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Explorer winner travels to Montana

Ben Zino, 11, of Salisbury recently returned from an expedition in Montana after winning a spot on a traveling team in a National Geographic Young Explorers contest. The 15 students learned about Lewis and Clark, met with Native Americans and visited their schools, worked with paleontologists at a live dinosaur dig and hiked Glacier National Park and surrounding areas.

Ben, a student at Southeast Middle School, was chosen from among thousands of applicants in the United States and Canada who submitted essays on exploration. Winners were chosen after phone interviews. “It was really fun meeting everybody, and it was just amazing seeing everything and being with people that love exploring as much as I do,” Ben said. He posted the following for a blog on the National Geographic Kids site:

“Today was our first day waking up on the west side of the Rockies. We had lunch on the edge of a small cliff that had a great view of Hidden Lake. Since Hidden Lake’s water is glacial runoff, the water was a teal blue from the glacial ‘flour,’ which forms as the glaciers crush the rocks to a fine powder.

“After lunch, as we started hiking back down the mountain, we saw a female mountain goat with twins, which our guide said was very rare. (I named the goat Georgina the Jumping Goat! I like to name all the animals I see, so I named the grizzly bear that we saw earlier in the week Benny the Bounding Bear!) The mother was still losing her winter fur, so it looked like she had a ripped coat on. I wanted to go cuddle with the babies, but I doubt their mother would have appreciated that.”

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