Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Amelia Foster Finds her Direction on Girls at the Helm aboard Adventuress

Amelia Foster as an Apprentice on the
inaugural Girls at the Helm trip in 2010
Twenty-three-year-old Amelia Foster and her mother Vanessa visited the Sound Experience office a few weeks ago to reminisce about how Amelias experiences on Adventuress changed the course of her life. Amelia recently completed her bachelor’s degree at Oregon State University with a double major in Microbiology and International Studies, she has assisted with research on salmonid species and coral reef degradation, studied for a year in Ecuador, and in just a few months she will head to Korea to spend a year teaching English. Says Amelia, “I knew from my time on Adventuress that I wanted to work in marine sciences. It was those experiences that gave me a direction in life. I’ve been doing ocean research ever since.”

Her first trip, a Fantastic Voyage 6-Day in 2009, opened her eyes to the hidden intricacy of the natural world: “I remember doing the plankton tow and seeing the bioluminescent plankton at night. It made me realize that there was a whole new world that I didn’t know about… I had never seen nature at that level before.” Mentioning some of the environmental concepts that she learned about on Adventuress—including “food miles,” or the miles that food travels to reach the consumer—Amelia says, “I was able to learn about things that I wasn’t exposed to in school.”

Amelia and other participants on Girls at the Helm
work together to furl the jibsheet in 2010.
In 2010, Amelia returned as an Apprentice on our inaugural Girls at the Helm trip. It was here that her love of marine science melded with a greater understanding of herself as a leader. Says Amelia, “[Girls at the Helm] gives girls a chance to get on their feet and find their voice without any outside societal pressure. It allows young girls to be in a leadership role, which isn’t necessarily the experience they have in school. On the boat you won’t be seen as bossy or rude, only as a leader.” Her mother Vanessa echoes this sentiment: “In high school Amelia was very reserved. She would observe and not jump in. The summer before her senior year she went out on Adventuress. She came back [from Girls at the Helm] and said, ‘Mom, my senior year is going to be the best ever.’ And she was right. That year she took more of a leadership role. She was very self-directed.”

Now, as Amelia looks to the future, she seeks to unite her love of marine science with her love of education. She hopes to get involved in public outreach, which is why she is going into teaching. As she plans for her upcoming move to Korea, Adventuress seems more and more like an essential first step on a long and fulfilling journey. Says Amelia, “It was such a positive experience. It showed me all of the opportunities that are out there. Girls at the Helm presented me with all of the options that I had in life and showed me successful women mentors—women doing what they want to do.”


Participants work together on our
2015 Girls at the Helm trip
There will be two Girls at the Helm Trips this year—June 25-28 and August 9-12. As Amelia's experiences illustrate, Girls at the Helm is a trip that instills participants with a love of the Salish Sea, an interest in marine science, and the leadership skills necessary to follow one’s dreams. If you’re a young woman who’s interested in Girls at the Helm, or if you know a young woman who you think would benefit from the experience, we hope you’ll visit 

Sound Experience also offers a powerful co-ed program, Fantastic Voyage 6-Day for Teens. Our Level 1 trip is from July 11-16; our Level 2 trip—open to all, but geared towards those who have sailed before—is July 24-29.

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