Elizabeth Nelson appears on screen in front of a white background.
I don't know how I convinced my parents to let me spend all of my university money
On a 49-day canoe trip in the Northwest Territories
But I did!
TITLE: PARKS INSIDER
It meant having to spend every cent of money
that we had saved up until then for my university education.
That meant no money for my first year.
No money for residence. No money for books.
No money for tuition.
And I bargained a bit with my parents, trying to convince them.
I'm going to learn so much about the world.
I'm going to grow as a person. It's going to change my life.
And in the end it was absolutely true.
It completely changed my life.
That trip was the first time that I saw Arctic tundra.
It was the first time I saw caribou.
Various photos of her canoe trip appear on screen
Not just one caribou, but hundreds of caribou.
It was the first time that I pushed myself to get through every day.
It was the first time I went without fruit and vegetables for over four weeks.
Because you get them at the beginning... then you just run out of them.
I think seeing the beautiful simplicity of Arctic tundra,
then looking closer and realizing how complex it really was,
made me realize how challenging and difficult a career in ecology would be.
Before leaving for that trip, I had been very much on an engineering track.
I was taking three different courses in math.
I was convinced I was going to become the next robotics engineer.
It hadn't occurred to me you could reach that same
depth of knowledge out on the land,
as you could trying to figure out a really complicated physics problem.
One of the incredible things about Arctic tundra
is that it's such a beautiful landscape,
but fundamentally, there are only maybe ten species that you are looking at.
Those ten species have to interact with one another
in incredibly complex and co-dependent ways.
One of those species being impacted by climate change,
or being lost due to some sort of human development,
will throw all of the other nine completely out of whack.
That trip made me realize how much I loved, not just being outside,
but also understanding outside.
Learning about nature. Studying nature.
Understanding how things connect on the ground.
On day 49, when we got to Kugluktuk,
the first thing I did was call my parents and thank them for letting me go on that trip.
That trip changed my life. It changed my career.
And I'm so grateful that I had that opportunity
to go up North and see those spaces for myself.