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The girls at Northwest Passage Prairieview set out on a special underwater photography excursion featuring special guest Emily Stone. Emily is an education director and naturalist at the Cable History Museum in Wisconsin. She is a gardener and explorer of the natural world. The Prairieview girls shared the day with Emily and eagerly showed her tips and tricks of taking excellent underwater photos as well as how to prepare for the day. They all slipped on their wet suits, placed snorkel masks over their heads, and squeezed their feet into flippers to get started.

Prairieview-WOV-Emily

They began exploring the Namekagon Dam region with faces in water. From the surface, the girls appear to be calm, gently bobbing up and down on the surface of the clean, bronze water. Descending into water with their eyes wide open, the girls hover above an abundance of animated life. Water plants sway and turn under their noses. Schools of fish dart around their cameras and bodies. Crayfish retreat to nearby rocks and then cautiously peek out to continue on with their work. The sun expands underwater and turns the particles around them into gold specs. Suspended in this watery space, the girls continue to photograph. A young girl captures a picture of a shiner fighting the current under the dam, and a conversation emerges about the playful fish. With each new discovery of a species, the hands-on experience brings new unexpected knowledge.

When lunch time started (Emily brought garden fresh carrots to share with everyone), the girls interviewed Emily to understand her role in protecting the water. The girls first asked “What is your happy place?” Emily responded by telling the girls about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. She also spoke about the way species interact with their environments and the ways a trait will be favored given a climate (phenotypic plasticity.) Emily also mentioned her favorite poet, Mary Oliver, and the ways poets speak and relay information about the natural world around us. Lydia finished the interview by taking some candid portrait photos of Emily.

Wild Geese : By Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting over

and over announcing your place

in the family of things.


Underwater photography trips are a part of Northwest Passage’s In a New Light: Under the Surface project. The girls love these weekly excursions and the time spent in the water, observing their natural world. The experience includes swimming, learning, and growing closer to understanding a vital aspect of life on earth — water.

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