Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Contest Winners Describe Their Trip to the Tundra

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Contest Winners Describe Their Trip to the Tundra

Article excerpt

South Allegheny High School sophomores Stephanie Mandella, Jennifer Urban and Alexandra Ruhl worked hard last year to win a national contest sponsored by Polar Bears International that was designed to devise ways to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to protect the natural habitat for polar bears.

For their prize, the girls got to live in a tundra lodge along the Hudson Bay in Canada in sub-freezing temperatures without taking showers for five days.

And they can't wait for the chance to do it again.

That's because their trip to Canada gave them the opportunity to observe firsthand polar bears in their natural habitat.

To earn the trip, the girls last year dubbed themselves the "Energy Angels" and raised funds to purchase and distribute 1,958 compact florescent lamp bulbs in an effort to reduce carbon emissions.

Reducing carbon emissions is thought to reduce global warming and slow the melting of the arctic ice caps where the polar bears live and hunt for food.

On Tuesday, the girls shared the details of that trip with South Allegheny Middle School students during an assembly that included a video conference between the students and polar bear researchers working in Manitoba, Canada, near the Hudson Bay area. Following the presentation, the girls said they were ready to get to work on their project for this year's competition to try to win another trip to the tundra, but they were mum on the details.

During the assembly, the girls displayed pictures from their trip on a large screen as they narrated their experiences.

They showed pictures of polar bears who roamed near "tundra lodge," where they resided while in Canada. The lodge resembled a barracks and research/education center on wheels on the tundra. Their mode of transportation was a tundra buggy that attached itself to the portable lodge.

They told their classmates they could see polar bears from outside of the windows of the tundra lodge and while roaming around the tundra in the buggy. They also saw Canadian Eskimo dogs, silver foxes and arctic swans.

To conserve water, the girls -- with about a dozen others on the trip -- agreed not to shower for the five days they stayed in the tundra lodge. …

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