Six people are traveling by sailboat to Iceland in hopes of better educating American school children.
Down to Earth is a new nonprofit run by six ambitious people who are using expeditions to enhance education and students’ understanding of nature and the outdoors.
The idea is for the team to travel to five places in five years, using only human-powered modes of transportation, and explore topics that match fourth- to eighth-grade curricula.
Michaela Precour, who leads the effort, got the idea as a teacher at a Waldorf School in Bend, Oregon.
“I have a background in outdoor education, and it was this understanding that for kids to have a connection to the outdoors we needed to start at this baseline foundation of what they’re learning in school and instill that in an expedition,” Precour said. “If they see me have intention about it, then they will, too.”
This year the group will travel to Iceland by sailboat. They will explore and gather stories and videos about several topics, depending on the grade level it is geared toward. Everything from Norse mythology to waterways to botany and more will be covered in this year’s expedition.
“This idea was, ‘How can we bring technology into schools where the kids are seeing their curriculum come to life and they can do future projects off of it?’” Precour said. “I wanted it to come to life at places where they wouldn’t have the opportunity to travel to.”
To help fund the cost of the trip Down to Earth will host a fundraiser at 9 a.m. today at the Stagecoach Bar.
One member of the team, Taylor Bones, is a Jackson resident and offered to host the fundraiser.
“It will be this great shindig,” Bones said. “We have incredible stuff to raffle off as well as a silent auction. It’s great.”
Admission is $5 at the door. Ten percent of funds raised goes to the nonprofit Protect Our Winters, and the other 90 percent goes toward paying for the sail mast on their ship. The fundraiser will include live music, a raffle and a silent auction.
There is a Go Fund Me page up at GoFundMe.com/DownToEarth-IcelandEx. The site has a goal of $1,500.
Though Precour lives in Oregon, over 37 schools across America, Europe and Canada will participate in Down to Earth’s project by watching videos, using the curriculum and tracking the team’s trip.
“It’s a five-year project, and this is just the first story,” Precour said. “The more people we can get excited about this the better. It’s not another ski trip. It’s about educating the next generation of kids and helping them see what we find passionate in the outdoors.”
The full team plans to travel to Iceland. In addition to Precour and Bones, it includes Lexi DuPont, a professional skier; Gabe Rogel, a photographer; Eli Simon, a mountain guide; and Jon Mancuso, a cinematographer.
Over five years the team plans to travel to Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Baffin Island and the Northwest Passage.
“My heart is fully in this whole thing, and it’s really, really neat,” Bones said. “I can’t wait to get out there. This is the first time I’ve had the chance to experience international travel and adventuring.”