Local high school students return from Alaskan adventure

Published: Jun. 24, 2017 at 6:01 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2017 at 3:38 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Ten local high school students returned after spending three weeks on a backcountry adventure in Alaska.

The students, whose families live at or below the Federal Poverty Level, were awarded a $25,000 Challenge Cost Share Program Grant by the National Park Service.

The funding supported the local non-profit group National Center for Outdoor and Adventure Education's (NCOAE) 2017 Education without Walls (EWW) trip to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The grant covered nearly all costs associated with the backcountry adventure.

While in Alaska, the students worked alongside a National Park Service archaeologist to clear brush and woody debris within the Chititu Historic Mining Landscape, where structures have been degraded by the encroaching forest and harsh weather.

The students' mentor and leader Zac Adair, who was blinded in a car accident 12 years ago.

As a committed outdoor enthusiast, Adair earned his undergraduate degree and his masters in Adventure Education and Programming.

Though he was committed to a career in outdoor adventure, Adair was aware he was not a likely candidate for hire so he and his wife founded their own outdoor adventure organization, which soon became NCOAE.

"The motivation that they have and how bad they want success in their life, and being able to provide a program that gives them that opportunity to succeed is a pretty phenomenal experience," Adair said.

A student who went on the trip, Joaly Canseco, said this was not an ordinary hike in the woods.

"We knew each other from before from past trips but going to Alaska was a whole different ball game and to be so far away from home, we were able to grow a stronger connection cause we were all we had," Canseco said.

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