Music and Mission Road Trip

This past year I felt led to initiate a summer program for young adults that would encompass living an intentional life, enhancing their musical skills and deepening their spiritual journey. The following comments are from my co-staff, Samantha Elie, and several of the students. There are three parts…1. Samantha’s perspective 2. Student evaluations 3. Samantha’s continued adventures.         Enjoy them all and if you have the means to support Samantha on her continued adventures, that would be awesome.

1. Youth Leadership through Music

This summer I did something a little different: I poured my energy into enabling youth leaders through music, rather than plants. Music has been a love of mine for my entire life. I relished the opportunity to expand into this space again, especially in my professional context of empowering young people striving in leadership roles.

The project mission is for youth leaders to build the habit of acting with intention through music and outward into the rest of their lives. A group of seven students, ranging from ages 16 to 21, collated themselves into the band, Rapport. Members are all from conservative religious communities that span across the Pacific United States: Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii.

One of my mentors invited me on as co-director for the pilot summer program. A primary reason why this mentor is so influential in my life was the early installation of intention and internal motivation to create the life I am dreaming of, as opposed to the reaction existence modeled before me. By supporting this project, my personal goal is to pay that intention forward by encouraging the next generation of young leaders to shift from reactive to active decision-making.

In my role as co-director, I led interpersonal and group dialogue, asked questions and offered perspective to individuals and the team, primarily encouraged and offered critiques when appropriate, was a listening ear and hugger when requested, ensured people were fed, sound was on point, drove the Big Red Bus (the roaming stage and gear-hauler), secured safety as the night staff, and am assisting in the planning of next year’s program.

This six-week project was split into two main components: it began with two preparatory weeks in Portland, OR, followed by four weeks on the road touring through Bend, OR, Walla Walla, WA, Spokane, WA, and Skagit Valley, WA. Each day was organized to follow the SPIRRS process, which highlights the Spiritual, Physical, and Intellectual/Emotional personal pools we get to invest in each day, then the Relationships, Resources, and Services we pour ourselves into. The students began most days with private reading, reflection, and journaling, then a trip to the gym to meet spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical needs. These practices “filled their cups” to allow for an afternoon of intense music devotion and teamwork. Every day was at least a 12-hour working day for students, and 24-hour working days for the two staff members.

In mid-June, we all gathered in Portland, OR to begin living and working together. Each student came prepared with 45 songs to share with the large group: 15 tracks “that folks 60-80 years old would value”, 15 with spiritual significance, and 15 contemporary pieces. Of these 45 tunes, each student selected one song for solo performance and a second for intimate duets. Students were split into two small groups and from this pool of roughly 315 songs, each team chose a handful to arrange and practice together.

During the opening two weeks, students devoted most of their energy to modulating self-care and learning how to listen to each other both in the team building context and musically. To encourage this, we focused on essential internal care skills. Phrases like: “put your mask on first”, “fill your cup”, “what are your gremlins asking for?”, “ask for what you need”, and “walk to the ‘center line’” became tropes that enabled everyone to serve the team from a fulfilled place. Specialists in voice and harmony, rhythm and guitar, and media promotion were brought in to expand student’s outward practical skills. The inaugural two weeks closed with the first concert, held in the front yard of the program leader, affectionately nicknamed “The Wizard”. His neighborhood and friends made a generous audience.

The tour began in Bend, OR. We arrived to the school that hosted us in their gym on Tuesday, the fourth of July, in the mid afternoon. During that first day in Bend, the students had a bit of time to practice before dinner, then after dinner, the choice to watch fireworks or continue to practice for the gigs later in the week. We put one of the students in charge of selecting a dinner location for the evening and unwittingly, they chose a river-side lodge serving $60 plates of elk ribs attached to a resort hotel. Upon reviewing the menu on site, students were dumbfounded — most of them had never been to a restaurant of this style and expense. It became a lesson in accepting and valuing nice things, a lesson in self-worth. Plates were cleaned over the corse of two-and-a-half hours, blowing through any time available for firework viewing.

Performances began gradually, allowing for plenty of additional practice time. On Wednesday, the students had a trial gig at a senior community center. If they did well that day, they could play during lunch on Thursday and Friday. They did fantastic, with old folks singing, dancing, requesting ACDC, and all. Thursday held returning faces at the senior center, not out of normal routine, but specifically to see Rapport. Friday there were two local news stations on site interviewing students and highlighting the event. Bend was the slow start and smashing success that reassured students that they were on the right path, despite the interpersonal challenges and hardship of transitioning from feather pillows to sleep on a gym floor.

The following week we moved to Walla Walla, WA, from a gym floor to that of a high school music room. The crack that inevitably forms in team dynamics happened this week, a month into the program. Some students were working themselves to the bone and not prioritizing their own self-care, while others were practicing the bare minimum amount to sort of skate by — this deficit was no longer tolerable and things got heated among students after one of the most lousy Jackson 5 covers I had ever witnessed. Students opted to cancel shows for the next two days so that the band collectively and individual members could get things together. “The Wizard” and I watched things unfold and helped to facilitate mending conversations from as distant positions as we could manage while still offering care. It was important that the students navigated these new waters with independent integrity if the tour was to continue over the next two and a half weeks.

One definition of leadership that I was taught is “leader of one, servant to others”. It was clear that at this point, the “one” had been forgotten in both camps. I was so proud of the independent care, compassion, and tenacity that students showcased over the subsequent two days. Those that had not been attentive to their own needs rested and focused on passion projects, while those who needed to put the hard hours into practicing music followed through until their vocal cords croaked and fingers were sore. Each of these acts allowed everyone to come back together and serve the whole at greater capacity. The next several days were fantastically packed with brewery gigs, a farm show, nursing home duets, busking on the street, and performing as the main act at a food cart festival.

Spokane, WA was our next stop. When we arrived at the church that was hosting us, we were welcomed by two very excited people and a fridge stocked with baked ziti and homemade veggie burgers. On the road so far, everyone had been grocery shopping and eating very simply, so fresh food made with love was a very welcome sight.

On that first night in Spokane, the students played for a men’s shelter — this was their first interaction with houseless people as a team. As nerves ran high, unsure of what types of exchanges to expect, I saw everyone sink into themselves. Staff encouraged immersion with community in every situation. At the senior center in Bend, students sat with elders and shared lunch and the same was expected here. To sit with people and share stories or bear witness to their experiences was a leading growth edge throughout the program and I believe was instrumental in getting students out of their sheltered shells into the “real world”. Students were to sit no more than two at a table, ideally surrounded by others, the elderly, houseless folks, pub goers, etc.. I sat and was joined by two students and one man who shared his love of blues guitar. I watched these students eke out of their shells when the common adoration of music became known. We are all human, we all have dreams, we all love. Dinner was followed by their performance. Any of the men living in the shelter were invited to attend. I ran sound from the stage that night and was able to observe differing levels of engagement from the audience firsthand. People sang the words that they knew, some moved a couple rows forward while others left the room, a number viewed the performance stone faced and a few buried their face in their hands with emotion.

After the music stopped, a student that shared words during the show was wrapped in conversation with at least three men, approaching one at a time. While the others packed up equipment, this student was encouraged multiple times to continue speaking by residents, even though they felt awkward. The student was insecure that they had nothing of value to say, especially to those whose life appeared much more difficult than what they had known, but their humanity shone through and touched a few men. This support reached a different place than our words as staff, parents, or teachers could and I am grateful for this diversified experience. I can see how it empowered the rest of their time on tour, especially as a band leader.

Later in the week the students were treated to a studio session, plenty of practice time, and held a kickin’ country performance at The Harvester Restaurant. Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash came out and they lifted off as a band, both accomplishing personal best-effort excellence and pleasing the crowd of farmers. For this show, new set leaders were selected and each rose to the occasion beautifully. Students that had not had the opportunity to sing took the mic while others rocked impromptu percussion. Everyone was listening and flexing with each other. It was a joy to mix sound and watch.

Our final week was spent back on the west side of the mountains, in Skagit Valley, WA. Students were offered reprieve from sleeping on the floor in a church recreation center that had a couch for everyone. We arrived late and the students had a full next several days.

Early the next morning, students were rallied and split into groups to invite houseless people from all stretches of Skagit County to the next day’s event, for which they were providing a day of music to accompany free showers and haircuts. The humanistic themes of the previous week paved the way for this task and the following event. Students were clearly instructed to make eye contact and ask names, using them in conversation in order to be authentic in their invitation. Despite the day’s hard work, there was little turnout at the event. The students were tenacious and completed three two-and-a-half hour sets in the rain all the same, mostly to an empty parking lot. They had a lot of room for experimentation and seemed to enjoy themselves more during these sets than many others. They were all dancing on stage and greatly improved their stage presence in the extra breathing room. I even received a rock n’ roll happy birthday song with solos and all. All and all, this was a fantastic way to set off the final week of touring.

The remainder of the week was filled with a performance at the rodeo grounds, hiking and music at Rosario beach, and a quiet vespers service. At Rosario beach, I was able to share some of my nature love with students. I wish there was time throughout the tour to be in natural spaces, while there was some, I believe that more would have facilitated peace and creativity. As I assist in planning next years program, I will be more insistent on this point. Rosario beach is attached to Deception Pass State Park. In the afternoon I stated that I was going for a hike and invited any students that wanted to join to accompany me. I cast the lures of berries and edible plants, and it worked! We headed off towards the bridge to Whidbey Island. Along the way I picked berries and fed them to surrounding students, who inquired further about leaves, roots, and fungus.

About half way through the adventure, we stopped at a beach along the trail. Myself and two other students began turning over rocks to look for crabs. One of the most serious and aloof students magically came out of their shell when handed a quarter-sized crustacean. Their face broke the mold and glowed, laughing as they tried to keep hands on the little critter that wriggled up their arms. They passed the small crab around, showing it off like a kindergartner at show-and-tell. Once they were done sharing this individual, they gently placed it back into the water, rolled up their pants, and went in as is as deep as they could to find the biggest crabs possible. When they found a large individual, they shrieked with joy, uncertain to pick it up. Whenever they held a crab, they marveled at the modeled coloration, size, and quickness. I saw a budding marine ecologist emerge out of the business major. My biggest dream for all of them (and a pillar of the program) is that they follow their passions, rather than the prescribed path. Eventually we continued to walk. Students admired views, the fresh sea air, and giant trees of the Pacific Northwest rainforest. We were called back to Rosario beach by dinner sandwiches and the evening’s gig.

Their final show mirrored where it all began, on “The Wizard’s” front lawn in Portland, OR. The sound cut out a few times as the power flickered, yet they enthusiastically played on, clearly enjoying the fleeting camaraderie. Each took a turn sharing a piece of their experience throughout the performance and this deeply resonated with the crowd of friends and neighbors. Applause was thunderous as the students showcased their growth over the last month.

That night was the breakup of Rapport. The students would never perform together in the same context again. Students, who used to primarily play music at church, are now engaging out of their comfort zones with houseless people, the elderly, pub-goers, professional music producers, and the general street-walking public. They are now courageously performing and creating music that speaks to their souls.

A couple students were beginning college in the coming fall, two continuing their undergraduate studies, one was off to the United States Marine Corps, and two had some high school to wrap up. Their lives were on different pages, but something in their leadership journey had led them to this place. In our final round-up, I asked what in their own story took them here: why did they decide to spend their summer with “The Wizard” and devoted to music? That closing conversation not only reinforced existing connections, but enlightened new ones that strengthened bonds moving forward.

The breakup was slow and painful for me. I love being on the road and had become quite attached to our miraculous team. Over the next three days, students departed from Portland. I split this time between saying goodbyes, sleeping, appreciating to non-student music, and digesting the project with “The Wizard”. We made plans and discussed adjustments for this following year’s program.

2. Student Responses

Micah TeeheeI am pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Inner Anvil this summer. This letter focuses on aspects where I believe more intentionality could have been applied by myself, my bandmates, and the staff. While I critique multiple parties, I acknowledge the overall success of the trip and accept my share of responsibility.

While this was not an Adventist trip, I perceived it as a Christian outreach endeavor. While ministry occurred, I feel that the full potential wasn’t realized due to varying band motivations during performances. Diverse perspectives on Jesus within the band were not problematic; the issue lay in the lack of recognition that the trip’s purpose centered on Jesus. I anticipated a focus on sharing Jesus beyond the church, and I’m disappointed with how most of the crew, apart from Ryan and Benji, engaged in witnessing to others, particularly at the start.

If my assumption is accurate and our purpose extended beyond personal growth, I wish Kevin had clarified this. The prevalence of a performance-driven mindset among fellow band leaders troubled me. While excellence in music is expected, it shouldn’t hinder band members’ musical growth. Encouraging experimentation and embracing imperfections is essential for growth. Some leaders prioritized musical perfection over nurturing the musicians themselves.

Reflecting on my part, I regret not being more intentional throughout the tour. I had hoped for a guitar-only set with my band, hindered by my lack of preparation in not having pre- printed music sheets. Additionally, I aimed to develop my vocal and guitar skills, but my reputation as a reliable bass player led to a different role. While honored, I desired to diversify the use of my skills.

Despite these concerns, I value the spiritual growth this opportunity provided. I gained insights into the fruits of the Spirit and developed a new connection with my Heavenly Father. The notion that “God is not a jerk,” as conveyed by Steven’s theology, resonated deeply. Love emerged as the binding force among people, evident through interactions at the nursery and Union Gospel Mission. True connection transcended music; it was rooted in God.

In conclusion, I appreciate the experience and its impact on my spiritual journey. While certain areas could have been more intentional, I recognize the overall significance of this endeavor.

Justin Perry…I learned a lot of things on our 6 week music experience. The first week was very overwhelming for me, so I chose to take my sweet time processing all the information that I was receiving rather than learning through my actions. It was that week when I began to critically think, make adult decisions, and listen rather than speak. It was a very important week, but a very rough week because I didn’t know what to do with myself and I never asked for help. The second week got better on all fronts, but I still found myself to be off-track and needing lots of external motivation. The coaching from the voice teacher and the advice given by the videographer were helpful in retrospect, and I have taken it to heart. The third week was where I grew the most. I had lots of music to learn, and I spent lots of time working hard on it. I learned to act on my thoughts, instead of regurgitating information until I drove myself crazy. The fourth and fifth week’s found me continuing to build up on everything I had learned in my thoughts and actions, as well as bonding more with the team. The last week was my favorite week, though. My only regret was not spending more time practicing. I had all my songs learned, but I needed to work hard, and I didn’t find myself doing that as much the last week. But the performances, the conversations, and the experiences were by far the most beautiful and emotional experiences I had on the trip, save the vespers at the Gospel Mission. By the end of the trip I was tired, but I still wanted to continue performing because that was and is my favorite part of music. I thought I would get depressed and extremely unmotivated after the trip, but I pulled my recording equipment out, went on long walks singing my favorite songs, and had some good conversations with God. I’m very thankful for the trip, and I’m excited to see how I’ll apply the knowledge I gained on the trip in my future life.

Ceona Church…When I first heard about the opportunity, I had a lot of anxiety about it. I knew I was going to go from the second I was told. I’ve been asking God for a challenge and I had been preparing myself for the challenge that I knew God would give.

The most important lesson that stuck out to me in my heart is first: understanding that you valued my presence and not necessarily for what I had to offer.

Speaking of what I have to offer, it is very little in the grand scheme of things. There were times during the trip I wondered why I was there because I was unable to contribute anything (either intellectually, technically or emotionally.) Upon reflection, God had a purpose to who was and wasn’t there:  I realized that I did contribute, I don’t I realize how I did and I may never know (at least until heaven) :).

I learned how to be a servant leader and I got to practice sending it, taking risks, succeeding, failing, being a goldfish and the hardest was taking the time to be vulnerable and trusting others.

The last most important lesson I learned, and pressed into my heart was the idea of intentional time for me that looked like investing into people.

Things to improve: Clearer communication overall, some rules didn’t make sense, sometimes long conversations went in circles, sometimes thought we were joking but then became serious and vice versa, blew up some issues up more than they needed to be.

In the grand scheme of how wonderful the trip was, these were minor, but it is something to think about. There were so many things I think you did right, they outweigh the small issues.

Things done right: Letting people rejuvenate in their own way, being less and less involved as the gigs went on, gentle conversations, you listened most of the time, giving space for us to connect with each other, days to rejuvenate, working out, spirit time, lessons learned, individual connection, bringing in other experts to share wisdom, forgiveness, and more forgiveness, among much more.

Thank You so so much Kevin for this amazing opportunity, it is forever imprinted on my heart and has impacted the direction of my life.

Ryan HughesI would like to reflect on the effect of my summer experience in three separate categories. First, Spiritually I saw a bit of a revival, or possible the beginnings of one. Reading through the Bible in order was new to me and put the whole story in a new light to me. The discussions and journaling caused me to face my questions, doubts, and concerns head on. This was productive and comforting. The spiritual impact was not limited to myself though. Through our church services I felt connections forming with others in the church. Specifically, in the last church we played the attendees seemed to be very blessed by our service. After that worship time, a woman close to my age came and thanked Micah and I with tears nearly forming in her eyes.

The next category is closely related as it is my emotional and relational impacts. Beyond the obvious connections with our touring team, there were a few very meaningful moments. The first was the last show we played for the council of aging. Seeing everyone move about and bringing life to them brought life to me. I witnessed first hand the power of talking to others in their own “language.” I would see this type of connection again to an extent at the Milton Freewater food truck gig. Certainly the most meaningful show connection was when we brought a bit of hope to the people in Spokane. I could see some of them resonate with the music so well.

The final category is less important but it is the physical influence of the trip on me. Beyond the sun burns and increased muscles, I have been doing much better about my sleep habits and my wake up time. I have made new connections that have changed me. I see things a little different, and nothing is as bad as it seems anymore.
Thank You so very much.

Zach GillilandOct 10.

I have erased and restarted this several times now. As time continues & my life & mindset grows, I see different effects of the impact tour had for me.

To start, clearly I was a piece of crap going into the trip. I’m clearly very pleased with who I am now. I’ve laid the groundwork for who I will become & I’m excited for it. I don’t say that to be cocky, but to be transparent. Over the course of last school year, I let myself go. I learned recently about a philosophy called “Hedonism” –This was exactly how I was. All my life I’ve been obsessed with success. I was also dealing with the idea purported to me to think that way & have those goals was selfish & not what God wanted.

Fortunately for me: I eventually began to realize that things were unlikely exactly the way I grew up believing. Unfortunately for me: This had a negative effect on my psyche.

I then slipped into Hedonism. The thought going into last school year was that–due to the health issues I’d been dealing with for the last several years–my life had kind of sucked. I decided to move into the dorm, enjoy life & have a fun year. This clearly sucked. I got depressed & felt everything slip away as I came to believe that life had no meaning.

This mentality was a result of believing my entire life that it was impossible for Atheists to be happy because their life had no deeper meaning. I don’t classify myself as an Atheist now, rather as somebody who is step-by-step re-evaluating their beliefs & determining which are fact based. Technically I guess I’m a temporary Agnostic.

Spring Quarter I realized that it did not matter what my beliefs were, I still needed to live the best life I could live. That’s when I started to turn things around. Coming into the Tour, I was barely on any part of the way to getting myself back. I was still a piece of crap. Tour was a culture shock. The way you were so blunt & direct with how I needed to change things was exactly what I needed.

The “10 minutes with Kevin” was the most valuable part of the trip for me. That’s something I believe should have been had every day (Schedule allowing).

I’m going to give a quick summary of the most aspects of Tour:

  • ●  10 Min W/ Kevin–Great for reflection & getting deep into understand life & myself
  • ●  Personal Reflection Time: This hour in the morning was 100% beneficial to me as it allowed me to have a dedicated hour where I wasn’t allowed to do anything but think. I’ve implemented a variant of that mentality since the Tour.
  • ●  Meeting quality musicians (You & Your Friends): This was great, as it allowed me to glimpse how their minds worked & how high-level people operate.
  • ●  Exercise: This was a necessity. We could never have been as productive without it.
  • ●  Taking time to think & chat with our band (Dinner): This is something I implemented this year in our first Vespers set (Last week). I chatted with Micah about this at the beginning of the year as we developed our philosophy around Music. The way that I think about music sets now is more oriented around the people. I got evidence that this worked last week. What I decided for this set (Micah & I alternate leadership–This first one was mine), was that I did not want this set to feel like a burden. Traditionally how music has worked on campus (especially vespers) is that musicians are contacted by leaders & they

show up as more of “instruments” than “people”. We did not want this to be the case. I took the band to dinner (& paid for it, a method I was taught by a Wizard). This was a required event–I had a member get mildly pissy with me about it & I told him I could find someone else. He came along & thanked me immensely afterward–it was great for all our mindsets. I kept all of the practice dynamics feeling more like it was a group of friends hanging out & even though I had to meet several people outside of group practice because they couldn’t make it (I f-ed up the schedule)–They came together seamlessly Friday Night @ SoundCheck. Soundcheck was the first time the whole band played through the songs together.

Nov 26.
Just finished Thanksgiving. Haven’t added to this in a while. For context, things have changed. I don’t have much to add to the actual reflection part. But since you’ve expressed interest in my life, I’ll tell you how things are going

Life has been going great recently. I managed to get my health almost fully under control, so the issues that I’ve been dealing with over the last 6 years are almost entirely gone.

I created a list of requirements that I follow every day that allows me to operate at my max capacity. I hit the gym 6 times a week & train Brazilian Jui Jitsu 4 times a week. I’ve found that I require at minimum 8.5 hours of sleep a night, and I give myself the opportunity for 9 every night. That’s a nonnegotiable that I implemented a month ago that has been a total game changer. My diet is also a nonnegotiable. I eat a strict diet that follows roughly the same pattern every day. No dairy or processed foods. I eat mainly rice, beans, chicken, fruit, vegetables, tortillas & sometimes homemade pancakes with fruit or maple syrup.


Following my arrogant personality, I believe that if I control all the variables in my life, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to ensure I feel perfect every day. Fortunately, that has been the case. I’m feeling at least 85% every day compared to the 35% that I averaged last year & the 65% that I averaged on tour. This number is steadily increasing, causing the numbers that I once believed to be my peak to be surpassed. Shocking how diet & exercise & sleep can make such a difference. It’s almost like every doctor since the dawn of my birth was right.

I did get called out for being too arrogant recently. It was an amusing situation, but I can tell you about that over the phone. It’s kind of funny because the version of myself that you saw on tour was a very mentally suppressed version & I think it would be funny to introduce you to the real me sometime we have the chance. If you asked someone on campus what I was like as a person, there would be a very different persona from the person you met on tour. I’m not going to pretend I’m not completely different. I don’t like who I was on tour simply because I was a bitch. My apologies for the language. We both know neither of us cares.

I have a tendency of not giving a crap what people think of me, which has been good as it allows me to be the person I believe I should & make the choices that I believe are most ethical even when those around me don’t.

I have also been true to myself & what I believe this year. I opened up to several people about my personal beliefs on religion & all of them responded in the way that you figured they would. You’ll be pleased to note that I still have all my jobs & reinforced my relationship with my friends. There are still key people that I have kept oblivious about this. That is my own decision, but I have not lied directly to anyone’s face about this. If they ask me a question, I will answer it.

I’m going to bed now. I have a lot of work to get done tomorrow. Looking forward to these next 2 weeks. I can’t stand break. I’ll always say that it was good, but the reality is that I freaking hate it & get depressed after a few days with nothing to do. I don’t really know what I’m going on vacation from. I have absolutely no complaints about my life. Everything that I ever wanted out of life I am on my way to getting & in comparison to how much life sucked last year & for most of the last few years, I’ve found myself deeply appreciating all of the simple things in life. I’m immensely satisfied with who I am & where I am at in life. Not because I’m perfect–I’m far from that–but because I can see my future from where I am. I think on large timescales & the person I see reflecting through my eyes isn’t the person staring back at me in the mirror, but the person who can truly see who I am becoming. I’m extremely excited & can’t wait to see the future. I enjoy watching myself grow every day. I truly love the process. There’s nothing better in life. Thank you for showing me on my way. I will fully take credit for the work that I have done, but I would be stupid to think that I would be anywhere near as happy right now if it wasn’t for you deciding to take a bullshitting piece of musician with you on tour. I cannot thank you enough for that. I know I was a formerly hedonistic piece of shit trying to stay confident while figuring out life. Thank you for helping me to figure things out. I cannot thank you enough.

3. Samantha’s Adventure Continues

Antarctic Fundraising Continues

I made my way back home to Olympia in the second week of August, with only about three months until my supposed departure to Antarctica. I spent a lot of time rejuvenating myself outside. In between nature-bathing sessions I worked to relaunch fundraising that had been put on the back burner to support the summer’s project. I sent letters to influential past employers who I thought would be interested in bolstering my continued edification, made phone calls to those with means within my extended network, and wrote a lot about the expedition to come. By the time northern summer came to a close, I had raised about half of the funds required for the program in Antarctica.

A large part of my fundraising campaign included gratitude to those that pitched in. My employer, Sound Native Plants, my favorite brew pub in Olympia, Headless Mumby, and a law firm that I worked for at multiple points during high school and college, Pabst, Holland, and Reynolds are among my Old Growth Giants, the business that have generously contributed to my mission to study in the Antarctic. If you would like to learn more about these companies making a difference, I invite you to peruse their profiles on my website If you belong to a group that would be interested in bolstering my work, please email me at Sa***********@gm***.com to begin a sponsorship conversation.


Moss Mondays — Antarctica Edition

One thing that I did to raise awareness of the amazing qualities of Antarctica was feature antarctic moss in my Moss Monday social media campaign. Antarctic mosses are incredibly resilient in their adaptations to both the harsh climate in Antarctica and the rapid change the continent is experiencing. The more the public understands about these adaptive strategies, the more they are able to consider resilient solutions to climate change in their own lives. You can find these posts on both Facebook and Instagram on @SamanthaElieBotanist accounts or using the hashtag #MossMonday.