WASHINGTON (April 12, 2012)—National Geographic Kids today announced the 15 winners of the 2012 Hands-On Explorer Challenge expedition to inspire the next generation of National Geographic explorers. The winners are between the ages of 9 and 14 and demonstrated a passion for exploration through their photos and essays, which were selected from more than 1,000 entry submissions from the United States and Canada.
The expedition to Montana, accompanied by several National Geographic staff members, is scheduled for July 6-15, 2012. This will be the sixth NG Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge expedition, and is the first to take place in the United States. Previous destinations have been the Galápagos Islands, South Africa, Australia, Peru and the Cayman Islands.
The 15 expedition team members are Mariah Adams, 12, from Lubbock, Texas; Arabella Chen, 12, from Frederick, Md.; Amelia Dougherty, 10, from East Freetown, N.Y.; Jordan Drossman, 12, from Armonk, N.Y.; Ellie Dufraine, 14, from Westfield, Mass.; Lena Hu, 14, from Chapel Hill, N.C.; Jackson Jacobs, 9, from Hillsboro, Tenn.; Edward Jamison, 11, from Schenectady, N.Y.; Caitlin Lynch, 12, from Bradenton, Fla.; Michael Marcham, 9, from Snohomish, Wash.; Emily Marshall, 10, from Ashburn, Va.; Dillian Staack, 10, from Miranda, Calif.; Katherine Wendeln, 11, from Mason, Ohio; Benjamin Zino, 11, from Salisbury, N.C.; and Hannah Zoller, 14, from Charleston, S.C.
Highlights of the expedition will include exploring the scenic Missouri River, tracing the footsteps of Lewis and Clark; learning fossil recognition and excavation procedures in an archaeological dig for dinosaur bones; and practicing photography tips from National Geographic photographers on hikes through Glacier National Park. As part of their prize, each young explorer will be given a Canon EOS Rebel T3i digital camera with which to document their journey.
“The Hands-On Explorer challenge is all about inspiring the next generation of explorers to get outside and learn about the world around them,” said Melina Bellows, National Geographic’s executive vice president and chief creative officer, Books, Kids and Family. “These young explorers have shown they are ready to take on all that Montana has to offer on this exciting expedition.”
Throughout the expedition, the NG Kids Hands-On Explorers will capture this field trip of a lifetime and their new discoveries in pictures and words that will be posted regularly on the Hands-On Explorer Challenge blog. Accompanying the winners will be Boyd Matson, host of the radio program “National Geographic Weekend”; National Geographic Kids science editor Catherine Hughes; and National Geographic Traveler magazine senior photography editor Dan Westergren. As the official camera sponsor, Canon will feature photographs taken in Montana and conduct several in-school events to share the expedition experience after it is over.
To compete for the NG Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge, kids wrote an essay of 300 words or less describing their explorations and the interesting things they found along the way. Each applicant also submitted a photograph they took that illustrated the subject of their essay. A panel of National Geographic experts chose 15 kids whose essays and photographs expressed the most interest in and enthusiasm for exploring, while adhering to the judging criteria.
To read excerpts from the winning essays and to see the winning photos, visit Kids.NationalGeographic.com.
About National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids inspires young adventurers to explore the world through award-winning magazines, books, apps, games, toys, videos, events and a website, and is the only kids brand with a world-class scientific organization at its core. National Geographic Kids magazine (10 issues per year) and Little Kids magazine (six issues per year) are photo-driven publications available on newsstands or by subscription in print and on tablets. The award-winning website kids.nationalgeographic.com excites kids about the planet through games, videos, contests, photos, quizzes and blogs about cultures, animals and destinations. National Geographic Kids Books is the leading nonfiction publisher with as many as 100 titles each year, including the New York Times bestseller “Kids Almanac.” National Geographic Kids Games engages kids to learn through play with games like the online virtual animal world of Animal Jam and the interactive TV experience of Nat Geo Kinect TV. National Geographic Kids Apps bring the best of National Geographic Kids to smart phones and tablets.