Can you spot the polar bear in the background? Left to right: Maddi, Sue, Martha, Kt, Emily.

© Madison Stevens

10/23/2015 2:15:53 PM

Churchill: Behind the Scenes

By Madison Stevens 

Every year during the fall polar bear migration in Churchill you have a chance to participate in the many programs that PBI orchestrates: seeing bears up close and personal with the Polar Bear Cam, listening to the experts during our Tundra Connections webcast series, and so much more. 

But behind the public face of our busy season is a team of superheroes. These are the volunteers and logistics staff who make everything we do possible, from meals to airport pickups to making sure that everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be there. So, we're giving you a chance to meet the 2015 crew! 

Fattening us up for the winter are our talented volunteer chefs - Jane, Hayden, Martha, Jessica, and Melissa - who use their considerable expertise and creativity to cook fabulous meals despite the fact that everything eaten in Churchill was either walking around the tundra recently or has spent three days on the train from Winnipeg, and variety can be hard to come by.

"Super Sue" is back for her second season as our amazing Australian volunteer: sous-chef, house mother and nurse extraordinaire, keeping all of us healthy and making sure we drink our afternoon tea.

As our logistics manager, Emily has been the grand puppeteer behind the scenes, organizing flights, housing, food, and fun for the parade of panelists and program participants who come through during the season. Unfortunately she had to leave unexpectedly for the remainder of the season, but she did an incredible job setting us up and will be passing the baton to the rest of us while she pitches in from down south. We miss her warmth and energy every day in chilly Churchill! 

Only a week in, I've hit the ground running. With Emily gone, it will be my job to fight the daily fires when plans change, as they so often do up here in the wild sub-Arctic. In between working on outreach projects like our new iTunes U channel, I'll be ensuring that our volunteers, panelists, and scientists are taken care of and get to enjoy the sights and activities that Churchill has to offer.

Despite the flurry of activity, once in a while we get to come up for a breath of fresh air. Over the weekend while our scientists were presenting at The Wildlife Society conference in Winnipeg, we had a chance to spend a day on the buggy with the bears and watch the northern lights. Face to face with my first polar bear, heart bounding with excitement, I am reminded what an exceptional opportunity it is to participate in the hectic, overwhelming, inspiring endeavor that is polar bear season. 

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