Penticton student Jaxon Stel will have to unfold his winter clothes earlier than usual this year.
The 16-year-old has been selected to represent the Okanagan Skaha School District on a scientific expedition aboard an Arctic icebreaker. Stel will join up to 10 peers from around the country for a 10-day excursion on the CCGS Amundsen, a floating laboratory used to study the weather dynamics in the Far North.
“I’m very eager to learn more about how climate change is affecting the Canadian Arctic,” he said.
Besides rubbing elbows with working scientists, the Grade 11 student at Penticton Secondary School will also take part in laboratory and field work, and meet some of the Arctic’s indigenous peoples who will explain how the changing climate affects them and their culture.
He was selected by a committee from among seven other local applicants, according to Jennifer Wingham, the vice-principal at KVR Middle School who secured a spot on the boat for a district student.
“All the other applicants talked about climate change,” said Wingham.
“But (Stel) talked about how it would impact it here in the Okanagan, and he had lots of good research and background about what he would come back and talk to other students about.”
Stel will leave Penticton in late September and expects to spend a total of two weeks away, including travel and orientation and debriefing sessions in Edmonton and Ottawa.
A local student had been selected to go last September, but the trip was cancelled when the vessel’s helicopter crashed and killed the ship’s captain and two others. Wingham said the previously chosen student graduates this spring, so she will not be eligible to travel this fall.
The Canadian Coast Guard uses the Amundsen as an icebreaker in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during winter months, and also crews the vessel while it’s used for scientific purposes the rest of the year.
The ship is featured on the back of the new $50 bill.