National Geographic Teacher Fellow Emilia Odife takes exploratory trip to Galapagos Islands

Prep biology faculty member Emilia Odife is one of 35 highly respected educators from the United States and Canada to be selected as a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow and as a member of the 11th group of Lindblad Expeditions.

Her journey as a Fellow began at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she participated in hands-on workshops covering photography and outreach planning, and had the opportunity to network with Lindblad Expeditions naturalists and past Fellows. As if that wasn't enough excitement for Odife, then came the even more thrilling part – an exploratory journey through the Galapagos Islands which Odife chronicles here via Tour Builder.

The voyage began in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where Odife boarded the National Geographic Endeavor II. The group of Fellows traveled to various stops along the Galapagos Islands including Baltra Island, Santa Cruz, North Seymour Island, Fernandina Island, Isabela Island, Santiago Island, Santa Cruz Island and San Cristobal Island. These exotic locations afforded Odife the chance to see exotic and endangered animals, volcanic rock formations and vast ocean wildlife.

"As a biology teacher with interests in genetics, evolution and marine life, the Galapagos Islands are the perfect living laboratory," Odife said. "I have been a fan of Darwin since college and the Galapagos Islands are like the holy grail of biology since it is the place that influenced and shaped Darwin's theories on speciation. It represents possibilities, resilience and evolution."

The goal of these global expeditions is to immerse Fellows in learning and give them new knowledge to bring back to their local classrooms and professional communities. From rigorous hikes to a challenging, 1000-yard swim, this summer's journey opened Odife to a new realm of experiences for her to draw inspiration from for her 2017-18 lesson plans.

"I will be using the trip to study ecosystems and the systems that have been put into place to help conserve them," Odife said. "Students will study local ecosystems and draw comparisons in terms of management and conservation efforts and the goal is to have students enact change by modifying and challenging current policies and proposals."

Odife's lesson plans will be shared with the National Geographic Education community which encompasses thousands of educators from across the U.S. and Canada. Focusing also on her interests in geography and exploration, she hopes to give Gulliver students a new perspective on how the two work can together.

"I have an innate curiosity for the natural world and, in my opinion, exploration and geography go hand in hand," Odife said. "You can always explore but if you have no idea where you are while doing it, how are you going to share it?"