Bumping along on what seemed like a barren, snowless tundra, eyes peeled for wandering bears, I thought often of my two young sons (ages 2 and 3). In the weeks leading up to the trip, my three-year-old would ask, almost daily, if he could join me to see the bears, his pleadings steadfast and his logic sound: “but Mommy, I’ve never seen polar bears in the wild!”
As I looked around the tundra with great anticipation, my own excitement was tempered by the fear that my children may never have a chance to see polar bears in their natural habitat.
Having worked at WWF for seven years, I was honored to have the chance to see WWF’s conservation work first-hand, along with members of our Legacy Circle, individuals who have included WWF in their estate plans. The trip’s participants hailed from all over the US, so I was struck by what seemed to be instant bonds made on our first night as we went around the table and talked about why we were there. This was a group that was passionate, no doubt, but also incredibly knowledgeable and engaged with the issues impacting the Arctic.
The tundra buggy served as our classroom, and our downtime was spent reviewing maps and peppering our expert guides, Peter Ewins of WWF-Canada and Elise Lockton of Natural Habitat Adventures, with questions. Pete Ewins, as it turns out, happens to be an incredible musician in addition to seasoned scientist, and many evenings were spent writing songs about our adventures.
On our third and final day on the tundra, we saw the bear that captivated us all: “Luke Sky-pointer.” I’d like to believe he is the most charismatic bear on earth. We sat for hours, watching him lumber around and ham it up for our many cameras. Luke Sky-Pointer’s charm kept us entranced for most of the day, and his antics helped inspire a title for our working song.
The future for polar bears is bleak, which is concerning in and of itself. But, the changing climate threatens not just polar bears, but the Arctic and other entire ecosystems—and humanity itself. By traveling to see the wonder of the Artic in person, my passion for protecting this special place and its remarkable wildlife only grew.
My personal legacy will indeed be the commitment I have for WWF, my home away from home for the last seven years, and devoting my time and resources to continue fighting for these beloved endangered species. During our Arctic journey, I was so encouraged to be among other like-minded people and I take comfort in knowing we are all seeking solutions to make the world a better place. The feeling of experiencing the closeness of a young polar bear, stretching on your tundra buggy, is something I have a hard time putting into words. That’s why travel, especially travel with people from the Legacy Circle, part of my WWF family, is the ultimate bonding experience.
Upon returning from my trip, my sons listened to my stories and viewed my pictures with their eyes wide. This incredible trip helped solidify the part of my legacy that I want to live on in my children. My husband and I will raise them to be stewards of the land, cognizant of the fine balance of our treasured ecosystems from our backyard to the far-away Arctic.
By Ariana Bowman, Development Officer, WWF
Every journey with WWF offers a unique opportunity to not only travel to exotic locations and learn about its wildlife, but also to connect and bond with other members of WWF’s Legacy Circle. Interested in joining us on our next expedition? The next Legacy Circle Expedition will journey through the Mekong by riverboat. Visit our website to learn more about this trip. If you have questions or would like to book the trip, please contact Karl Egloff at 1-202-495-119 or [email protected]