2014 Winnipeg Conference
January 25 (Adam)
Our last full day in Winnipeg began with (a much appreciated) lazy morning. We had planned on going cross country skiing early, but thanks to the frigid air decided we'd better stay warm. After a lovely breakfast at the Waterman/Roth household, we made our way to the Assiniboine Park Zoo, where we were fortunate enough to get an awesome private tour from Stephen Petersen, head of Research and Conservation at the zoo. We saw the polar bears at the zoo, learned about the research going on at the zoo, and were able to see a preview of the upcoming "Journey to Churchill" exhibit. We enjoyed seeing a variety of animals, both outside in the cold as well as in the refreshingly heated "Toucan Ridge," home to a variety of South American birds, reptiles, and mammals. After we got back, we had some rest and a very heated and contentious game of Boggle (sorry Jennie, 'dat' and 'yesh' aren't real words, and therefore don't count). Later, we all met up at the Kroeker/Labun house (Alexis once again forgot our posters) for a farewell dinner. Donna made some excellent food, and we had a great time hanging out and playing Apples to Apples. We had some interesting conversations about the future of the Kelvin/Park partnership, and are all excited to see how the program moves forward. We're now back at Tim's house, and were just visited briefly by Anna who stopped by to deliver the long-lost (since October) hairbrush. "And now we're just straight up chillin'," says Tim. Overall, it's been a great couple of days and an invaluable experience for all of us. Now, it's off to bed, since we have a 7:30 flight tomorrow morning.
January 24 (Megan)
For Jennie, Alexis, and me, the day began abruptly, with the words, "we're leaving in five minutes!" We jumped out of bed, scrambled to get dressed, and ran through the snow to the car where Webs and Adam were waiting for us. The second day of the conference began similarly to the first, but without our friends from Kelvin, who had to return to school. We saw some really interesting presentations. The first was Jim's presentation, in which he talked about the relationships between stress, parasites, and diet in Arctic foxes. Two other presentations that I really enjoyed were related to our own research. One touched on the relationship between permafrost and water drainage, while the other discussed many of the same habitats that we study. Over the past two days I really enjoyed the fact that the conference is focused on Wapusk National Park, because it means that it is easy to make connections between presentations and to our own study. It was exciting to start recognizing the same trends in the data presented by different groups. In the afternoon, the tone of conference became more conversational. We broke into groups to discuss different questions about the future of research and monitoring in Wapusk National Park. Many of these questions dealt with collaboration between different researchers and monitors. Because a major objective of our study is to find a way for people living in the north to collect permafrost data based on the ground cover (plants, water, etc) that they see, I joined a group discussing how best to involve citizen observers in research. I had thought a lot about what we will need to do to make sure citizen observers can collect accurate data, but I had not thought very much about how to get people involved in helping to collect this data. We spent a lot of time discussing this second part of the question, which got me thinking about the ways we will need to reach out to Churchillians when the time comes to get citizen observers involved.
After the conference, we ate dinner at a Franco-Canadian restaurant on a bridge and then went to see a one-man play called Leo. We didn't know what to expect of the play, since the theater's website was primarily in French and all we had heard was that we shouldn't worry about it being in French, since there would be no speaking. Leo turned out to be wonderful. The actor performed on only half of the stage in a boxlike set. On the other half of the stage was screen, which showed everything the actor was doing, but rotated ninety degrees. The actor was a gymnast, and he acted as if a wall was the floor and the floor was a wall. From one perspective (either the screen or the stage), his actions would look possible and even natural, while from the other perspective, he seemed to defy gravity. After the show, we returned to the Waterman/Roth household to enjoy other evening activities such as homework, well-meaning snarky comments, and a dramatic reading of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean (which may or may not have also been homework, and may or may not have also been a bit snarky).
January 23 (Jennie)
Today we got up early and Adam, Megan, Tim, and Maddie (two kids from Kelvin) all practiced the presentation again while we ate donuts in the Roth’s living room. Shortly after, we all piled into the rental car. As we got out of the car, we parked next to a Kelvin car, and we said hello and noticed that they had their poster. Immediately we realized that again Alexis left the poster. We signed in and soon the conference started. There were introductions, and soon the speeches began. Our presentation went well. Megan and Adam did a great job. When Adam presented a specific slide that proved how the active layer thickness to the temperatures correspond the entire audience oohed and awed. The audience asked quite a few questions towards our presenters, and they answered them perfectly. After our presentation there were a few more. There was a presentation, and we found out that they are going to make a Google street view of Churchill. After a few more presentations we had lunch. After lunch, some hung up our poster, others had deep conversations with important people in the conference. The presentations to come were about snow geese in the arctic. The snow geese population is rising, and somehow it needs to decline because the snow geese are damaging the habitat in the park. After questions were asked based on the snow geese, Alexis and I briefly introduced our poster along with others introducing their posters. Then, we stood by our poster and mingled around with everyone from the conference. We looked at other posters which had to do with arctic programs for Canadian high schools, wolves’ appearances corresponding to the lunar calendar, lakes dying up in Wapusk, and cameras that were set up for watching polar bears. Some people came and asked questions about our poster. After that we left the conference, and returned to the Roth’s house. We hung out in their living room again, and we discussed the day and what we thought of different presentations. Then we went to Maddie’s house and had dinner. We planned our schedule for tomorrow evening, and Saturday. There is a lot of more fun to come. Tomorrow, after the conference we are going to go ice skating at The Forks, go to dinner at a Franco- Canadian restaurant, and go to a show called “Leo”. On Saturday, we are going to go cross-country skiing, and then we are going to go to the Assiniboine Park Zoo.
January 22 (Alexis)
What a day. We had plenty of room to spread out on our plane to Toronto, as we were the majority of 5 out of 9 people on the plane. As we spread out, each person claiming their own row, we watched a snowy Baltimore disappear out our windows with a plethora of excitement that failed to cease as a snowier Toronto unfolded before us a couple hours later. We had a bit of excitement when I managed to forget the posters on the plane, but a little bit of me sprinting through the airport and going down up escalators later, everything was squared away and we made it through customs and security to arrive at our next gate with a few minutes to spare. The plane from Toronto to Winnipeg was a bit more crowded. Although we were lucky enough to have little movie players paired with just enough time to watch a movie and Jennie, Adam, and I soon discovered that we had all, unaware of each other, selected We are the Millers and Adam and I were exactly in sync both in where we were in the movie and at which jokes we were loling at. In Winnipeg, we got our rental car, our stuff, and our Tim Bits and we were on our way. As someone who is prone to motion sickness, there were ups and downs of the plane ride, but all's well that ends well, and I'd say today has definitely ended well. The Roth's house is great, and after some delicious pizza, we are going over our presentation in the living room as I write this. I anticipate an excellent day tomorrow as days in Canada tend to be in my experience, stay tuned!