Eulogy for my Backpack


He was a friend and trusted accomplice. Together we trekked across striking wilderness. We conquered smelly and unnervingly crowded Ghanian marketplaces. We cuddled together for many nights alone in our tent on the Antarctic Peninusla, shivering and serenaded to sleep by calving glaciers and unforgiving winds. He straightened me out, supported my crooked spine for endless miles and embraced me like no one else could. He would swell with the excessive baggage I asked him to carry as a backcountry novice without complaint. The very first bit of outdoor gear given to me years ago, he has since sparked a commitment to independence and self reliance. He fostered my confidence to walk long distances in any direction.

Over the years, we became worn and ragged. Yet he continued to support me as I gracelessly fell and bellyflopped in bogs, snow and love again and again on continent after continent. Tossed in the back of public transport with all its pointy edges, he ripped and frayed. This last month I sent him off to the factory for repair. Weeks later I was called with the unfortunate news... big red was beyond repair. Osprey unsympathetically cut a history of ties and sent a  new pack in his place.

Now, an alien sits on my bedroom floor emulating the curves and colors of my former friend. He beckons for adventure, eager to be crusted in sea spray and caked in mud. I miss my old backpack. He was a monument and reminder to past lives. One of the only bits of consistency that loyally followed as I trammeled across the globe. But a decade of loving, leaving and letting go has calloused my nostalgic nature- at least on the surface.  I am ready to wear rugged and dirty this new pack but I must first thank my original friend for the memories and loyalty. Thank you for fostering this lifetime of adventure.

Rest in Peace dear friend. You will be missed and never replaced.

Forever yours, Your frayed friend Bethany

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research Biology Symposium- Barcelona, Catalonia

In February I received an Antarctica Service Medal for extended work south of 60 degrees latitude behalf of the US government and National Science Foundation.

This week I was fortunate to be funded to travel to Barcelona and participate in the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research 32nd annual biology symposium. I presented a poster on the outreach project I contributed significant time to while working as a marine biology field assistant on the Antarctic peninsula for five months in 2011. I walked away with a second place award for my presentation and learned on stage in front of hundreds that congratulations in Spain consist of 3- not two or one cheek kisses. It felt lovely and so natural to be surrounded by Antarcticans and polar research again. Also lovely to catch up with Deneb- one of the principle investigators on the project.

I find myself often dreaming of the icy desolate peninsula, my little tent and calving glaciers. I do hope to return one day and may have the opportunity to do so in a few years time. Check out the poster below to learn more about the outreach project. Media is available at and continues to be used in classrooms. Please feel free to use this educational material and contact me with questions or opportunities.

VIDEO: Green Apple Day of Service Shouts out to Mission Antarctica! : Scroll down to see our project featured!

The Green Apple Day of Service  is occurring on September 29th. The event aims to direct world discussion, action, and interest on the sustainable improvement of schools worldwide. Participating schools, elected officials, teachers, green building councils and more will volunteer in endless ways (murals to water audits). I was contacted with hopes of sharing a video I put together for the 'Mission Antarctica' outreach project featuring Clair- who was our lovely waste management specialist. Anywho, the project will be featured and I am incredibly proud that our work is being highlighted for such a wonderful event! PS: our project (allbeit indirectly) was mentioned during an interview on fox news:

'Mission Antarctica' brought phytoplankton research and life on a US Antarctic research station to participating middle schools through social media, video shorts, field reports and live chats. Students not only learned the inns and outs of polar phytoplankton fieldwork but also, how a small research station can function sustainably and effectively at the bottom of our world.

Students asked questions, participated in contests, and tuned in to the 'Mission Antarctica' app, helping bridge the gap between research scientists, ice-dwellers, and American youth. Clever outreach projects like 'Mission Antarctica' help us realize how beautiful, small, and important to protect our earth is!


Apparently our  Mission Antarctica app is being revamped because over 600 people a month are still downloading! Learn more about Mission Antarctica. You can also check out the site or download the app: Mission Antarctica.

PS. Love to all the teachers in my life most especially Deryk & Laura!