Anchorage 8th Graders Head to the Galapagos Islands to Track Tortoises

Anchorage 8th Graders Head to the Galapagos Islands to Track Tortoises

ANCHORAGE, AK  Tortoises, technology, and a once-in-a-lifetime trip. A highly motivated group of Goldenview Middle School students has coordinated with Ecology Project International to participate in a research trip to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador to study island ecology next spring. These twelve students will practice hands-on habitat restoration research and conservation methods.

Eighth grader Shea Etheredge said in a press release, “This will be my first time out of the country and I am excited and honored to be a part of this trip. I’m looking forward to high tech research with scientists and doing hands-on learning with the giant Galapagos tortoise. I’m ready to make an impact!”

While in the Galapagos, students will take scientific field trips to scout wild, giant tortoises, secure transistors onto their shells, and collect and input GPS data with specialized software to create migration maps. Each of these 8th graders will touch back down in Anchorage with a specific research project objective that translates to Alaska’s unique ecosystem.

Students will cultivate and share research-based ecology lessons with their middle school peers and through community outreach. As a pilot program, the trip uses peer mentoring and STEM education to foster environmental stewardship among Alaska youth.

The kids have been working to raise money for the trip by selling crafts at the Blueberry Festival, cutting lawns all summer and selling special ‘Save the Earth’ t-shirts they designed. So far, they have raised about twelve thousand dollars.

The Verizon Foundation has awarded the students STEM-focused funding towards Ecology Project International’s Activity and Research fees, however students are currently seeking additional support from individual Alaskan donors.

To make a donation to support a teen’s tuition and travel costs, you can purchase a shirt of make a donation online at