I am a 14-year old kid who is planning a Gap year to explore my interests in the interface between animals, the environment, and human communities. I live on a 26-acre farm that has served as my own biological laboratory for my whole life.
A stream running through the property has become the key life source for my research and has proven to be a unique example of freshwater biodiversity. Several birds species also live on the farm, including peacocks at one time.
My most recent series of experiments involve a 5000-gallon saltwater aquarium that simulates an ocean habitat and is full with hundreds of fish species. Through my weekly dives, I have learned how to clean the aquarium and hand feed the epaulet shark, which can survive 60 times longer without oxygen than a human. This aquarium, as a living classroom, has taught me a lot about ocean biodiversity, water chemistry, and saltwater ecosystems.
Having these types of learning opportunities has compelled me to deepen my knowledge and understanding on these topics. For that reason, after reading countless literature and watching hundreds of documentaries on these topics, I have become even more determined to respond to our human encroachment on the environment. This gap year would not have been possible without the loving support and encouragement from my mom and dad. Their unwavering help and interest have made this gap year an unbelievable reality.
My year of travel was designed in collaboration with Martha G. Rhodes, Travel with Martha <see link below>, in Richmond, Virginia. Martha specializes in active, specialty and experiential travel and has provided me access to the world’s finest guides and scientists in the fields of wildlife and ecosystem conservation. Her knowledge, connections, and planning skills have been invaluable in developing a comprehensive and varied program for my research objectives.