WASHINGTON (July 10, 2014)—On a mission to inspire the next generation to explore and protect their world, three recent college graduates will be driving a biodiesel ice cream truck across the country this summer, giving out free ice cream to children and encouraging them to take a conservation pledge. Caleb Kruse, Cameron Kruse and Jordan Fatke will embark next week on an Ice Cream Expedition and will be filming a documentary about how conservation is seen from a child’s point of view. The expedition received funding from a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, and the trio is partnering with National Geographic Kids to spread the word and share the journey digitally with kids around the world.
Launching Thursday, July 17, at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, the Young Explorers will drive a retrofitted ice cream truck that runs on vegetable oil across 33 states. Sharing a free scoop of Magnolia Tropical Ice Cream as a conversation starter, the team will make stops at parks, museums, aquariums and other venues to talk to children about the importance of exploration and ways to help preserve natural areas. They will also encourage children to sign a pledge to explore and protect a place that is meaningful to them, such as a local pond or a backyard garden. Magnolia will be donating all of the ice cream for the trip, and the available tropical flavors will be avocado, mango, guava and a mix of purple yam and coconut. Magnolia Tropical Ice Cream has been made in Northern California for more than 40 years by third-generation family company Ramar Foods.
Throughout the cross-country journey, which will end in New York City in September, the Young Explorers will share updates at www.theicecreamexpedition.com and will post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #icecreamexpedition. To view the full itinerary and take the conservation pledge, visit kids.nationalgeographic.com/icecreamexpedition.
“I’ve always wanted to drive across the country, and a friend once jokingly suggested I do it in an ice cream truck, and the idea took hold,” said Caleb. “The ice cream truck holds a unique position in a community and can be used as a platform to start talking to people, especially kids — and that’s who we’re trying to inspire.”
All three Young Explorers spent much of their childhood outside, fostering a passion for exploration that has continued as they’ve grown older. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Earth systems at Stanford University, Caleb, 22, conducted field research projects on four continents and at sea. His brother, Cameron, 24, earned a degree in biology from Pepperdine University and worked with developing communities in Togo. Cameron also spent a year researching the immune-boosting potential of a native plant while on a Fulbright Fellowship in Ahmedabad, India. After graduating from the film program at George Fox University, Jordan, 25, worked with Invisible Children to develop creative ways to use film to instigate social action to help end the use of child soldiers by a rebel group in Africa.
To pursue his dream of driving an ice cream truck across the country, Caleb applied for a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant. Since 2007, the Young Explorers Grants program has helped cover field project costs for more than 350 individuals ages 18 through 25 to pursue field-based research, conservation and exploration projects consistent with National Geographic’s existing grant programs.
Caleb, Cameron and Jordan raised additional funds through a Kickstarter campaign that exceeded its $18,000 goal. They purchased a diesel step van, converted it into the ice cream truck and retrofitted it to run on vegetable oil. The rest of the money raised will go toward living expenses during the trip, event materials and costs of making the documentary.
Caleb’s application also caught the eye of the National Geographic Kids team, which is helping with planning, developing and spreading the word about the project. The Ice Cream Expedition home page will live on the newly redesigned National Geographic Kids website and will feature a trip map, pictures and updates from the road and video highlights. National Geographic Kids magazine will also feature the expedition in its September 2014 issue.
“National Geographic Kids is proud to be supporting these Young Explorers in their expedition across the United States,” said Rachel Buchholz, editor and vice president of National Geographic Kids and a committee member of the Young Explorers Grants program. “Through their work, they’re inspiring kids to explore their world as well as protect it. And who doesn’t love free ice cream!”
* Tentative route stops and dates:
San Diego, July 17
Los Angeles, July 18
San Francisco, July 20
Portland, Oregon, July 23
Seattle, July 25
Boulder, Colorado, Aug. 2
Colorado Springs, Colorado, Aug. 3
Lincoln, Nebraska, Aug. 6
Austin, Texas, Aug. 10
New Orleans, Aug. 16
Tallahassee, Florida, Aug. 24
Charlotte, North Carolina, Aug. 30
Chicago, Sept. 6
Washington, D.C., Sept. 12
Boston, Sept. 20
New York City, Sept. 23
* Locations and dates are subject to change. Visit kids.nationalgeographic.com/icecreamexpedition for the most up-to-date information.
NOTE: Photos are available at http://press.nationalgeographic.com/downloads/IceCreamExpedition/.
(username: press; password: press)
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 60 titles each year, including the New York Times best-seller “Kids Almanac.” National Geographic Kids safely engages kids to learn through digital play in the virtual animal world of Animal Jam. National Geographic Kids apps bring the best of National Geographic Kids to smartphones and tablets.