WASHINGTON (April 4, 2011)—Fifteen kids have been selected as members of the 2011 National Geographic Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge Expedition Team, sponsored by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. All participants are between the ages of 9 and 15 and have demonstrated a passion for exploration. The expedition to the Cayman Islands, accompanied by several National Geographic staff members, is scheduled for July 8-15, 2011. This will be the fifth NG Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge expedition; previous destinations have been the Galápagos Islands, South Africa, Australia and Peru.
To compete for the NG Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge, kids were invited to write an essay of 300 words or less telling of their explorations and the interesting things they have found along the way. Each applicant also submitted a photograph that they took themselves, which 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.
This year’s winners include a young sailor who longs to visit distant continents; an avid swimmer and animal lover who enjoys fishing and exploring with friends; a child who monitors water quality and levels in his pond when watering his plants; and young explorers captivated by sea life. As part of their prize, all explorers will be equipped with a Nikon® D3100™ Digital SLR Camera to document their journey.
The 15 expedition team members are Kobie Boslough, 13, of Albuquerque, N.M.; Kamryn Brown, 14, of Pleasanton, Calif.; Diego Gutierrez, 10, of Fairfax, Va.; Emmie Hine, 12, of Wilmette, Ill.; James Kennedy, 12, of Castle Rock, Colo.; Sha’anan Levy, 12, of Sebastopol, Calif.; Madeline Lloyd, 9, of Flower Mound, Texas; Clara Malanaphy, 13, of Hudson, Wis.; Kennan Negrete, 13, of Windermere, Fla.; Michael Parker, 14, of Mayville, N.Y.; Zane Richer, 14, of Candia, N.H.; Brody Schillo, 11, of Billings, Mont.; Michaela Seaton, 14, of Yorktown, Va.; Jonathan Stern, 13, of Marshfield, Mass.; and Harrison Tarabella, 15, of Fairhope, Ala.
Premier of the Cayman Islands, Hon. McKeeva Bush, said, “The Cayman Islands is extremely pleased to have this opportunity to partner with National Geographic on the Kids Explorer program. We look forward to welcoming all of the explorers, and are confident that our islands will provide the perfect mix of biological and ecological experiences for the young explorers to enjoy. With three islands to explore, we anticipate that our natural resources will serve as an unforgettable outdoor classroom that will offer the participants a deeper understanding of nature and conservation — both above and below the water. I am particularly pleased that the young explorers will have an opportunity to visit some of our most iconic attractions and experience firsthand some of the many elements that make the Cayman Islands a culturally rich destination.”
Highlights of the expedition will include boarding the Atlantis Submarine, an advanced technological marvel, where students will learn about vast coral canyons and tropical fish; a snorkeling trip to explore a shipwreck and the marine life that only recently began occupying the vessel; observing plant and animal species living in a wetland ecosystem off the Mastic Trail; and exploring a system of caves that provided shelter for many Caymanians when the islands were first settled.
Throughout the expedition, the NG Kids Hands-On Explorers will receive tips from National Geographic and local experts on how to capture this field-trip-of-a-lifetime and their new discoveries in pictures and words. Accompanying the winners will be National Geographic explorer 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.
“Daring readers to explore, National Geographic Kids magazine aims to excite kids about their world,” said Melina Bellows, executive vice president and chief creative officer of National Geographic Books, Kids and Family. “The National Geographic Society has a long tradition of identifying and supporting explorers early in their research, and I can see no greater opportunity than the Hands-On Explorer Challenge to seed the next generation of explorers. The expedition to the Cayman Islands provides an unmatched hands-on learning environment that continues our mission of inspiring people to care about the planet.”
The six girls and nine boys were chosen from more than a thousand entries throughout the United States and Canada. To read excerpts from the winning essays and see the winning photos, visit Kids.NationalGeographic.com.
About National Geographic Kids Website
Kids.NationalGeographic.com is the official website of National Geographic Kids magazine and winner of the 2010 Webby Award for Best Youth Site. The website consistently aims to inspire children to care about the planet and its inhabitants. The online publication is geared toward children ages 6-14 and covers a multitude of topics, including animals, entertainment, science, technology, current events and cultures from around the world.
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