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SkyTrekkers to Bring the World Into Classrooms; The Prudential Foundation Offers Youngsters E-Learning Experience.

Business Editors/Education Writers

NEWARK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 26, 2001

The Prudential Foundation invites children, of all ages to travel along the famous Kangaroo Route with Jean Turnbull, pilot, Margaret Ringenberg, co-pilot, and crew member Priscilla Myers, as they compete in the upcoming historic London-to-Sydney Air Race 2001.

The team of aviators, known as SkyTrekkers, will be one of 50 teams of professional and amateur aviators from all over the world that will compete in the 28-day, 12,000 mile race over the longest air route between London and Sydney. The race, to be conducted under the Rules of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale begins on March 11 from Biggin Hill airfield, near London and end on April 7.

To engage the youngsters, The Prudential Foundation partnered with the Living Classrooms Foundation in Baltimore, MD to offer an interactive educational opportunity for middle school students to experience SkyTrekkers and the race in motion.

"We see this race as a chance for children to travel around the world from their school, community library or even from the comforts of their own home," said Gabriella Morris, President of The Prudential Foundation and vice president of Community Resources. "Not only will they be able to see and learn about other cultures, terrain and weather patterns, they will be able to have fun through the interactive web-based activities."

SkyTrekkers, flying a Beechcraft Baron 58, will journey through 28 ports of call in 17 countries, including Greece, Crete, India, Thailand, and Timor. They will soar over ancient ruins at Luxor, Egypt; the Taj Mahal at Agra, India and Ayers Rock in the Australian Outback.

"As crew, I will be documenting our itinerary and interacting with the children and I am very excited about what the children may be able to take away from this competitive voyage," said Priscilla Myers, senior vice president at The Prudential Insurance Company of America, the major sponsor of the SkyTrekkers team. "I hope that our partnership with The Prudential Foundation and Living Classroom Foundation helps make their science, history and geography studies genuine and easier to grasp as they travel with us through these fun and educational activities."

Using web-cams and laptops, SkyTrekkers will bring the world into classrooms each day to share the historic significance of the flight and to highlight the unique cultures of the countries and the wonders of the world they visit during their journey. The team will also send a postcard from each country to participating classrooms.

The Living Classrooms Foundation (LCF) will provide educational Internet activities and lessons, matched to national educational content standards, and other resources for teachers to use in the classrooms. The first activities will be posted one week before the race starts. New lessons and activities will be posted every week throughout the race. Teachers can access the free educational materials by visiting the SkyTrekkers web site at

"We are pleased to be partnering with the Prudential Foundation on this project, which will bring national education standards to the classroom in the context of this very exciting and dynamic race event," said Parker Rockefeller, Senior Vice President and Director of Development for LCF.

The London/Sydney Air Race is part of Australia's Centenary of Federation celebration and marks only the fourth time such a race has been held -- the first marking the feat by Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith in the Vickers Vimy airplane in 1919. The race retraces the 1919 route of the first aerial odyssey from England to Australia which demonstrated the feasibility of long distance air travel. Cash prizes were offered to the first pilot to link the heart of the British empire with its far flung commonwealth by flying the race in 30 days or less.

Living Classrooms Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has worked since 1985 to provide a wide range of innovative educational programming for children and youth. The Foundation has extensive experience developing and implementing educational interventions for disadvantaged and at-risk youth. Currently, the Foundation operates 38 programs, with over 50,000 student days of instruction per year. Utilizing maritime settings and other challenging learning environments and a 1:5 staff to student ratio, the programs emphasize the applied learning of math, science, language arts, history, economics, and ecology. Key objectives of all Living Classrooms programs are career development, cooperative learning, elevating self-esteem, and fostering multicultural exchange.

Founded in 1977, The Prudential Foundation is the nonprofit grant-making organization of The Prudential Insurance Company of America. It is part of Prudential's Community Resources Division, a strategic combination of three units: the Foundation, which strives to build children and families' self sufficiency; the Social Investment Program, which originates and manages socially beneficial investments; and Local Initiatives, which coordinates employee volunteerism and fosters community partnerships.

As one of only three all-female teams into the race, the SkyTrekkers team includes:

Jean Turnbull, 57, is the team's pilot-in-command. Jean has almost 20 years of flying experience. Last June, Jean participated in her first air race -- the Air Race Classic. The Classic is a long distance all-women's event held annually in the United States. Jean recently retired from a career in investment banking where she developed a national reputation for her expertise in the field of energy co-generation. She resides in Cape Cod, MA.

Margaret Ringenberg, 79, is the team's co-pilot. Margaret served the United States as a WASP (Women's Air Force Service Pilot) in WWI and became a flight instructor in 1945. She has been racing since 1957 in events including the Illi-Nines Air Race, the Powder Puff Derby, the Michigan SMALL Race. From the time she first soloed in 1941 until she completed the "Round the World" Air Race in 1994 at age 72, she has logged over 40,000 hours. In the last few years, Margaret has been busy lecturing about her aviation experiences and has also authored a book -- Girls Can't Be Pilots. Margaret's remarkable aviation history has also been chronicled in a chapter of Tom Brokaw's bestseller, The Greatest Generation. A grandmother, Margaret lives in Grabill, Indiana and has been married for over 54 years.

Priscilla Myers, 51, senior vice president, The Prudential Insurance Company of America, who is the crew member responsible for all administrative aspects of the trip, including maintaining the website, and securing sponsorship. At Prudential, she leads the company's demutualization efforts -- overseeing the extensive coordination, review and monitoring of all activities involved in Prudential's transformation from a mutually held company into a public company. She lives in Morristown, New Jersey.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Feb 26, 2001
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