On Saturday, February 11, 2012, at Montana State University, Bozeman, the National Geographic Expeditions Council will be hosting an informative and exciting workshop for young people interested in exploration.  Previous National Geographic young explorer grantees, staff and grant committee members (including myself) will be hosting a day of presentations and discussion, as well as break-out group to pitch field project ideas.

Then on Saturday night, the EC will host a free evening presentation about Field Research and Exploration, during which Dr. John Francis, Vice President of Research, Conservation and Exploration at the Society, will introduce talks by Expeditions Council grantees Dr. Mike Fay and Conrad Anker.

Both events are free of charge.  For more information visit: www.nationalgeographic.com/yeg-workshop

The National Geographic Expeditions Council, which was founded just over a decade ago, awards grants to noteworthy expeditions pursing a wide variety of scientific, cultural or exploratory goals.  Last year they allocated $825,000 to 185 different grantees.

In the past, projects have been widely diverse, including Himalayan mountaineering, quests for the world’s deepest caves, studies of tornadoes and lightning, archaeology, underwater research, documentation of vanishing cultures or species, glacial studies, polar journeys and much, much more.  I, myself, have photographed a few of these expeditions and they remain among my favorite projects.  (See accompanying pictures.)

Perhaps the most exciting and fastest growing part of the Council’s sponsorship is the Young Explorer Grants (YEG) program, through which people between 18 and 25 can apply for up to $5,000 to participate in endeavors of their dreams.  Past grantees have accomplished a broad variety of their own expeditions, from kite-skiing across Greenland to kayaking rivers in Borneo, to tracking antelope in Wyoming.

Daytime events at the MSU event will focus on YEG grants and how to get them, and will be held in Room 101 of Gaines Hall between 9:45 am and 3:00 pm.  Speaking together with EC staff and grant committee members, former grantees will discuss their own projects.  These include Neil Losin, a photographer, filmmaker PhD candidate in evolutionary biology at UCLA; Andy Maser, a professional kayaker and filmmaker whose most recent film, SPOIL, won Best Mountain Environment film at Banff Mountain Film Festival; and Amy Higgins, a Master’s student at Yale, studying artificial glaciers in Ladakh and their impact on agriculture.

During the 7:30 pm evening program at the Strand Union Building, where doors open at 7:00 pm, Expedition Council grantee Mike Fay will discuss his recent 1,800 mile trek through the entire redwoods range and Conrad Anker will show highlights from his EC-sponsored, 275-mile journey through Tibet’s remote Chang Tang region, in search of the calving ground of the elusive Chiru antelope.

If you are in the area, sign up quickly because this event is certain to fill.

Gordon’s Pictures of EC Sponsored Expeditions:

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After a National Geographic Expeditions Council grant meeting, Director Rebecca Martin descends a staircase below N.C. Wyeth paintings and the Society’s hallowed board room.