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Estonia Hosts GRLE 2015

GLOBE Estonia students pose for a group photo.

Since 1997, GLOBE Estonia has hosted a summer camp for its participants.  “Every year the event is held in different places in Estonia.  This allows us to investigate different ecosystems every year,” stated Laura Altin.  Altin is an Alumni leader in Estonia and a regional representative on the GLOBE Alumni International Advisory Committee in the Europe/Eurasia region.

A group of GLOBE students gather around a teacher at a computer.

However, this year was different -- this year Estonia hosted the annual GLOBE Regional Learning Expedition (GRLE 2015), which took place from 3-6 August 2015 in Nelijärve, Estonia.  This event was organized much in part by GLOBE Alumni and was a celebration of the GLOBE Program’s 20th year.  “Involving GLOBE alums helps to improve OUR role and gives opportunities to former active students to stay connected with the GLOBE program after graduation.  GLOBE Alumni also help by sharing their experiences with a new generation of ‘GLOBE-ers.’  With this and other similar events, we hope to encourage other GLOBE Alumni from around the world to give their input and participate.” added Altin.

During the four day event, GLOBE Estonia welcomed 180 participants from several different countries, including Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Finland, and Russia.  In attendance were Ambassador Jeffrey D. Levine of the United States Embassy in Tallinn (the capital of Estonia) and the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Estonia Jürgen Ligi. 

GLOBE Program Director Tony Murphy kicked off GRLE 2015 with a presentation about the history of the GLOBE program.  Delegations from each country presented about GLOBE activities taking place in each of their countries. 

The focus of the second day was learning new skills and refreshing old ones. Participants learned about standard GLOBE protocols, how to measure data, how to send the data and how it all relates to the environment. NASA scientist Brian Campbell introduced the new SMAP protocol.

For the third day, the participants were divided into groups, each led by a supervisor and sent out on expeditions.  Each group received a different set of objectives.

Afternoons and evening were full of fun times and entertainment.  Bara Semerakova, a representative of the Region Coordinator Office for GLOBE Europe and Eurasia, led the first evening’s cultural activities.  “The participants bonded over a variety of games and traditional dances.  There was constant laughter and joy on their faces,” said Altin.  During the third night, groups presented role-plays and mini-movies about GLOBE.  This was followed by an evening of disco dancing for the students and traditional sauna time for the teachers.

Events such as GRLE 2015 help to improve collaboration and cooperation within regions which forges a stronger network of GLOBE participants. Participants gained motivation to continue with their daily measurements at their schools.  They also discussed differences and shared experiences.   

The fourth and final day of GRLE 2015 wrapped up the events of the past three days. Groups gathered for a final head-to-head quiz-battle about GLOBE, Nelijärve and about what was learned during the expedition. This was followed by expedition presentations by each group.  (Access the groups’ individual presentations here:  The four-day-event ended with a feast which included a delicious cake. 

“By the end of GRLE 2015 there were 180 happy faces, we made new friends and formed new international bonds. Participants have shared warm thoughts about the event. Many have said they would do it all again in a heartbeat and hope for more future collaborations in the region.  For GLOBE Estonia and for our people it was honor to be the host country, and to introduce our GLOBE tradition to our new friends,” finished Altin. 

The GLOBE Regional Learning Expedition 2015 was organized by GLOBE Estonia in cooperation with the Embassy of the United States of America in Tallinn and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Estonia.