William Roche’s Diary
Mountain Waters of the Czech Republic

June 13, 2009: Signoff -- make an impact!
June 11, 2009: Christmas every day
June 8, 2009: Fragile art, fragile nature
June 6: Water samples and calligraphy
June 4, 2009: Habitat restoration, Alcoa style
June 2, 2009: Data from a chilly mountainside
May 31, 2009: In the Field at Last
May 29, 2009 -- Aha! I'm in Praha!
May 25, 2009: Have a Safe Trip
May 20, 2009: Going fishing?
May 11, 2009: Dr. Ziggy
April 2009: Preparations
January 2009: Applying, or actually RE applying
June 12, 2009: Last night in Praha
June 10, 2009: How to survey a tree
June 7, 2009: Sightseeing
June 5, 2009: Back to the beginning
June 3, 2009: Forest and water readings
June 1, 2009: Sampling the Waters -- and the History
May 30, 2009: Czech, Please
May 28, 2009: This is it!
May 22, 2009: Czech-ing Up
May 14, 2009: Water Issues at Home and Abroad
May 7, 2009: Josef Krecek, Our Expedition's "Green Hero"
March 19: I Get an Answer

June 13, 2009: Signoff -- make an impact!

Karlštejn This is my final diary entry.* I meet Josef and Cathy in the morning and we visit a couple of Praha landmarks, Castle Karlštejn and the Gothic Jindrisska Tower. Eventually, It's time for a coffee, a final talk and our final goodbyes. 
As I leave Cathy and Josef, I ponder the last two weeks. I think about Josef's discussions and debriefs with the team on Czech environmental issues. I realise that issues I would have once considered as local or national issues are in fact problems that have the potential to eventually adversely affect Europe, and impact globally. I realise that one individual can in fact make a big difference. While Mother Nature is resilient she desperately needs our help. Problems often remain undetected as people fail to see or understand the symptoms of the disease. 

I am grateful that the Alcoa Earthwatch fellowship program has helped me understand that scientific research will identify and quantify issues, and enable decision makers to formulate policy based on knowledge. I also consider how I will continue to make a difference supporting the Alcoa environmental initiatives such as “Make an Impact” when I return home to Australia.

*(Quick hi and thanks to Daniel Frank and Charles Soord for their helpful advice at the start of this expedition.)

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June 12, 2009: Last night in Praha

Will and josef on stroll river2 We have breakfast at the Charles University’s student hostel and all head off to explore. In the early evening we all meet again at King Charles statue. Josef has purchased tram tickets for us all so we travel to a restaurant for the farewell party. The atmosphere is both excited and a little sad as it is near the end of the adventure. Josef thanks us for our efforts on the expedition. Our good team work and attention to detail has greatly helped his research. We have achieved a lot in such short time. 
Dancing house Mountains are fragile ecosystems, sensitive to changes in the environment. While they exist remotely from sources of pollution, atmospheric pollution such as acid rain or sulphate can have a significant impact on headwaters, trees and soils. Our work contributes to research that will help shape future policy. All too soon it is time to leave. We stroll alongside the Vltava River. Prague at night is both vibrant and mysterious. Josef points out the local sights such as the funky looking “Dancing house” and the prestigious National Theatre. Finally it is time to part, we all bid fond farewell.

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June 11, 2009: Christmas every day

This is our last day at the pension. As usual, a delightful breakfast of various cold meats, eggs, cheeses, and wholemeal bread is presented. Again our hosts continually check and replenish the plates during the meal. As others head for the van, I decide to grab one last coffee. They insist on making me more fresh coffee before I leave. I decide to relax and enjoy their hospitality. I am on time so I doubt the team will be held up. The coffee is excellent. 
Hand made xmas decorations 11 june All is well as we head off to visit a couple of glass factories. One of these makes glass Christmas tree decorations and are we guided through the entire process. I am amazed to see that these decorations are actually handmade all year round! It is truly a place where it is Christmas every day! I have the opportunity to heat a glass rod, and to blow it into something resembling a glass ball decoration. I am quite proud of my efforts. However there are no offers of gainful employment as I leave. The retail outlet has many delicate and interesting decorations. I purchase only a few items as they are quite fragile as I am not confident I can get them back to Australia safely. 

Majestic staircase national museum 30 may Eventually we return back to the pension. I finalize all data entries and begin transferring files to Josef’s computer. Josef then begins the final debrief. He uses a Q&A process to test our understanding of the past two weeks. There is much to talk about. I think about what a fantastic trip it has been. We pack up, and bid a fond farewell to our hosts at the Statek U Rajtru accommodation. Then it is the last meal at the local Hospoda and we depart for the Charles University’s student hostel (Kolej Komenskeho) near Prague Castle. There are only a couple of more days and We have a farewell party planned for tomorrow night.

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June 10, 2009: How to survey a tree

It is a promising dry, cold and sunny day. We re-form into different teams. Some are checking rain gauges and stream discharges near Josefuv Dul dam. On the upper slopes, Petr, Martha, Rachael, Russ Anastasia and I begin work. We break up into pairs and begin work on the tasks: 
  • Carefully measure out and create a new 30 sq m square plot.
  • Quickly number the trees with chalk.
  • Paint the numbers onto the trees and indicate the circumference point.
  • Take tree circumference.
  • Take soil readings using a probe (Moisterure and pH).
  • Take a range of measurements to estimate the tree height.
  • Take canopy readings, and so on. 
Will forest survey 10 June We are now very proficient at this work and finish ahead of schedule. This allows us a short pleasant walk to the next rendezvous point. 

Later we visit the ruins of a glass making factory. There is a small interpretive centre describing the factory and indeed the flourishing community that once existed there. I am very interested to hear that the world famous glassware family, Riedel, built and successfully operated this factory. Unfortunately the factory burned down and the business was relocated many years ago. 

Later, our meal at the restaurant is fish and potatoes followed by sweet dumplings. It is a short walk back to the accommodation across the luscious grassy hill slopes. Most of us take this opportunity to have a stroll and enjoy the scenery. Bedrichov village is a ski resort in winter. I wander past the silent ski lifts, and wonder what the village must be like in winter. I pause to look back across the valley and reflect. We are on the last remaining days of our expedition. We need to complete all data entries by tomorrow evening before we pack up and return to Prague. It has been an extraordinary journey, where I have met incredible people and learnt many things.

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June 8, 2009: Fragile art, fragile nature

We pick up one of our team leaders, Petr, who has returned from Prague. On the way to the mountain we have an opportunity to visit a local Bohemian Glass Factory outlet. After careful consideration I purchase a vase. It is quite fragile and some express concerns that I will ever get it back to Australia in one piece. As we drive towards Jizerske Hory Mountain, I too begin to have some doubts! 
Skeletal remains Norway spruce trees 8-1 We arrive, quickly unpack the research equipment and form into teams. It is a clear dry day, there are no clouds in the sky and the views are spectacular. We are conducting a survey of forest characteristics: species, height, circumference and so on. Again, as we head up the mountain, we pass the skeletal remains of Norway spruce trees, a sad reminder of the significant pollution which enveloped this area in the late 1980s. However, due to political, technological and economic improvements the forests and headwaters have greatly recovered since the 1990s. This area is in process of rejuvenation. 

By afternoon the rains begin in earnest. We have completed the survey down the mountainside and reach the forest road. Our good friend Dobro who is driving the van arrives and picks us up. We enjoy a meat goulash dish at the restaurant. After the evening debrief, Ryan presents on dune erosion around the shores of Lake Michigan near his home in the USA.

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June 7, 2009: Sightseeing

Czech_Jun_7_Roche Recreational day! We saddle up (jump into the minivan) and travel west to visit Lembark Chateau. This was originally a gothic castle, and is quite an amazing structure. Then we move onto Liberec, shopping, and the national museum, botanical gardens and zoo. It is a full day, finished with a wholesome main meal of deep fried cheese with tartar sauce! It has been a great day and I retire late. 
(Note: Before I left Australia, Kwinana Central Mechanical Maintenance Shift 2 have pledged to conduct more STEP (safety) observations if I mention them on the blog! Gunnar, and Ken, I looking forward to seeing the most positive results!)

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June 6: Water samples and calligraphy

Keep it steady - 6 june A short trip to Bedrichov reservoir, and again we break up into teams. It is a cold, dry, sunny day but Josef says that it will rain heavily in the afternoon. We focus on the tasks at hand in order to complete as much as possible before the rains begin. Josef, Anastasia and I constitute one team and we load up a small boat. The life jacket provides extra insulation and warmth. Josef explains that as this is a drinking water reservoir, we must follow environmental policy and use oars rather than powered methods. I am more than happy to row out into the middle of the reservoir. Josef and Anastasia take samples and readings and I use the oars to try and hold the boat steady in the same area. The work involves taking depth, pH, temperature and visibility readings. We also take water samples from various depths to create a profile. I swap with Anastasia and she rows back to shore. The team reassembles and we return to the village. 
That evening we complete data entries, sort and analyze samples. As forecast, heavy rains and winds whip around the building. Our hosts cheerfully cook a huge platter of traditional Czech sausage meats on a BBQ. It is delicious! Afterwards Misae Tanaka, a lady from Japan, gave us a presentation on an Irish historical illuminated manuscript called "The Book of Kells” from 800 AD. She has painstakingly researched this book and, using the most traditional methods, she has carefully reproduced 22 pages of this fine art. It is an most extraordinary achievement and I feel very privileged to have met her.

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June 5, 2009: Back to the beginning

Roche_station We return to the area we visited on the first day of the expedition and climb further up the mountain. It’s a dry sunny day but I do feel the cold. On the high slopes we inspect the next sample site. We retrieve rainwater samples from the gauging station situated there. It is a process of checking water sample levels, cleaning and filling sample bottles, replacing or repairing damaged gauges and carefully recording the data. Another team sets up a plot boundary to evaluate the density of the forest canopy. At lunch time we break and have a nourishing sandwich filled with meats and cheeses, finished off with a chocolate bar. It is very peaceful to sit back and listen to the birds chirping overhead and the light breeze rustling the trees. 
We descend the mountain and travel to visit a forester who helps to manage this area. He discusses what it is like to work in the forest and the general strategies of replanting and logging. During the questions and answers he enquires about the forests strategies of Australia. I briefly mention the historical effects of forest clearing in Western Australia for agricultural purposes. This has allowed mineral salts to rise to the ground surface causing salinity. I also use the opportunity to discuss how Alcoa in Western Australia each year gives each employee two native Australians seedlings to plant in their own garden or local area.  
We finally bid farewell and move further into the forest, where we drop one team to conduct further forest sampling while we return to the stream gauging station. We complete the repairs to the structure, work that is very satisfying. The evening meal! Our Czech restaurant hosts proudly present us with a traditional “Fat” meal. It is very filling and belt buckles are dutifully released again by another notch! After the evening debrief we have a mini celebration as it is Dobro’s name day. 

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June 4, 2009: Habitat restoration, Alcoa style

Josef monitors the adverse weather. He quietly explains that it is best that we work at the Pension (Czech for our accommodation) today and sort samples (includes tweezers work) and record and complete data entry. I must admit that there are some groans about the tedious work ahead (me included). However we soon learn how to identify and separate samples quickly, and the mood improves. By evening we are very proficient and out of work ... it's all done! 
As part of the routine evening debrief, Josef invites us to make a presentation about our background. I am first up and talk about my life in Australia and Alcoa. I show a mixture of photos, videos, and text (thanks to Rod Mapstone, Alcoa Kwinana Communications, for assisting me to prepare this prior to my trip). I highlight the environmental rehabilitation program in our Alcoa mining area. I answer as many questions as possible. The question of what works best: replanting introduced or local species, is a big one. I don't have a precise answer. I do say that from my personal experience and perspective, the mining environmental team are a bunch of people who are passionate about what they do and I will enquire and email the answer. I briefly mention the Kwinana Technology Development Group (TDG) and am pleasantly surprised with questions about this group's global work and current projects. We have a competition at the end and all win prizes. Another long day finishes well and bed is most welcome.

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June 3, 2009: Forest and water readings

Roche_on_the_mountain We spend the day working at a local water reservoir. It is about 6 degrees C and very windy. We take a short tour deep inside the dam wall. Afterwards, our team works on the slopes, taking forest stand readings including tree heights, canopy cover and soil readings. It is a good day and we finish ahead of schedule. The main meal is a goulash soup and sweet dumplings! Later Josef arranges to take us to an opera in a nearby city. It’s a spectacular event and everybody really enjoys the experience. Tomorrow is data input day.
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June 2, 2009: Data from a chilly mountainside

Breakfast - great food and coffee. Our hosts check on us to ensure the plates are replenished and that we want for nothing. We pile into the van and head to another area. The scenery is spectacular. We park in a small mountain village and once again break up into teams. Russ, Anastasia, Miesa and I are led by Josef and we begin climbing the mountain. The weather is dry but cold. I have two heavy tee shirts, woolly scarf, a pullover and occasionally two jackets. I am grateful for each one! The ground is uneven and long grass covers holes and depressions. Josef cautions us to take our time and to watch our step. We reach the first sample point and begin work.
Once again we work slowly and build up an increasing rhythm over the coming hours. Lunch is a filling sandwich and chocolate bar. Eventually we reach a spot where we move across the mountain. We can now see the Polish border in the distance. We continue to sample at predefined spots and the work is conducted smoothly: find and identify the sample point, place the gauge on the ground, take flora samples - bag them, take a soil sample - bag it, take moisture and pH readings, check that the data is recorded correctly, and move to the next point.
At evening’s end we come off the mountain at the opposite side of the village. We go to the restaurant for soup and a pork dish. Petr gives a presentation on environmental modeling.

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June 1, 2009: Sampling the Waters -- and the History

Dobre Den! (Good day) 
I get up at 7 am, shower and prepare for the day's activities ahead. I sit in the lounge area and begin typing on my laptop. I feel better but I have a relentless and annoying rasping cough. The morning sunshine pours through the skylight and the fresh wholesome aroma from the timber floors and walls is quite refreshing and quickly lift my spirits. The quietness of the countryside is a welcome contrast from the bustle of airline travel, stopovers, long waits and further travel. Breakfast consists of cereals, cold meats, cheese, eggs, and great coffee. Josef checks to see how I slept and if I feel any better. I explain I am in good form, save for the cough, and do not see any problem for the day ahead. I assure him that I will advise him of any changes or if I feel unwell. We pack up the minivan with our equipment, grab a packed lunch and head for the mountains. There is a quick stop at Liberec city and then onto the expedition site. We break up into teams. Cathy, Ryan, Russ and I are led by Petr. Our work involves taking water samples along a mountain stream. The work starts off easy enough. However, the intensity soon increases and we build up a rhythm to help us complete the work. The ground becomes uneven and it is easy to slide from the embankment into the chilly water. We check oxygen and ph levels, water flows and take water samples for further analysis. Data must be rechecked to ensure it is correct. We encounter a series of abandoned military bunkers built in the 1930's on the slopes of the mountain. We take a break and carefully investigate the interior of one. It is a formidable structure modeled on the French Maginot line design and would have housed five soldiers. Dobre would later explain that the Czech design was much cleverer due to the careful thought behind the positioning of each individual bunker. These bunkers are now occasionally used by hunters and mountain walkers. We break for lunch and then form into new teams. Our job is to now take readings from a monitoring station and clean the area of debris deposited by the winter snows. By evening we complete the work and plan to return and repair the seasonal damage to the structure over the next few days. We finally pile into the van, return to Bedrichov and head to the local restaurant. The weather is quite cold so a filling meal of beef soup and a wholesome chicken dish is very welcome. We head back to the accommodation and to the evening briefing. Josef discusses what we have achieved and thanks us for our efforts. He then briefs us on the next day's work programme. The mood is cheerful and it's soon time to hit the sack and blissful sleep.

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May 31, 2009: In the Field at Last

I had a restless night due to my head cold, now becoming an irritating chesty cough. We have breakfast at the university hostel. The team all head out to explore the nearby Praha Castle. I chose to take it easy and prepare for the expedition. After a while I decide to seek a pharmacy or drug store just to try to get some more head cold medications. It is a fruitless endeavour. I encounter stores that contains little more than packets of tissues and cough sweets. I purchase these as a last resort. Back at the hostel I now delve into the Travel Doctor Medical kit, read the enclosed information and begin a course of tablets. 
 At 11:50 we all assemble in the lobby. We meet our Czech teammates: Dobre who will be our logistical and technical support, and team leader Petr who is completing his PhD. Anastasia (Alcoa Earthwatch Russia) has also arrived. The crew is now fully assembled. We pile into a minivan and head off to the mountains. We stop at a delightful little restaurant on the way. We enjoy hot soup and tasty meat dishes complete with dumplings. We have a quick stop to investigate the ruins of a medieval castle, then on to the mountain village of Bedrichov and Satek "U Rajtru," our home for the next two weeks. It is a beautiful building and cozy accommodation. Another typical Czech meal at a delightful local restaurant that night, complete with Pivo. Later Josef briefs us on the work that is planned for the next day. It's been a long day, and by ten o'clock everyone has retired for the night.

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May 30, 2009: Czech, Please

I rise at 8:30 am. On this occasion I have beaten the jet lag, as I don't feel at all sleepy. But there is another problem. Before I left Australia I had a slight head cold and as a precaution, I visited a doctor. As the symptoms were quite minor there was little to be done and he indicated that it should pass. However since travelling and encountering different temperatures I am starting to experience some discomfort and I feel a sore throat coming on. 
I go for breakfast and I use a few words of Czech to greet the waitress and ask for a menu. She smiles and talks to me in Czech! I indicate "slow," and say that my Czech is not much! All is well as she cheerfully speaks to me in clear English. 

It is still raining hard outside. By mid morning the weather has improved and I venture into the city. I spend an enjoyable couple of hours visiting the national museum, exploring Wenceslas Square and spending time inside the shopping plazas of Na Prikope. Soon it is time to go to the rendezvous point. I meet Ryan (Alcoa Earthwatch USA) for the first time. He helps me book into my room at the hostel. I also meet Russ, Rachel, Martha (USA students) Cathy (USA volunteer) and Miesa (Japan). We meet Josef Krecek, the Earthwatch Principal Investigator in the Czech Republic. He is a quiet, courteous gentleman. He takes us sightseeing and to an evening meal where we have the opportunity to sample a typical Czech meal. Later Josef shows us more sights and takes us to a church where he has reserved seats for a Baroque music concert. He also arranged for us to have a private tour to learn more about the history of the church. Later Josef parts company with us and the team stops off at a café near the hostel to have a coffee and to further bond. It's been a long day and we soon retire in readiness for the trip tomorrow.

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May 29, 2009 -- Aha! I'm in Praha!

The long journey is over. I have arrived in Praha (Prague)! After booking into my hotel I work out a timetable for the rest of the day. 
It is raining intermittently, sometimes very heavily, never the less I feel determined to get out and explore. I begin walking and try to reach out and feel this vibrant city. The architecture is beautiful. After an hour or so I began to seek a reasonable looking cafe where I could buy a traditional Czech lunch and perhaps even a Pivo (beer). After drifting in among the small streets I stop under an arch of a building to check my bearings. The rain is not letting up. While I wanted to utilize every available minute while I was in Praha, I decided it would be wiser to retrace my steps back to the hotel. 

It is after 4:00 pm. I have had a quick and easy beverage and burger here at the hotel. Jet lag is catching up with me and I prepare to take a nap. I set my alarm to order to allow for sleeps between now and the morning to try and hopefully quickly adjust to the new time zone. I plan to wake up, have a traditional Czech meal here in the hotel at 7:00, rest again, get up at 1:00, adjust to the late night and with any luck be ready for further exploration in the morning.

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May 28, 2009: This is it!

Earthwatch packing list is checked again – bags are packed with wet weather gear, lights, books, hiking boots, second change of clothes in case baggage goes missing and so on. The clock is ticking. There are farewells, promises to stay safe and to call regularly, then I am off to the airport. Jizera Mountains - here I come. I wonder if I will encounter bears or wolves there!
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May 25, 2009: Have a Safe Trip

As part of my travel preparation, I visit the Travel Doctor in Fremantle. Here the Doctor discusses the possible medical issues I may encounter while traveling. He explains the background to the swine flu epidemic. I receive a comprehensive medical kit to take with me while traveling. 
As part of the final preparation, a global conference call is scheduled with the other Earthwatch Fellows. Rob Bear (Director, Environmental Affairs) holds an informal discussion on the upcoming expeditions. He speaks without hesitation about the Alcoa Values that embrace safe work practice. He said that If you see something that is not quite right, then raise it and discuss it with the people involved. Help others understand why the activity must stop and must be done another way. He spoke with conviction and belief that as Alcoa Earthwatch Fellows we will continue to promote these Alcoa Values. My main work in Alcoa is safety related, and I really enjoyed this talk.

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May 22, 2009: Czech-ing Up

I have friends who have been to the Czech Republic. They speak about a friendly people, beautiful scenery and architecture. I am quite excited about this. I endeavour to learn some Czech words and phrases. It is an interesting and expressive language.
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May 20, 2009: Going fishing?

I regularly meet with the Kwinana electrical staff team as part of my work routine. They are a great bunch of blokes who are always willing to share their varied views on life. They inquire as to what I shall actually be doing in the Czech Republic. I explain how I will take water and soil samples, measure and evaluate tree sizes, and catch fish in order to assess how the sustainability strategies are working. The fact that I may be in the Czech Republic catching fish opens up an extraordinary loud and protracted discussion for some reason. I explain these streams and reservoirs were fishless for almost 40 years. As part of the strategy of reintroducing the fish populations, a complex study has been underway since 1995 to develop an essential foundation to assess sustainability and survival of the fish population. I also add that professional fisherman will actually catch the fish and that I will be part of the team that will help to analyze biological parameters (weight, length, etc.) and then return the fish to the water. There are still loud mutterings about taking a trip to go catch fish.
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May 14, 2009: Water Issues at Home and Abroad

Recent articles in our local newspapers raise concerns on the apparent lowering water table in some areas of our state. Wetlands are drying up; caves that used to have underground lakes and flowing rivers are reduced to minor waterways or indeed small ponds. These events can be considered as either part of the normal environmental lifecycle, or as ominous signals that all is not well. Coincidentally, these were water sustainability issues that I raised in my Earthwatch application and I endeavor to learn more about these issues upon my return.
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May 11, 2009: Dr. Ziggy

In order to further broaden my understanding of global warming and the energy challenges that Australia must face, Lisa and I attend the presentation “Energy Options in a Warming World” at the University of Western Australia. Dr. Ziggy Switkowski is the Chair of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization. In 2006 he chaired the Australian Prime Minister’s Review of Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy. The subsequent question/answer session was informative but also indicated the divide between Australian conservation groups and the nuclear lobby/industry. I speak to Dr. Switkowski after the discussion and at his invitation email him some specific questions and enquire for further information. He responds promptly and provides more food for thought.
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May 7, 2009: Josef Krecek, Our Expedition's "Green Hero"

I read about the Earthwatch Principal Investigator in the Czech Republic, Josef Krecek. In 2003, he was nominated by Time Europe magazine as a "Green Hero." They described him as a "Light in the Black Triangle." His detailed investigations and findings over the past 27 years have provided solid scientific evidence linking the dismal decline of native forest and fish stocks to atmospheric pollution and poor stewardship of the land during mining operations.
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April 2009: Preparations

The preparation begins. Emails begin to flow from Allison at Earthwatch Institute, forms are to be filled in and responsibilities acknowledged. I notice the edge to the Earthwatch approach – great you have been awarded a fellowship, now let’s get to work! I really like this approach and appreciate the “let’s get it moving” philosophy. Through the comprehensive emails and posted briefings I learn more about the important work that I will be expected to support. 
I write a news release about Earthwatch and the upcoming expedition and send it to local media organizations. Once I return home, I will be providing a briefing (TV or news) to explain what we achieved on the expedition.

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March 19: I Get an Answer

I receive an email from Rob Bear, Director, Environmental Affairs, and Ed Barker, Alcoa Director of Corporate Partnerships, Earthwatch. I read it once, carefully. 
“Dear William, Congratulations! You have been selected to be a 2009 Alcoa Earthwatch Fellow. You are headed out on Mountain Waters of the Czech Republic to work with field scientists. Your expedition is scheduled for 5/30/2009 to 6/13/2009…….” 

I read it twice, very carefully. There is no mistake! I have actually been awarded a fellowship! 

I think of how I can contact my wife, Lisa. It is early morning and she is preparing to leave for work. I can’t tell anyone until I have told her. If I can’t get to tell her then I have to wait all day until I meet her after work. If I ring her I may delay her. If I SMS text, what do I write? “RING ME URGENTLY!” This could be upsetting if she did not receive the text until late afternoon. Finally I SMS text “Funny one at work, pls give me a call” and hope she rings me before she gets to work. 15 minutes later she calls. I tell all. It is another great moment in my life sharing this great honor with Lisa. 

I try to meet and tell as many colleagues as possible before sending an email around lunchtime. Later that afternoon I am amazed at how fast the communication has moved through the organization. People stop and speak to me “Congratulations???” I think, how did they hear? Emails from people I haven’t met in a while. “Well deserved” and “why in the world are you getting this (Joke I hope!)” It is quite a good feeling. I return home that evening and Lisa has bought us a bottle of champagne for us to celebrate. A happy day ends so perfectly well.

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January 2009: Applying, or actually RE applying

I read the online Western Australian Update January 6, 2009. I see the invitation for all to apply for an Alcoa Earthwatch Fellowship. I have often thought about being on a Fellowship. I applied once before in 2005 and was unsuccessful. Before I set out my application, I seek to understand what the program is all about. I read the information about the Earthwatch program on the Alcoa Intranet. I read the Earthwatch Diaries of previous Earthwatch Fellows. I talk to people who have been awarded a fellowship previously and how this positive experience has since shaped their lives (Hi Andrew Douglas – Earthwatch Fellows class of 2008). 
I prepare my application. I think of the contributions I have made previously (In the mid 1990’s being invited to be part of an Alcoa team respecting diversity, Make an Impact, Tree planting, many Action and Bravo events, etc) and set these out. I read my draft application and see how much I have done. I am also struck by the fact that it was Alcoa that provided me this solid supportive framework to go ahead and make these enjoyable and positive community-based contributions. In my application I include my environmental concerns about living here in Western Australia, such as water availability, quality and sustainable development. I finally upload my application form onto the Alcoa Earthwatch Sharepoint site. Here goes...

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