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May 2010 Newsletter
I want to highlight a few recurring newsletter features. The "main" section always challenges you and your kids/students to "do" geography. Throughout 2010, we'll also have a special monthly section leading up to Geography Awareness Week: Freshwater. Last but not least, have you taken our Reader Poll? This month we ask, "How many days in April did you spend one hour or more outside?" My answer: only 17 days, but highlights included biking to work (twice!), an Easter egg hunt with my family, and being outside on a "Green Friday" (to reduce our organizational effect on the environment, National Geographic is closed some Fridays). How about you?
Christopher Shearer, My Wonderful World (MWW) Director
Map Your Outdoor Adventure
Geography Awareness Week logoHave you ever noticed that the world looks a bit different when you're moving at a slower pace? We bet you'll discover a whole new range of sights and sounds when walking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, or canoeing through your local landscape, versus experiencing it from the window of a speeding car. This month, we challenge you to go on an outdoor adventure to get up close and personal with the geography of your area.

First, work as a family to create mental maps of the area you'll be exploring. Then, find a professionally produced map of the area (trail map, topographic map, bike-route map, etc.), and compare it to your mental map. Which elements of the landscape did you include? Which did you leave out? Go off adventuring, and when you get back, update both maps with references from your family's experience outdoors.

Check out this lesson from the "Compass Dude" on Topo Map Skills and this article, Mapping Middle Childhood, from the Appalachian Mountain Club for more help making maps; and find tons of additional resources, such as the TOPO! Explorer software package, on the MWW blog. Happy trails!
Read more >
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Reader Poll
Editor's Pick
Mission Explore
Outward Bound wilderness expeditions pledge to guide you on the first step of a journey that will continue for the rest of your life. Climb a mountain. Explore the woods. Paddle a whitewater river. Sail the ocean. This month we say, "Accept the challenge!"
Take Action
National Environmental Education Week logoHorses in North Philly
Picture this scenario: You're driving down a busy thoroughfare in a major city and you spot an urban youth sporting a baseball cap, baggy jeans, and high-top sneakers. Now imagine that the young person is riding toward you on a mustang—horse, that is.

You just might encounter this scene if you're traveling through North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club is a community-outreach program for the prevention of crime through equestrian activities and mentoring. Sound like a newfangled approach to connecting city kids with nature and responsibility? In fact, the Fletcher Club has been successfully serving Philadelphia residents—primarily African-American boys—for more than 100 years. And the phenomenon is not unique to the City of Brotherly Love; similar city stables exist in other parts of the world, most notably in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The Fletcher Club recently gained national attention after it was profiled on the public radio broadcast, This American Life. Watch a trailer for the program, and read this article to learn more about the history of this apparent geographic anomaly.
  Read more >
Take Action
World Water Day logoHoly Eyjafjallaökull!
The recent eruption of the Eyjafjallaökull volcano in Iceland proved once again—as if we needed a reminder—that Mother Nature can have a dramatic effect on our day-to-day lives. The eruption and the ash cloud that continues to form from the volcanic crater delayed plane flights and, as a result, travel plans, economic activities, and even weddings of people across the globe.

Many people have had strong sentiments about the delays they were unable to control. Airline companies and some travelers were agitated by the interruption to their schedules; others gladly took advantage of the opportunity for an extended vacation. For some Icelandic citizens, the opportunity to witness such an impressive geologic event was a welcome distraction from the nation's economic woes—at least temporarily.

The volcano has elicited emotions on all ends of the spectrum; it will be interesting to see whether there are any long-term effects on the attitudes—and travel plans—of people in Iceland, mainland Europe, and beyond. What other human-environment interactions have been in the news lately? How much and for how long will they affect their regions?

Tell us your thoughts on the blog!
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Take Action
Where Next?
Our pick for a blog to check out this month is National Geographic Adventure. The blog serves up information on exciting trips, exotic destinations, and general adventure "intelligence."

Surf on over for reviews of gear and gadgets such as Quicksilver's heated wetsuit vest and the iPhone's A-GPS app. Follow an adventurer as he skis, hikes, and rafts 4,720 miles through eight national parks, two major mountain ranges, and some of North America's wildest rivers in Alaska and the Yukon. Read about biking in India and camel trekking in Syria. You'll even find an interview with Jean Higgins, the executive producer of the television series Lost, revealing secrets, stunts, and travel tips from filming on location in Oahu, Hawaii. If you're looking for inspiration for your next adventure and the best products and know-how to get there, look no further than National Geographic Adventure!
  Read more >
Hot This Month
National Geographic Bee Finals
Flo logoThe national level of the National Geographic Bee will be held in Washington, D.C., May 25–26. Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek will moderate the finals, which will air on the National Geographic Channel at 6 p.m. on May 26 and later on public television stations. Fifty-four students in grades five through eight will represent each of the U.S. states, territories, and Department of Defense Dependents Schools. Visit the Bee website to see a list of the 2010 state champions who will be competing.
AAG Careers Guide
Thatcher Award logoThis month and next, millions of students will graduate from high schools and colleges and universities around the country. Will they be prepared to participate in a global economy? Are they aware of the many geographic careers available to them? The Association of American Geographers' Career Guide is an indispensable resource for learning about a wide range of geography jobs—and landing one!
May Days of Recognition
Thatcher Award logoMay is a month when we recognize many of the people who have made great sacrifices for their families and for their country. Did you know that Mother's Day is celebrated on different days—and in distinct ways—in cultures and countries around the world? Please also remember to honor military men and women on Memorial and Armed Forces Days, and to celebrate educators during Teacher Appreciation Week. We suggest a donation to DonorsChoose.org or a gift from the National Geographic store.
May Is Bike Month
Thatcher Award logoCheck out all the two-wheeled goodness at the League of American Bicyclists website this month. Bike to work on May 21, enroll in a smart-cycling course, support new bicycle legislation, download a step-by-step Bike Month planning guide, and find even more events near you across the United States and Canada.
Leave No Trace
Bizarre Map Challenge logoRemember to leave no trace (LNT) as you venture into the wilderness—that means carrying out all the garbage you cart in, leaving animals and artifacts where you found them, staying on marked trails, and more. The LNT Center for Outdoor Ethics offers a wealth of resources for mastering LNT principles. Then, consider taking the next step to help conserve and maintain trails and wilderness areas through Backdoor Jobs.
Virtual Water
Written in Water cover art
You might be surprised at how much water it takes to bring a hamburger to your plate or to make your favorite T-shirt. See how your choices add up with this cool online interactive.
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