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Trip Leaders

Heading up each program is a team of talented, dynamic trip leaders who have extensive experience in the field — and love working with high school students. With no more than nine students to every leader, we'll have the freedom to break into teams to pursue our On Assignment and community service projects. Here are a few of our outstanding trip leaders who may accompany you on a National Geographic Student Expedition.

Brett Garner

UCLA, B.S., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, M.A.S.

A conservation biologist, photographer, and educator, Brett has worked and traveled extensively through Asia, Oceania, the Americas and the Middle East. In 2014, Brett received a Rapid Ocean Conservation grant from the Waitt Foundation to spend several months in Fiji producing the multimedia project, "Kia Over There," highlighting traditional Fijian fishermen and the environmental challenges they face. Previously, he has worked as a marine science instructor for the Mission Bay Aquatic Center and a staff photographer for the Joshua Wilderness Institute. Brett holds certifications as a PADI divemaster, Wilderness First Responder and American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguard.

Justine Shanti Alexander

Lewis & Clark College, B.A.; Northern Arizona University, M.S. candidate
McGill University, B.S., Imperial College London, M.S., Beijing Forestry University, Ph.D. candidate

Justine’s passion for travel and conservation developed at an early age while growing up in New Delhi, India and Geneva, Switzerland. Currently, Justine’s work is focused on the conservation of snow leopards in China, which earned her a National Geographic Young Explorers grant. Justine also studied wildlife hunting and consumption in rural West Africa, has worked at Canada’s Calgary Zoo and co-founded an organization dedicated to raising awareness about conservation topics in China, the Wildlife Conservation Student Conference. She has volunteered and worked in local communities across India, South Africa, Canada, Panama and Ghana; and is fluent in French and Mandarin.

Patrick McLaughlin

St. Lawrence University, B.S., Drexel University, Ph.D. candidate

Patrick developed a passion for field research and travel as a biology and environmental studies major, and was awarded a university fellowship in field biology. He has worked as a marine science instructor in the Florida Keys, a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Vermont, a naturalist guide in Yellowstone, and a director of the environmental education program for the Grand Teton Lodge Company. Over the past five years, Patrick has discovered three new frog species while working on his doctoral research focused on amphibian ecology and biodiversity conservation in central Africa.

Federico Pardo

Universidad de los Andes, B.S., Montana State University, MFA

Born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, Federico has filmed and photographed cultural, scientific and conservation stories in the U.S., Latin America, and Mozambique. He won an Emmy award for his cinematography in National Geographic’s Untamed Americas, and also won Smithsonian’s In Motion contest for his documentary about discovering new species in the Amazon. Federico is co-founder and co-director of EverydayLatinAmerica, an Instagram group highlighting the work of Latin American photographers, and works as a media producer for Colombia’s Humboldt Biodiversity Research Institute. He is currently working on a multimedia documentary about Colombia’s primates.

Jill Schneider

University of Arizona, B.A., Academy of Art University, MFA

While working toward her MFA at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Jill spent nine months documenting Himalayan life in Nepal, Northern India, Kashmir, Bhutan, and Tibet for her master’s thesis. Jill later attended the prestigious Missouri Photo Workshop and was a freelance photojournalist for the San Francisco Chronicle. She is now a freelance photographer and photography instructor, and is a contributing photographer for National Geographic Traveler guidebooks. In her free time, Jill works on independent stories profiling unique characters, from families living in Manila’s cemeteries due to overcrowding to the last remaining matchmaker in Ireland.

Alexandra Silva

Cornell University, B.S., University of Illinois at Chicago, M.S. & M.Ed. candidate

Alex was an Animal Science major and a Natural Resources minor at Cornell, with a special emphasis on wildlife and habitat preservation. After graduating, she spent a year working with Environment America, an environmental advocacy organization. Currently, Alex is pursuing a M.S. degree in Ecology and Evolution, as well as a M.Ed. in Science Education with a focus on urban ecology and the use of technology in science education. Alex works with the university’s Learning Sciences Research Institute, developing science education programs that engage middle school students in investigations of backyard wildlife diversity and behavior using camera traps.

Proceeds from our student expeditions help fund the National Geographic Society's core mission programs. By traveling with us, you are helping support our grantees and explorers in their efforts to preserve species and habitats, protect cultures, and advance understanding of our incredible planet.
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