National Geographic Announces Student Expedition Photo Contest Winners

National Geographic has announced the winners of their second annual Student Expedition Photo Contest, selecting the best images from more than 2,500 entries submitted by high school students from across the country. Those amateur photographers were asked to share their photos that best convey a sense of adventure and exploration, along with a short descriptive caption explaining the image. The entries were then examined by a board of Nat Geo photographers and photo editors who judged them on the overall quality of the photography, the quality of the included caption and the extent to which the image captured the heart of student expedition.

The winner of this year’s contest was 17-year-old Lijah Hanley, whose beautiful image entitled “No Boundaries” can be seen below. He snapped the photo while on a family drive to Dallas, OR, where they were planning a picnic under the stars. Lijah, who finished second in last year’s contest, has earned himself an all expense paid trip to attend a 12-day photography workshop to be held in London later this year.

The second place photo, entitled “Anticipation,” was taken by 16-year-old Julianna Brown and can be seen above. That image earned her a $250 gift card for the Nat Geo store. Third place went to Emily Watson, 18, who received a $100 gift card.

All of the winners, along with the other finalists, can be viewed by clicking here. Judging by the images that are on display there, I’d say there are some very talented photographers in this group.

National Geographic Expeditions Celebrates 125th Anniversary With New Travel Options

Exactly 125 years ago today the National Geographic Society was officially formed. Its founders set out to create an organization “for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge” and considering everything that Nat Geo has accomplished over the years, I’d say they succeeded. The Society will celebrate this important milestone in a variety of ways throughout this year, including adding a number of special itineraries to their award-winning travel service, National Geographic Expeditions.

Exploration and discovery have long been at the heart of what drives the National Geographic Society forward and the trips that they have scheduled to celebrate their 125th anniversary reflect those values quite clearly. All told, there are ten itineraries to choose from, ranging from a seven-day excursion to Mayan ruins with Nat Geo grantee William Saturno to a 38-day epic journey through South America that includes stops in eight countries. Other options include a visit to East Africa to spot primates and a sailing adventure along Canada’s wild coast. There are even four specially designed photographic adventures that combine amazing destinations with photo workshops. Those destinations include places like the Grand Canyon, Tanzania and Morocco.

Of course, many of these itineraries are available from competing travel companies, often at a lower price. But what sets the Nat Geo Expeditions tours apart are the amazing men and women that you’ll have the opportunity to interact with along the way. For instance, on the photo expeditions you’ll hone your own skills by learning from Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers, while the other trips are led by NG Explorers-in-Residence, writers, biologists and more. These extraordinary people can provide experiences and insights that simply can’t be found elsewhere.

Checkout the entire list of National Geographic Expedition tours on the company’s website and help Nat Geo celebrate its 125th anniversary in style.

[Photo Credit: National Geographic]

Video Of The Day: Virtual Myanmar

Visualtraveling – Myanmar” from Patrik Wallner on Vimeo.

A few months ago, President Obama became the first US president to visit the Asian country of Myanmar. Although tourism has opened up in recent years and the country held elections for the first time in 2010, it remains a tightly controlled country that many Americans feel they don’t want to support with their travel dollars. No matter how you feel about visiting the former Burma, you can enjoy this stunning video by Patrik Wallner. With gorgeous portraits of the people and landscapes of Myanmar, it feels like a National Geographic photo shoot come to life.

See a video worthy of being featured as the Video of the Day? Leave a link in the comments below.

National Geographic Introduces ‘Travelers Of The Year’

For years National Geographic has honored some of the world’s top explorers, scientists and humanitarians with the distinction of being called Adventurers of the Year. That title is generally reserved for men and women who climb the highest mountains, plunge headlong into the deepest jungles or sail to the furthest points on the map, all in the name of exploration and science. Making the annual list of Adventurers of the Year is a feat that few ever earn and it brings with it a tremendous amount of respect and admiration.

Nat Geo is hoping to bring that same level of distinction to the travel world by announcing its first ever recipients of the Travelers of the Year award. According to the National Geographic website, this honor is given to “individuals who explore the world with passion and purpose,” which seems a bit arbitrary at first glance. After all, who amongst us doesn’t fit that description, right? But once you read the bios on the inaugural winners you start to see why these particular people were chosen from a list of hundreds of nominees sent in by readers.

For example, Paula Busey and Samwel Melami were given the award because of their unique cooperative relationship, which has been fostered over the past few years. Paula, who is a high-school librarian, met Samwel while on safari in his home country of Tanzania. While on that trip, Samwel served as the guide, impressing Paula with his knowledge of wildlife conservation, ecotourism and tribal history. When she returned home, Busey thought that the students in her school could benefit from meeting Melami and learning a few things from the young guide. So, she raised enough money to bring him to the States, where he spent a week teaching more than 1500 students about African traditions and culture. In return, the students raised funds to help Samwel build a modern kitchen in a school back home. The venture was so successful, that it has continued over the past three years.Other recipients include Diana Gross, an educator who used her sabbatical to connect students and teachers in diverse and distant places, and Theron Humphrey, who spent a full year visiting all 50 states, taking over 90,000 photos along the way. Fifteen-year-old Booker Mitchell earned his spot amongst the Travelers of the Year by starring in a series of videos that show him skateboarding in different destinations around the globe, while Aussie Robert Pennicott gets the nod for his circumnavigation of Australia in a tiny dinghy, raising funds and awareness for the eradication of polio along the way.

These are just a sampling of some of the interesting travelers who have taken home this honor for the first time. Considering most of the men and women on the list are not unlike many of us, perhaps a Gadling reader or two will make the list in the future as well.

[Photo Credit: Dana Romanoff]

Introducing The 2013 National Geographic Adventurers Of The Year

Yesterday National Geographic introduced their selections for the 2013 Adventurers of the Year, doling out the honor to some of the most daring – not to mention fascinating – people on the planet. As always with these awards, the recipients are people who routinely push themselves to the limit while attempting things that most of us would never even dream of.

Probably the best-known person on the list is skydiver Felix Baumgartner, who became a household name when he made an historic leap from the edge of space a few weeks back. But Felix isn’t the only adventurer who is pushing the limits of human endurance. He’s joined on the list of winners by Lizzy Hawker, an ultra-running legend who routinely competes in, and wins, races that are 100-miles in length or more. Shannon Galpin earns a spot amongst the winners for her humanitarian efforts with the Streets of Afghanistan project, while kayaker Steve House completed a life-long dream by running the biggest rapids in the world along the Congo River. The rest of list consists of climbers, skiers, snowboarders, surfers and other outdoor athletes who all had amazing experiences throughout 2012.

As in previous years, Nat Geo would like to hear from us as to who we feel is the most impressive amongst this group of candidates. To that end, they’ve launched a website that allows us to vote for who we think is the most deserving person to be named the People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. Voting runs from now until January 16, 2013, with the winner being announced in February. Unlike that other impending election, however, we get to vote once per day between now and then.

Congratulations to these inspiring and amazing men and women. What an incredible honor.

[Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool]