© HAYLEY GILBERT
Shooting a picture of a polar bear in the distance.
My name is Hayley Gilbert, I'm from Annapolis, Maryland, and I'm a senior at Broadneck High School. This September, I was chosen along with 12 other students from around the world to attend Polar Bear Leadership Camp. This camp is run by Polar Bears International, which is an organization dedicated to saving polar bears and educating people on the plight of the polar bear due to climate change. At the leadership camp, I joined students from places such as Australia, California, Canada and Tennessee. We stayed in tundra buggies, right on the Hudson Bay in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Tundra buggies are about the size of a school bus, but with 5 foot tall wheels. During the week that we we're out on the tundra, we learned about climate change, and what each of us individually could do to help save the polar bears.
I became interested in photography at a young age, mainly because of my dad. He is a photographer, and has always inspired my to go after what I love doing. While I was up in the tundra that week, I was able to get some amazing shots of what it is really like up there. I loved that I could use my pictures to get a message across to people that weren't there with me or able to understand what I was there doing. Photography has been a passion of mine for a long time, and I love showing my work. I had such a great opportunity participating in this camp, being able to be 10 feet away from a polar bear (above them in the buggy of course!) and getting the pictures that I did.
I founded a company called Polar Bear Nation with my brother and sister. We are triplets, and started this company 3 years ago. We donate 50 percent of our profits to Polar Bears International to fund a scholarship for students like me to go to the tundra and participate in this Leadership Camp. It is truly an amazing experience and it has changed my perspective of how we directly affect the polar bears' habitat.