Inspiration through adventure

Emma Morley dashes into a life-changing trip

The Youth Ambassadors of Expedition Utah participate in a dinosaur dig. (Photo courtesy of Emma Morley)

Emma Morley experienced the adventure of a lifetime last month and she ran through 270 million years to get through it.

Morley’s adventure, Expedition Utah, occurred May 12-19. The program she participated in was at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. The expedition was organized by the group impossible 2 possible, established by Ray Zahab, which aims to inspire and educate young students through adventure.

Morley’s adventure focused on earth science and dinosaurs since 20 new species of dinosaurs have been discovered at Escalante National Monument in the last decade.
Morley served as a youth ambassador for the trip and participated in active dig sites, web chats with schools worldwide, including Stillwater Area Public Schools, and kept students up to date on the ambassadors’ adventures during their trip.

The group’s transportation was running, between 30 and 50 kilometers a day during the eight-day trip. It seemed to be fitting for Morley, a 21-year-old Stillwater Area High School alumnae and neuroscience major at Brigham Young University in who said she was blown away by the experience.

“When people asked me what it was like, I didn’t have the words to describe it. It was too good to be true,” she said.

Morley’s experience began in the monument’s oldest rock formations and worked it’s way to present-day formations. The Youth Amabassadors learned about the various species that would’ve been around during that time, climate changes and other information regarding dinosaurs.

“We never really were told what was coming up. They wanted us on the edge of our seats,” said Morley regarding the support crew she traveled with.

The trip’s educational components were shared through blog posts, web sites, video and web chats with schools that paid to participate in the expedition.

“It didn’t even feel like reality. I was talking to all these real-life experts and felt like I was on the set of ‘Jurassic Park.’ There were some special places for permits and opportunities to go to places that we wouldn’t have been able to get to just as a tourist,” Morley said.

Morley added that the reason she got involved in the expedition was due to Matt Howe, the technology coordinator from Oak-Land Junior High School in Lake Elmo who also served as education coordinator for the expedition. Howe told Morley’s father about the expedition, who then told Morley about it.

“It’s an adventure-learning component, it taps into different ways to connect with kids,” Howe said. “It was a life-changing experience and from the stories and challenges that we went through I learned to overcome my own perspective of my limitations and kept reaching out and making a difference in classrooms around the world.”

Connecting with kids from around the world is what Morley loved about the expedition. She ran with three Canadians and another ambassador from the U.S. and they became friends.

“We’re suffering from what we call PEWS, post-expedition withdrawal symptoms,” Morley said with a laugh. “It was bittersweet to come home and see my family. I was so torn. We’re (the Youth Ambassadors) all scattered now and I don’t think any of us had experienced such a rapid friendship, and now we’re all scattered across North America it’s a really different experience.”

Morley loved the experience so much that when Zahab offered her a spot as a support crew member on an upcoming trip to the Gobi Desert, she jumped at the chance. Now she’s waiting for her visa and passport to come through which will determine if she can go.

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat. A big part of it is a connection with kids and showing them how to be strong and to motivate themselves,” Morley said. “It’s not geared towards people who want to run ultra-marathons it’s for people who want to run out and share information with the world to build the next generation of strong and motivated kids who are determined to make a difference.”

For more information on i2p, check out
To learn more about Morley’s trip specifically check out

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]