To celebrate our 45th birthday, we invited Earthwatch volunteers to share some of their favorite expedition memories with us for a chance to win an Earthwatch Correspondent Fellowship, discounts on expeditions, and free gear. We received so many amazing memories! Our judges narrowed it down to the top 10 and you helped us select the top three.
Check out our winners below and stay tuned for an update from first-place winner Nico Wills who will be reporting from the field later this year!
Photographer: Nico Wills
Expedition: Cheetah Conservation Namibia
Location: Otjiwarongo, Namibia
Date: August 2007
Memory: My favourite memory is in part, a sad one. The helpless eyes of a cheetah cub, weeks old, stare up at me from his crate. He, two brothers and a sister were brought in to the Cheetah Conservation Fund having been found by a farmer, their mother having been killed in a trap. Sadly, a few days later there were only three, one of the brothers passing away. Utterly helpless we fed them by bottle, cleaned them with paper towels and warm water, as a mother would, ‘licking’ them clean, caring for them s best we could. Slowly they grew to recognise us, their chirps and chirrups greeting us each time it came to feed or bath them. Sadly I left before they grew, but i carry with me a tiny scar on my thumb from where this little cub’s first tooth came through! Most importantly however they did grow. It took longer than the weeks I was there for but over time, and with the care of CCF and other volunteers they reached adulthood and grew strong enough to be rehabilitated into the wild to live as they should. Conservation is not something where we can see the changes instantly; it is an understanding, a deeper knowledge of the world, a desire to care for. Changes do not happen overnight but with each group that cares, with every volunteer, the safe future of our planet and its wonderful flair and fauna becomes a little more assured.
Photographer: Nita Losoponkul
Expedition: Wildlife in the Changing Andorran Pyrenees
Location: Valley of Ordino, Andorra
Date: May 2016
Memory: There is something extremely special about hiking through an amazingly beautiful valley with snow-capped peaks, as a storm was rolling in. I found it hard to believe that the valley was empty except for my fellow Earthwatch volunteers and Bernat, Albert and Jana (the scientists). Who could pass up walking through the “fields of gold” (aka daffodils)? Not me! I’ve already signed up to head back again in 2017!
Photographer: Jake Schenthal
Expedition: Helping Endangered Corals in the Cayman Islands
Location: Little Cayman, Cayman Islands
Date: July 2016
Memory: This sunset was the most vivid, expressive, dynamic sky that I’ve ever seen, and that doesn’t even mention the two waterspouts and the storm to the right! I took this photo on our final night when we were given the opportunity to swim to a nearby cay, located on top of the reef, which was an amazing experience. My favorite memory would definitely have to be surveying the reefs around Little Cayman for signs of bleaching, and then knowing that this vital information goes off to help combat coral bleaching and improve reef health, in both Little Cayman and around the world. Coral bleaching is a very serious threat that affects nearly all reefs worldwide, and it is truly inspiring to realize, in the moment itself, that I am making a difference for the better.