I am still at home prepping for my gap year projects, but as the start of this adventure gets closer, I have started to think about what I am hoping to learn about on this gap year. I am planning on going to three places, each one unique, and with different opportunities to learn.
The first location is the sub artic research station where I will be helping them conduct educational outreach, grow hydroponic greens, and possibly help the researchers with some of the more basic tasks. This will be a very different environment that what I am used to, so up there will be my first chance to learn about what it is like to live in very cold weather conditions while they last. The lessons that I hope to learn include the hazards of living in very cold weather and safety measures with equipment and what proper clothing to wear when going outside. The next thing that I want to learn in Canada is some of the culture differences between the nearby town with a predominant population of first nation peoples, and Tallahassee.
A Raptor rehab center near Vancouver, British Columbia Canada, is stop number two. This is a center that is a cross between Tallahassee’s Science Museum and a wild life vet clinic for all forms of injured wildlife. The lessons I hope to get from this place are a little more practical. Here I am hoping to learn about wild life rehabilitation costs, fundraising, staffing, veterinarian support, community involvement and the steps needed to get an injured creature back to its original home. I hope to help teach some lessons and work to educate some of the visitors about some of the birds that the center keeps as ambassadors for their species.
A new lesson that I have learned while doing research on gap year transportation options is about airlines and carbon offsetting of air travel. The Gap Year Association shared this article on Facebook (see link). I would recommend it to anyone considering airline travel! One of the lessons that this article taught me is that some flights are less impactful on the environment. For example, the more expensive seats like first class have a bigger carbon footprint because the bigger seats take more room on the plane meaning less people per trip. The article goes into detail about how direct flights are more efficient and better for the environment since taking off and landing takes a lot of fuel, so the less that is done, the less fuel is burned, and the better it is for the ozone layer.
The last place that I plan to go and learn from is an organic farm and wildlife conservation teaching center in Devon, England. This farm uses new techniques to help provide good organic produce without any of the harmful chemicals that modern farms use as well as other permaculture land management practices. When working on that farm I am hoping to learn more about the sustainable and economical practices and how they help the farm flourish. The other lesson that I can learn is how the farm impacts the local flora and fauna and improves the local river ecosystem. I am particularly interested in learning if any of the local wild life have become problematic and what could be done to help both the farm and the wildlife co-exist.
Overall, I am grateful for these chances to learn about so many different topics that will be new to me. I have faith that all the prep work I have put in so far is going to be worth it, for a chance to learn from a variety of people and places. Whether that be how to run an ecofriendly farm, lower your carbon footprint when flying, or how to live in a cold climate, I look forward to the challenge.