226 Days, 5,424 Hours, and 18 Expeditions
Long-time Earthwatcher Pat McKay shares her story of how she has dedicated 226 days and 5,424 hours on 18 expeditions contributing to scientific research.
Long-time Earthwatcher Pat McKay.
Pat McKay is a long-time Earthwatcher. Since 1997 she has spent 226 days and 5,424 hours on 18 Earthwatch expeditions around the world. So what is it that keeps her coming back?
After a recommendation from a friend in the U.S. about Earthwatch’s archaeology expeditions, Pat joined the House of the Badlands expedition. which took her to the burial site of the Mogollon Indians in North America. “I loved the hands-on approach and was blown away by the involvement of the nearby tribes. Both tribes would be shown all the findings from the dig and then decide if they would hand them over to the museum or bring them back to the reservation. It was very unusual to have this consideration and something I admired. I saw firsthand that Earthwatch was about more than volunteering. It was about involvement for the greater good.”
This is an element Pat says she looks for when choosing an expedition. “Earthwatch is very conscious of its footprint and does more than just provide an experience; it reaches out to the local community and works with them directly to make changes. Without this relationship, many achievements would not be possible. This is something that most tour companies do not provide.”
Five years after her first expedition, Pat decided to try working with wildlife and joined the Costa Rican Sea Turtles expedition. She fondly remembers the enormous size of these turtles that weigh up to 200 kilograms and crawl up the beach to dig meter-deep holes for the hundreds of eggs they lay. Pat explains: “The scientists were really clever. They realized their efforts are best used elsewhere and worked with the local councils to target the poachers and offer them more than what they would earn from stealing eggs. They also helped give them the skills to run turtle tours.”
After these experiences, Pat was hooked and set about going on a different expedition every year. In fact, now that Pat has recently retired, she joined three expeditions in 2012 and is set to go on another three in 2013, including a return to her favorite expedition, Cheetah Conversation in Namibia.
Pat explains why she keeps returning: “This is one of the rare opportunities to be able to contribute in a small way that is helping the greater planet in a big way. It provides me with a sense of control, as I sometimes feel overwhelmed about the world and how quickly it is changing. Earthwatch, through their expeditions, provides me with the chance to get involved and make a difference in a way that feels achievable and very rewarding.”
We would like to thank Pat for sharing her story and for her dedication in supporting Earthwatch and our research expeditions.