenery – in her spare time, she does a lot of hiking and just returned from a five-day trip to Nootka Island with the school’s outdoors club – and to learn as much as she can from the experts and other students on the trip.

“I think it will teach us a lot about independence and leading people,” said Thorsteinsdottir. “I’m hoping to learn more about planning and preparation, talking to people and leading, for example, the eco club.”

She learned about the Arctic opportunity through another eco club member, Cassandra Elphinstone, who heads to the University of B.C. in the fall. Elphinstone went on the trip last year and another former Dover Bay student, Carson Hardy, went the year before.

Thorsteinsdottir wants to study medical sciences and become a veterinarian, which combines her love of biology and animals.

“I love animals – I have some horses and a couple dogs,” she said. “I really hope to be able to travel to remote places and do research for endangered species. I’m definitely going to try to continue my environmental activism.”

Clare Glassco, Students on Ice participant coordinator, said there were about 55 applications for the five Leacross Foundation scholarships offered this year and Thorsteinsdottir was picked for her leadership potential, among other things.

“Her communication skills are phenomenal,” she said. “In her application form, she was hugely articulate, which is even more amazing given English is her second language.”

For more information about the trip, please go to www.studentsonice.com/arctic2012.

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