WASHINGTON (July 6, 2012)—Fifteen winners of the 2012 National Geographic Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge expedition to inspire the next generation of National Geographic explorers embark today on a 10-day Montana expedition. The contest winners, ages 9-14, have 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. Throughout the expedition, sponsored in part by the Montana Office of Tourism, the young explorers will document this field trip of a lifetime and their discoveries in their own words and pictures, which will be posted regularly on the Hands-On Explorer Challenge blog.
Highlights of the expedition will include exploring the scenic Missouri River and tracing the footsteps of Lewis and Clark; learning fossil recognition and excavation procedures in a dig for dinosaur bones; and practicing photography tips from National Geographic photographers on hikes through Glacier National Park.
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.
“These kids are ready to get outside and experience everything Montana has to offer,” said Melina Bellows, National Geographic’s executive vice president and chief creative officer, Books, Kids and Family. “We’re proud of these budding explorers and hope to see them return as National Geographic conservationists, explorers and photographers.”
“Montana is very excited to have been chosen as the first U.S. destination for the National Geographic Hands-On Explorer Challenge expedition,” said Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. “We are honored to be partnering with National Geographic Kids in providing this opportunity to bring these eager and inquisitive children from all corners of the U.S. to Montana to fully appreciate and experience the sense of wonderment that being engaged in nature and the outdoors affords them. We are certain they will come away inspired by Montana’s deep history, rich culture and dramatic beauty.”
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. The expedition to Montana is the sixth NG Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge expedition. Previous destinations have been the Galápagos Islands, South Africa, Australia, Peru and the Cayman Islands.
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.
About the Montana Office of Tourism
The Montana Office of Tourism (MTOT) has the enviable job of enticing travelers to choose Montana as a vacation destination. By showcasing its spectacular nature, unspoiled landscapes, iconic wildlife and vibrant, welcoming towns, MTOT highlights the many attributes that make Montana a distinctive and unparalleled travel experience. A variety of tools have been developed to assist travelers with their vacation planning. VisitMT.com serves as an all-inclusive resource for inspiration as well as information on what to do, where to go and where to stay. GetLostMT.com provides a “go where the locals go” perspective on where to eat, stay and play while traveling off-the-beaten path in Montana, while the new interactive (and free) iPad magazine, Get Lost in Montana — The Magazine, meets the needs of the tech-savvy traveler with journalistic photography, slideshows, video clips and narrative storytelling to encourage and inspire travel to Montana. Ultimately, in its mission to promote the state, MTOT strives to improve Montana’s economic vitality while maintaining an exceptional visitor experience and preserving Montana’s incomparable environment and quality of life.