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Joel Sartore


Guillermo de Anda


Dr. Donald Freeman


Dr. Joan Kang Shin




Joel Sartore

Best known for his photographs of wildlife, Joel Sartore wields his camera in the battle to conserve natural spaces and the habitats they support. With over 20 years of experience as a National Geographic photographer, Sartore is on a mission to document endangered species and landscapes in order to show a world worth saving.

Sartore's interest in nature started in childhood, growing up in Nebraska, when he learned about the very last passenger pigeon from one of his mother's Time-Life picture books. Since then, his assignments have taken him to every continent and to the world's most beautiful and challenging environments, from the high Arctic to the Antarctic. He has been chased by a wide variety of species, including wolves, grizzlies, musk oxen, lions, elephants, and polar bears.

Sartore's work is about more than taking beautiful photographs. He is on a mission to teach people about the effects humans are having on the world's ecosystems. In his words, "It is folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity. When we save species, we're actually saving ourselves."

His 30-plus stories in National Geographic magazine include the March 2000 cover story "Madidi: Will Bolivia Drown Its New National Park?" which played a crucial role in helping to convince the Bolivian government to abandon its plans to build a large-scale hydroelectric dam that would have submerged a large portion of pristine forest.

In additional to his work for National Geographic, Sartore has contributed to Audubon Magazine, Geo, Life, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and Time. He has written several books, including RARE: Portraits of America's Endangered Species, Photographing Your Family, and Nebraska: Under a Big Red Sky. Sartore and his work have been the subjects of several national broadcasts, including National Geographic's Explorer, NBC Nightly News, NPR's Weekend Edition, and an hour-long PBS documentary, At Close Range.

Sartore graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in journalism. He currently lives in Nebraska with his wife and three children.

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Guillermo de Anda

Not all Maya ruins are picturesque temples that rise above the landscape and reach to the clouds. Some lie hundreds of feet belowground in the watery depths of remote, flooded caves. Why did the ancient Maya exert such incredible effort to build within these dangerous, virtually inaccessible labyrinths? And how? Underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda descends into the darkness laden with ropes, scuba gear, and curiosity to tell their remarkable story.

With thousands of caves and cenotes (sinkholes) lacing the Yucatán Peninsula landscape, how does de Anda target prime sites to explore? He began by diving into a 450-year-old book filled with testimony from the Spanish Inquisition. Zealous to eradicate the Maya's religious practice of human sacrifice, Spaniards interrogated and tortured Indians to elicit locations of cenotes where ceremonies took place.

"The chronicles recorded names of villages and descriptions of priests going out of their way to reach specific cenotes that held special religious significance, places where people had worshiped for centuries," de Anda reports. He was the very first to connect the dots between Inquisition testimony, sacred texts, and mysterious remains discovered in caves. The puzzle his detective work seeks to solve depends on his skills as an archaeology scholar, an expert in human bones, and a high-level cave diving instructor.

"Exploring these caves is very demanding," he admits. "The ancient Maya liked to make it hard; they searched for extremely distant places. So we know the harder it is to get there, the better our findings may be."

De Anda's team of four disappears into caves for 12 or more hours at a time, draped with equipment, hacking apart overgrown entrances, rappelling down 100-foot vertical drops, diving into 200-foot pools, swimming horizontally along narrow passageways, squeezing through tiny openings, dodging swarms of bats, crawling on floors moving with snakes and scorpions, and never forgetting how to find their way out.

Other caves yielded sacrificial knives, jade, human and dog skulls, and a stone inscribed with hieroglyphics, all dating to the same years of drought. Recent discoveries from a cenote at Mexico's famed archeological site Chichén Itzá further confirm this theory. Just a few feet beneath the waterline, the bones of six humans were found alongside carefully placed jade beads, ceramic pots, and various animal bones. De Anda suggests that "this was a ritual offering that may have served as a desperate attempt to please the gods during a time of brutal drought."

For him, it is definitive evidence that these extreme shifts in the water level occurred. "This archaeological evidence of historically documented changes in climate long ago may help analyze dramatic storms and droughts happening today," he says. "The Maya, particularly those in the northern lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula, were true survivors who appreciated how dependent humans are on the natural world. This profound respect for nature is a lesson we can all learn from them."

Grateful for a career that combines science and adventure, de Anda shares that "the moment of discovery is thrilling, but it's also a huge responsibility. My light may be shining on human remains or artifacts for the first time in 2,000 years. I have the privilege to stand here and the responsibility to translate it for the rest of the world."

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Donald Freeman

Donald Freeman is a professor at the School of Education, University of Michigan, where he works with undergraduate and post-graduate teacher preparation in all subjects K-12. For 25 years, he was on the graduate faculty at the School of International Training, where he chaired the Department of Language Teacher Education and founded and directed the Center for Teacher Education, Training, and Research, a unit that designed and implemented teacher education projects around the world. He is editor of the professional development series, TeacherSource (Heinle-Cengage), and his books include Teacher Learning in Language Teaching (with Jack C. Richards; Cambridge), Doing Teacher-Research (Heinle-Cengage). Dr. Freeman is a past president of TESOL, a past member the International Advisory Council for Cambridge University ESOL Examinations (formerly UCLES), and immediate past chair of the International Research Foundation for English Language Teaching (TIRF).

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Dr. Joan Kang Shin

Joan Kang Shin is a teacher, teacher trainer, professor, and researcher in the field of TESOL. She specializes in professional development programs for teaching English as an international language to young learners and teenagers. She is also an expert in online TESOL education and is currently conducting research on building international virtual communities of practice for English teachers. Dr. Shin is Series Editor for a ground breaking six-level primary series for National Geographic Learning called Our World which will be launched in 2013 and co-author of a professional development textbook about teaching young learners English as an international language.

Dr. Joan Kang Shin is the Director of TESOL Professional Training Programs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). In this position she administers numerous online professional development programs for EFL teachers in over 100 countries, including her own courses Teaching English to Young Learners and Teaching English to Teens. At UMBC, she is also a Professor of Practice in the Education Department and Project Director of the STEP T for ELLs Program (Secondary Teacher Education and Professional Training for English Language Learners) funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

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