B for Bears!

A journey to the international bear conference in Alaska, captured in a short documentary film

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This project received pledges on Mon 30 May 2016

Project summary

We are raising money to travel to Alaska, attend the International Bear Research and Management conference and create a short interview-based documentary about the scientists, their wildlife conservation stories and how each person can make a difference. I have a passion to share conservation stories and show others what amazing works people do around the world to preserve our ecosystems and the species that live in them. My work with European brown bears in Greece during my placement year laid the groundwork for my dissertation and also earned me an invitation to present my project at the 24th International Conference on Bear Research and Management in Alaska this summer (12-16th of June) (http://www.cvent.com/events/24th-international-conference-on-bear-research-and-management/event-summary-0536820866ca4e26a375fba0375d8e2b.aspx). It is so rare for an undergraduate to be invited to an international conference that there are no funding schemes to help cover my costs for the conference. But you don't get a chance to meet your heroes every day, so must try anyway!  

And more than anything, I would like to document this journey and share the insights of our top conservationists with people around the world who are interested in wildlife and preserving the wild places that surround them. I also feel this could be a great way to promote the necessity of conservation to young people and perhaps guide them towards a career in preserving our most important habitats.


My story

Although this project will be about other peoples' stories, here is a little intro to mine:
I am a 25 year old Conservation Biology student with a mad love for all things wild, furry and with sharp canines! I come from a tiny little village in northern Greece called Panagitsa. During my placement year I spent 7 months hiking up and down a mountain looking for European brown bear tracks and signs (yes, there are bears in Greece, not just sandy beaches and feta). Bears are an amazing example of umbrella species: the ecosystems they inhabit host an amazing array of other species that live alongside them and by protecting bears, we can protect vast amounts of diverse lands. I have dedicated my time to protecting bears and learning how humans and bears can co-exist. I learned that wildlife conservation goes hand in hand with community work. As our first step in that direction, a group of four young people (my bother and sister, myself and our friend Bert) created a youth centre in the village called 'The Children's Orchard'. A place were children can learn an array of practical things, from how to cook a spinach pie, traditional Greek grandma style, to how to produce organic vegetables in a small garden. More than anything, it is a place for children and young people to socialise in a healthy environment, be inspired and learn about living with nature in a more sustainable way. These are the young people I would like to show this documentary to the most and the scientists I will interview in Alaska are the kind of heroes I think modern children should be looking up to!

Myself and my technician (another member of the Children's Orchard team), Bert (media MSc) form a tiny little documentary team. We are ready to embark on our new adventure and meet the top scientists in the field of bear research and management. The 'bear celebrities' as I like to call them.


Where will the money go? 

Minimum target (=£495):

  • this minimum target will cover the conference costs for the team (two of us) - we both need to be able to attend in order to do the interviews! The conference fees are: £155 (student with membership: me) and £340 (adult + membership: technician). Total £495!

Other costs (full target = £2545):

  • Flights: £800 per person (x2= £1600 total)
  • Accommodation (6-20/6): we are going to treat ourselves to a 2 person tent on Ship Creek RV park in Anchorage for 14 nights (£300) - go cheap or go home!
  • Rental car for two days (£150) to get some footage of Alaska's wild places (Denali National Park & Reserve and Chugach National Forest) 
  • Total £495 (conference fees) + £2050 (additional costs) = £2545

If things really take off and we raise more money than the maximum target, we will combine our accommodation and transport so that we can get some extra-amazing footage for the documentary from Alaska's incredible wild places. Instead of pitching a tent and getting a rental car (-£450), we will rent a motorhome and use it as our base! It will cost about £1100 for 14 days (renting and running costs) - Alaska is very expensive in the summer... 



Updates:

We will update on the progress of the conference every day on our twitter page, possibly giving a short descriptions after each presentation. We have also designed a blog for the purposes of this project and we will keep it alive throughout the process! We will give daily updates on the interviews and general Alaskan adventures every time we get the chance. We cannot guaranty wifi in the middle of Denali National Park, but we will make sure to upload some cool pictures every couple of days! If we don't, assume that we are in the belly of a grizzly...



What's in it for you, eh?

We are extremely grateful for every bit of support. But apart from our sincere gratitude, we would love to be able to return a little portion of the love! Here is a short description, but look on the right for more detail!

  • There will be gifts for donations starting from £5!
  • The largest gift will be for a £250 donation. 
  • For anything more than than, we will forever be in dept... Please feel free to ask us for any of the other gifts, or something else you would like us to bring you back from Alaska. 
  • All donations, however big or small, will receive a thank you email and our deep gratitude for helping us go to Alaska and meet our heroes. Bear hugs to you all!


Spy on me and the team preparations here: 

Blog: https://bforbears.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angeliki.savvantoglou

Twitter: https://twitter.com/savvantoglou

Follow us and get updates on our progress and adventures! 

Also, follow our activities at the youth centre, the Children's Orchard: https://www.facebook.com/spiresporo/

Help us get there!

We need as much help as we can get! You don't need to give money to help us succeed! Please talk about this project with anyone you think would support us – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence or on your blog. Can you think of anyone that would be interested? Please share shamelessly! And if you can spare it, we would really appreciate your donations! Please sponsor us and help make this happen.

1 year, 1 month ago

We are in Alaska!!

Check out our updates here:

https://bforbears.wordpress.com/posts/

Thank you all so much! And don't forget to email us your address if you have asked for something that requires shipping! I have the addresses for some of you, but I am missing quite a few. 

And if you feel like it, share our blog :)


We are so happy!!!

Angeliki and Bert


1 year, 2 months ago

Dear friends,

I had to take a few hours to digest this (and faint multiple times) - our project achieved its funding target! Aaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

***small break to do a little dance***


We cannot believe it!! Thanks to all of you, we are now be able to go to Alaska and do all those things (and maybe more) we planned for the conference and the short documentary! Please subscribe on our blog and we'll keep you posted every step of the way. 

***bigger break for more dance and a bit of singing ("look for the beeeear necessities...")***


It all started with me wanting to present my dissertation at the International Conference on Bear Research and Management - to people who've dedicated their whole career on bears. 

Then I got accepted and I realised that Alaska was a real possibility! I was so happy..



Some of you know more about my story than others, but you can all understand that a young person that is just about to finish her degree doesn't exactly have funds for international travels and conference fees readily available..

So I was very much like this:

   

But I soon got over myself and decided to look everywhere for grants and other funding possibilities. Unfortunatelly, there were no available grants for undergraduates. They are all targeting masters and PhD researchers as it is very uncommon for an undergraduate to get invited to such a conference. I was so frustrated!

 

And then a few kind people guided us and helped us run a crowdfunding campaign. At the beginning we had our doubts...


But we thought we'd give it a go. Bert and I designed this project with passion and care. We tried to make it not about us but about the joy of being a wildlife conservationist and about the amazing creatures bears are. And the sat back and waited...

And you made it happen!


We like to think that we got the incredible support that we did because people love wild things and wild places and want to see them thrive. This sends a very powerful message. We will take it with us to Alaska and use it as our main inspiration for the documentary.

We are so grateful. 


The campaign will run until the deadline (30th of May), so keep sharing and talking about our project with your friends! We are using this platform to promote our blog and little film, so it would be great if we got the word out. And if anyone wants to donate, that's also fine!


Thank you for making it possible, 

Angeliki and Bert



1 year, 2 months ago

Our dear friends, 

Everything is going so well! We are so excited and grateful to receive such an amazing support. 

We are working hard to get everything together for our trip. We are leaving on the 3rd of June and will be keeping you posted throughout the journey - keep checking our blog for updates!

This would be the time for those of you who asked for rewards that require shipping to email us your address on stargazer1106@gmail.com. 

Thank you so much! 

Big, big love, 

Angeliki and Bert


1 year, 2 months ago

Dear friends, our campaign has now reached its minimum target!! This means that whatever goes into the campaign now will reach us and be used towards our journey, conference and film costs. We cannot believe our eyes! There is still long way to go to cover our costs, but what an amazing start!! Thank you so much for the support! 
We are eternally grateful.

Share share share 

Hurrahhhhh!!

For our Greek friends:


Καλοί μας φίλοι, η καμπάνια μας έφτασε το μίνιμουμ ποσό! Αυτό σημαίνει ότι από εδώ και πέρα ότι μπαίνει στον λογαριαμό είναι εγγυημένο να έρθει σε εμάς και να χρησιμοποιηθεί για το ταξίδι, το συνέδριο και το μινι-δοκυμαντέρ μας στην Αλάσκα! Δεν μπορούμε να το πιστέψουμε. Έχουμε δρόμο ακόμα για να καλύψουμε το κόστος του ταξιδιού, αλλά τι καλή αρχή!! Ευχαριστούμε πάρα πολύ για την υποστήριξη και συνεχίστε να το μοιράζεστε με όσους νομίζετε ότι θα τους ενδιαφέρει!

Θα είμαστε αιώνια ευγνώμονες! 
Γιουπιιιιιι


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