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      Here I Go, I'm Takin' Off

      It's almost time to leave. I'm going on a trip of a lifetime to Churchill, Canada.

      For a week, I TMll be studying polar bears, now considered to be potentially endangered species. Churchill is known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World. I TMm traveling with a high school senior, named Kasey Rahn (pronounced Ran). She TMs The Toledo Zoo TMs 2008 Arctic Ambassador for Polar Bears International Leadership Camp. She attends St. Ursula Academy. Part of my job will be to shadow Casey in addition to capturing the true essence of this Arctic community.

      I just wanted to break down some facts and figures concerning the trip...

      Churchill , Manitoba

      -established in 1717

      -close to 1500 miles from Toledo

      -on Central Time

      -800 residents

      -on banks of Hudson Bay

      -military base east of the city built in WWII

      -a polar bear jail built in 1992 to house problem animals

      -only 2 deaths in recent history due to polar bears|in 1968 and 1983

      Polar Bears

      -considered a potentially endangered species; on U.S. Threatened Species list

      -20-25,000 bears in the world (60% in Canada)

      -22% population drop from the early 1980 TMs (Western Hudson Bay Population)

      -reports of bears becoming cannibalistic

      -Each fall, bears gather on the edge of Hudson Bay where they wait for the bay to freeze. The bay then becomes a highway to their Arctic feeding grounds. But the ice is freezing later each year, and it TMs breaking up earlier, leaving the bears with less feeding time (six weeks less compared to 30 years ago). Bears are reported to be weaker and smaller with females having less cubs.

      Polar Bears International (Non-profit)|spearheading the trip

      -formed in 1992

      -dedicated to polar bear conservation through education and research

      -PBI TMs Polar Bear Leadership Camp started in 2004 consisting of two dozen high school students and eight teachers from around the world (2 camps each year, one week apart)

      -mission of students: to create an action plan to help educate their peers and come up with a new mind-set on conservation issues

      -PBI investment with each student|$14,000

      Kasey Rahn Background

      -17 years old

      -St. Ursula Academy Senior

      -first time flyer!

      -zoo volunteer

      -second time competing for Zoo Ambassador

      -career goal|a field biologist studying large mammals (bears or wolves)

      Hope this information helps. Obviously, both Kasey and I will be blogging about our experiences, and I TMll be shooting and reporting as well. We hope to broadcast live, via the web, during the 7pm newscasts as well.

      This trip is a milestone in so many ways. Apparently, it TMs the FIRST time a local news station has ever been at the camp. However, The Canadian Broadcasting Company and National Geographic have been there.

      My excitement grows daily, and I hope you can share some of my enthusiasm as well.

      More to follow.