Cristina Veresan honored with a 2014 Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship

Logbook / Written by Cristina Veresan / 2 Jun 2014


Cristina Veresan, a middle school science teacher at Star of the Sea School in Honolulu (Hawaii) and active volunteer during Kahi Kai workshops, was one of 25 educators from the US and Canada honored with a 2014 Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship from National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions.

This log is published in Kahi Kai logbook / Title image credit: Stewart Cohen / Lindblad Expeditions

Map of our projected cruise

Group photo of the 2014 Grosvenor Teacher Fellows

Cristina Veresan - 2014 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow


Cristina Veresan teaches middle school science at Star of the Sea School in Honolulu, Hawaii, and she enriches her curricula with the unique natural and cultural history the island provides. A passionate marine educator, she volunteers at the Waikiki Aquarium and has participated in plankton outreach with Kahi Kai.

One of my lessons is an investigation of microscopic plankton in seawater that opens a larger discussion of the role of plankton in Earth’s biochemical cycles and their importance as primary producers in food webs. Using microscopes, students marvel at the seemingly alien forms of the tiny plankton, and they are astonished at the diversity and abundance of organisms they had never detected in ocean water. The plankton lab is one example of how I try to encourage students to not only understand local ecology but also its global context.

This year, on account of my commitment to geographic education, I have been selected as a National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions Grosvenor Teacher Fellow. The fellowship program, now in its 8th year, is named for National Geographic Society Chairman Gilbert M. Grosvenor. Each Grosvenor Teacher Fellow participates in an expedition aboard the National Geographic Explorer somewhere in the world. My particular expedition will be an exploration of Arctic Svalbard from June 7th-16th, and I am so excited to experience the Arctic wilderness.

In April, all of this year’s Grosvenor Teacher Fellows travelled to Washington, D.C. for a professional development workshop at National Geographic Headquarters. The three-day training was a chance to develop a collegial network among the fellows and to learn about expedition gear, photography, and outreach planning through hands-on sessions. We also had the opportunity to meet Lindblad Expeditions President Sven Lindblad, along with National Geographic’s Gilbert Grosvenor himself.

My expedition will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime voyage of discovery.

In less than two weeks, I will travel to Arctic Svalbard and board the National Geographic Explorer. I will have a chance to learn from experts including National Geographic photographers and Lindblad Expeditions naturalists. I will leave the tropics and enter a foreign landscape of pack ice and glaciers, and I will most likely observe wildlife such as walrus, reindeer, and polar bears in their natural habitat. However, I cannot forget about those tiny plankton drifting in the Arctic waters below.

My new parka, knee-high rubber boots and all manner of silk, wool, and fleece layers are already packed. Thanks to Kahi Kai, I will also be taking along a Cell Scope to document Arctic plankton with my iPhone and invite any interested shipmates to join me. The plankton images I capture can be brought back to my classroom and will allow me to compare Arctic plankton to those found in Hawaiian waters. Kahi Kai’s message of One Ocean resonates with me as I prepare for my journey. I will be bringing back to Hawai’i knowledge about a wholly different part of the world and no doubt a greater understanding of how we are all connected.

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