In order to appreciate my strong bond with the Audubon Society, we should go back to August of 2003. I was 11 years old and this was my first visit to the Audubon Summer Camp on Hog Island, Maine. That year, camp started on my birthday and I would end up spending my next three birthdays on Hog Island. As a child, I always had an interest in bugs, birds, animals, the environment in general. My attendance at the nature camp on Hog Island nurtured and fueled my passion. My experiences at camp have impacted how I view the environment and its inhabitants to this day. Banding birds, playing in the touch tank, and going to the mud flats all encouraged me to look deeper into what surrounded me and the impact humans have on it.
My visits to Hog Island ended when I entered high school. Like everyone else, high school was a unique time for me, and my passion for the environment was placed on the back burner. There were other studies, sports, and activities to explore. It wasn’t until my senior year that my passion for nature was re-ignited and I decided to pursue a college education in the environmental science field. As everyone knows, college is an expensive proposition, so funding was a major concern. I applied for many scholarships and grants. I was very fortunate to be awarded some scholarships, including one from the Audubon Society. These scholarships, money that I saved, parental assistance, and financial aid awards afforded me the opportunity to attend Juniata College. This small school in central Pennsylvania has an excellent environmental science program.
As I sit outside an academic building on The Galapagos Islands, reminiscing about how I got here, a lot of thoughts come to mind. My grandmother’s encouragement at an early age, an elementary school librarian, the Audubon camp on Hog Island, a retired professor who mentored me, field trips, and my collegiate experience at Juniata are just some of the components of the voyage.
While walking around my new temporary home on the Galapagos, I can’t help but notice the Darwin’s finches, observing their unique beaks, just as the famous naturalist did. This study abroad experience is fueled by scholarships and financial aid from organizations such as The Audubon Society and Juniata College. Without this support, along with the financial and moral support from my family, I would not be able to accomplish such an undertaking. It’s been a wonderful journey so far and I know when I leave the islands, I will share my experiences with future generations. Thank you!
– Kelsey Kohrs
Read more about Kelsey’s adventures on her blog, The Traveling Gypsy. Please feel free to contact Kelsey at KOHRSKA10@juniata.edu if you’d like to know more, have questions, or know of internship opportunities.