Inside National Geographic Society’s 125th Anniversary Gala

James Cameron, Alex Trebek & Felix Baumgartner join the National Geographic Society to celebrate 125 years in Washington, DC

By: Rebecca Ferguson, Staff Writer

Image courtesy of Rebecca Ferguson

Image courtesy of Rebecca Ferguson

“I think Obama, he is the guy to jump with,” offered base jumper – and the first person to break the sound barrier – Felix Baumgartner at the National Geographic Society’s 125th Anniversary Gala. “He seems to know what he is doing and is very disciplined. But… I’m not sure if the secret service would be happy with him doing that!”

Baumgartner joined Academy Award winning film maker James Cameron, ‘Jeopardy!’ host and National Geographic Bee moderator Alex Trebek, scientist Edward O. Wilson, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and humanitarian Howard G. Buffet at the formal affair on June 13th, 2013 which took place at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.

The gala included a cocktail party and reception, dinner, awards ceremony and an after party all in the theme of “A New Age of Exploration”.

The cocktail party took place in an upper level foyer where VIP guests enjoyed a selection of cocktails and appetizers.

Amidst the evening gowns and tuxedos, the elegant Silvia Earle opted for a glittering blue sweater with dress pants. She took a few moments from the reception to discuss her work.

Earle, being the first person in history to use scuba diving for science, explained, “The Ocean drives the way the planet works, we need to protect the ocean as if our lives depend on it, because they do. I think we are now at the best time in history to be alive. We know more than was known in all previous generations and we’ve seen in the space of a lifetime how much we can do to influence the nature of nature. But the real question is – what are we going to do with all this opportunity?”

Alex Trebek, donning a white tuxedo, spoke of his many contributions recognized by the National Geographic Society. Though he is primarily know for his role as the Jeopardy! host, Trebek has demonstrated a profound commitment to geography education. This includes a $1 million pledge to create an endowment fund for the National Geographic Bee, a competition he has hosted for the last 25 years.

[pullquote]“National Geographic is like a big family that is all around the world. Who else can have a global reach and still be the brother you never had?”[/pullquote]

A Sudbury, Ontario native, Trebek made many references to his home country during the cocktail reception. He first joked about personally replacing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, before continuing on a more serious note, “I’ve always been interested in politics and [entering the political field is] a possibility. But for the moment I’m still the host of Jeopardy! and I’m going to continue with that for a while.”

When asked if he would ever consider moderating a presidential debate Trebek responded, “I would love to moderate a presidential debate. Unlike some of the other moderators (and I’m not trying to disparage them but I have a different approach), I would not let the politicians get away with standard responses. I would try to get them to answer the question, even though I might look bad doing it.”

A buzz of excitement rose among guests when James Cameron arrived. Though perhaps one of the world’s most successful filmmakers, Cameron is celebrated for different reasons within the National Geographic community. On March 26, 2013, Cameron made history by completing the first-ever, single-pilot dive to the Challenger Deep, an area of the Mariana Trench that is the deepest place on Earth.

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