April 23, 2008 14:18 ET

BCIT Students Embark on Canoe Journey Around the British Isles

Fish, Wildlife and Recreation students start first leg of circumnavigation on May 1

BURNABY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - April 23, 2008) - On May 1, eight Fish, Wildlife and Recreation (FWR) students from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), will be anxiously awaiting high-tide on the Thames River in London, England, as they embark on the first leg of a journey to circumnavigate the British Isles by canoe.

"This will be a fantastic adventure for our students", says Mark Angelo, head of the FWR program, and the founder of World Rivers Day, which takes place in September. "They will be able to interact with people in coastal villages and discover similarities to our own coastal communities, as well as learn many things about the environment, including reclamation efforts on the Thames."

Today, BCIT officially launches a blog for the trip, which will be written along the way by FWR student Jessica (Jessie) Kleeberger, of White Rock. The blog will be featured on BCIT's homepage, bcit.ca.

"I'm looking forward to documenting our adventure," says Kleeberger. "Hopefully people will follow along, and will be able to learn about the environment along with us."

The students and their instructors, including Angelo and Bob Gunn, fly to England on April 27, and will stay in London for three days. A highlight of their stay in the city will include a visit to the office of the Canadian High Commission in Trafalgar Square on April 30, for a formal tea. Then, on May 1 at the beginning of the outgoing tide, the 42-foot Spirit Dancer Canoe will slip into the Thames, and the group will set off for the first leg of the circumnavigation. After passing the London Bridge and paddling through the river's estuary, they'll head around England's southern coast, ending at Portsmouth. This part of the journey will cover approximately 200 nautical miles.

The entire journey will take place over the next three summers, ending in September 2010. BCIT hopes to send students to participate in some of the legs each year. The circumnavigation is being led by Chris Cooper of Spirit Dancer Canoe Journeys, a non-profit society based in British Columbia. A native of Yorkshire, England, Cooper now resides in Maple Ridge, BC.

A special accessory for the canoe also has ties to BCIT, as researchers designed a state-of-the-art spray cover for the canoe, which was then constructed at BCIT. As well, some of the paddles to be used on the circumnavigation come from trees damaged during the Stanley Park windstorm in 2006.

Students taking part in the journey are: Jessica Kleeberger of White Rock, Dan Straker and Jenny Ma of Vancouver, April Reed of Port Moody, Laura Seaton of Terrace, Meghan McKillop and Jillian Stewart of Delta, and Samira Khodadoost, who currently resides in Burnaby, having grown up in Iran.

EDITORIAL NOTES: For further information, media can contact Mark Angelo at 604-432-8270, mark_angelo@bcit.ca. Interviews in advance of the students' departure on April 27 can be arranged by contacting Mark Angelo or Allison Markin at 604-432-8773, allison_markin@bcit.ca. Photos of the launch into the Thames will be available on May 1 by contacting Allison Markin.

Further information about Spirit Dancer Canoe Journeys can be found at: www.spiritdancercanoejourneys.ca.

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