Meet Your Guides
To visit a place as exciting and vast as Alaska, you need an experienced guide. In the Arctic Journeys television broadcasts, you will have more than a dozen guides: scientists and Park Rangers as well as local residents and kids. Before embarking, meet your Guides here and discover why they find Alaska an exciting place to live and to study.
Dr. Doug Schammel, Biologist
As the years passed, Doug was dismayed to see the changes taking place in the Chesapeake Bay. He witnessed the effects of pollution on the plants and animals. He watched introduced species (plants and animals that would not ordinarily live in the area) moving in and clogging the Bay.
When he was in 10th grade, Doug and his family went to visit an uncle in Northern Ontario, who had a cabin in the wilderness, accessible only by boat. Spending hours in a canoe, enjoying the woods, Doug gained an appreciation for the rustic lifestyle.
He attended North Western Pennsylvania College, then graduate school at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He built a cabin and lives in the rustic style he dreamed of as a teenager. Many people come to Alaska on vacation to stay in places like the Schammel home!
Doug has worked all over Alaska, studying birds and marine science while completing his thesis. His work in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve can tell us much about the birds who use the area as a summer nursery before migrating south (some as far as South America and Africa) for the winter. His work this year is interesting because he can compare it to work during previous years to get a sense of what is happening with the birds over time.
Julianna and Jay Schammel
During the summer, the entire Schammel family shares one big tent on the Tundra. They have another tent for gear storage, which Jay and Julianna often use when they need some peace and quiet.
In addition to assisting their parents, Jay and Julianna are working on research projects they've developed themselves. Each year the projects are developed and changed. Jay has submitted his work to a statewide symposium, and Julianna wrote an article on foxes that will soon appear in Dragonfly magazine.
They are full members of the research team, weighing eggs, banding and measuring birds.
Mary carried her love for dancing home to Shishmaref, and talked to the drummers and others who were interested in dancing. They were interested in learning the dances of home. Later, at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Mary worked to start a club for students who liked to dance and drum in the traditional ways. The group learned both Inupi'at and Yup'ik dances, symbolic of the cultural groups working together. She taught a class with different guests from around the state to teach about the different kinds of dancing traditional to the five main cultural groups in Alaska Inupi'at, Yup'ik, Aleut, Tlingit and Athapaskan.
In Shishmaref, many of the young people are still learning. They see themselves as future elders, and know that they are preserving parts of their culture they will in turn transfer to their children. The traditional way to teach singing and dancing is to pull the children to the front of the group to dance, even when they are only three or four years old. "Watching the elders is the best teaching," says Mary.
Wyndeth (Wendy) Davis, Park Ranger/Archaeologist
After teaching at the University's field school for two years, she took a summer job in Alaska, working for the National Park Service...and stayed there. In addition to traditional archaeological work, Wendy spent a great deal of time finding ways to explain what it is that archaeologists do.
"I spent a lot of my time teaching people about archaeology, and I loved it! Luckily, I was able to move to a job (Park Ranger) in which I can do that all the time. I work out of the Anchorage office, helping in whichever park needs it. Some people might say I'm a ranger without a park, but I like to think I'm a ranger with 15 parks!" she says.
"Archaeologists are not always good at communicating what we know, and how we came to know it," she adds. "We speak 'Arc-Bark' - a specialized language of archaeologists' scientific terms - and we don't always translate well."
Jeannette Cross, Park Ranger
"I love to teach students about the wonders of the place I grew up in. As an interpretive ranger, my biggest and most important job is to encourage people like you to help take care of, or preserve, special places like Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. I help them discover the important natural and cultural resources of the area, and how we must work together to take care of them."
Jeanette's favorite subjects are: arctic plants and animals, the Alaskan Native cultures in the area (including her own, the Siberian Yup'ik culture), the Bering Land Bridge (or Beringia), archaeology and geology. She loves to read, and can often be found reading a book, or taking a class at the local college about the arctic.
"The best thing about my job is helping people to see what a wonderful place Bering Land Bridge is. I love to spend time in different classrooms around the area, giving programs about the preserve. The worst thing about my job is that I sometimes don't have enough time to visit all of the classrooms that I want to!"