A week ago I drove away from Toolik, down the Dalton Highway, back to Fairbanks and eventually traveled back home. My co-pilot slept almost the entire time so I had 8.5 hours to reflect on the expedition while navigating the often one lane dirt road that winds around mountains and has potholes the size of Kansas. Since I have been home people have asked me how my experience was and if everything I posted in my journal and on Facebook was really how it was. I answer them honestly. The experience was amazing. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been selected.
My time in Toolik was an incredible professional growth opportunity for me. I came home with my head spinning on how to not only convey what I learned, but also how I could inspire others. Toolik is the epicenter of Arctic research in the United States. There were amazing projects happening around me outside of my work in Dr. Bret-Harte's lab, and I feel grateful that others invited me in to sample some of their work. From caribou grazing to high altitude balloons, researchers invited me to learn about what questions they were asking and what conclusions were being made. I saw science in action and my motivation to teach students to be the next generation of scientists, to be critical thinkers and to base conclusions on evidence, was affirmed.
This expedition was just the beginning for me. I am inspired to do more, both professionally and personally. I am in love with the Arctic and I left a little piece of my heart when I drove away last week. Speaking to many of the researchers at Toolik, I know that I am not alone in this awe of the tundra and Arctic landscape and that it keeps people coming back for years and years. I am hopeful that this will be my experience as well.
Thank you for following my expedition.