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What to do if you actually come face to face with a wolverine? The Rapid Traveler’s favorite animal elusively stars in a NYT video, Wolverine Weekend. The eager volunteer trackers do not propose an answer, though they publicize the cool projects of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation to a wide audience. The companion article Matches Made in the Wilderness, in the Name of Science introduces the young organization:
The program, which Mr. Treinish founded, enlists outdoor athletes as hardy field assistants to scientists in need of data from far-flung places. Some expeditions are group efforts, but much of the data is collected by the lone hiker who pauses on the trail to inspect a plant, or the rower who stops to observe a pod of whales.
The idea came from a desire to take travel beyond a selfish experience, something The Rapid Traveler preaches more than he, lamentably, practices:
Mr. Treinish said he started the program out of a sense that adventure for its own sake was a bit self-indulgent. He soon found that others, from hard-core alpinists to day hikers, shared his yearning to contribute more to the natural good.
The article covers the inevitable challenges of relying on data collected by disparate non-expert volunteers, but who wants to throw water on it? This is a fantastic idea that can add real value when successful and make vacations satisfying and memorable through a sense of social contribution. The organization’s site provides detailed information for scientists and volunteers.
Too bad there do not appear to be any projects to capture samples of airline first class moist towels for analysis or half the Boarding Area readership would volunteer by midnight!