Inspiring Girls Expeditions is holding two tuition-free expeditions for 16- and 17-year-old girls in Alaska this summer. (Courtesy Photo | Joan Travers)

Inspiring Girls Expeditions is holding two tuition-free expeditions for 16- and 17-year-old girls in Alaska this summer. (Courtesy Photo | Joan Travers)

Program introduces girls to science expeditions in wilderness

The decades-old science and outdoors program takes high school girls all over the wild

Inspiring Girls Expeditions, an all-female program that takes high school girls on 12 day expeditions in some of the roughest terrain in North America, is accepting applications for its summer 2020 expeditions.

“We empower young women to lead through science, art and wilderness expeditions,” Sarah Clement, the program coordinator, said in a phone interview Friday. “One of the primary goals is to increase the participation and diversity of young women in science.”

Founded in 1998 at the University of Washington by Erin Pettit, who has a Ph.D. in glaciology, the program has been hosted at University of Alaska Fairbanks since about 10 years ago, Clement said. Now part of the International Arctic Research Center, the program has expeditions from Alaska to Colorado to Switzerland, Clement said.

“Even though we were from different parts of the world, it was very powerful to have an experience to share with each other,” said Livana Hill, who went on an expedition with the program to the fjords near Seward in 2017 and now works as an outreach assistant with Inspiring Girls Expeditions. “Some of us had never kayaked, seen a glacier, camped or even hiked, so we were out of our comfort zones and got a lot of learning out of it.”

The expeditions are 12 days long, have nine girls, and have three or four instructors, all women, to oversee and help teams in the wilderness. The expedition will spend a day or two on the front and back end leaving town and returning and cleaning up their gear, Clement said, but most of the time is in the wilderness conducting science.

Inspiring Girls Expeditions is holding two tuition-free expeditions for 16- and 17-year-old girls in Alaska this summer. (Courtesy Photo | Klara Maisch)

Inspiring Girls Expeditions is holding two tuition-free expeditions for 16- and 17-year-old girls in Alaska this summer. (Courtesy Photo | Klara Maisch)

“They hike into a remote base camp and set up camp for eight days. They learn how to explore the wildness. They design and conduct experiments,” Clement said. “When they come back to town, they compile all their data and make a public presentation. One of the goals is to give the girl a feel for what an authentic field expedition looks like.”

Girls work with instructors to design and conduct experiments while living with each other out in the wild.

Candidates for the program need to apply by Jan. 31 of this year, Clement said. Girls must be 16 or 17 on June 1. The program covers all food, equipment and tuition, though they do ask that candidates pay for their own travel. If that’s difficult for a candidate, the program will work with them to help raise the money, Clement said.

Two expeditions will be taking place in Alaska this year: Girls on Ice, heading to the Gulkana Glacier, and Girls on Water, headed to Kachemak Bay near Homer, Clement said.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

Interested?

If you’re a girl who will be 16 or 17 on June 1, 2020, and you’re interested, you can apply at the website www.inspiringgirls.org. Applications must be started by Jan. 31.

“We’re looking for applicants that are passionate about something. They don’t have to have the best grades or best sports or most extracurricular activities,” Clement said. “We’re just looking for folks who are passionate about something.”

More in Sports

Barn swallows firmly attach their nests to walls, so they support the weight of nestlings and visiting adults.  (Photo by Bob Amrstrong)
On the Trails: Spring to summer

Spring temperatures were cool this year, but the lengthening days gave birds… Continue reading

In the spirit of Dolly Parton’s country music roots, race participant Mendenhall River Community School Principal Eric Filardi runs in costume with young Lucy Vogel wearing heart-shaped sunglasses as they enjoy the sunny Saturday weather on the Airport Dike Trail race course. About 85 runners participated, many wearing pearls and pink hats provided at the starting tent. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
Busting out the pink and pearls at the first Dolly Dash

Dolly Parton-inspired fun run raises funds for free books for kids.

People often use sea ice, as seen here off Alaska’s northern coast outside the town of Utqiagvik, for travelling. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Did sea ice help populate the Americas?

Human footprints preserved in mud at White Sands National Park in New… Continue reading

A cruise ship makes its way through early morning fog last summer. The passengers who have been arriving lately have not been experiencing similar tranquility. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Racing the weather

Daylight is unstoppable this time of year. Not like up in the… Continue reading

Juneau’s Nate Fick leaps to make a catch while another Eagle River run scores during the opening game Thursday of the Division I Alaska School Activities Association Baseball State Championships. (Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report)
Crimson Bears finish sixth at state baseball tournament, coach calls season promising for young team

JDHS loses to Chugiak in consolation finale; scenarios for next season expand due to TMHS merger.

Brown-headed cowbirds are professional egg-dumpers, always parasitizing the nests of other species. (CC BY 2.0 public domain photo).
On the Trails: Egg dumping behavior

Egg-dumping refers to the behavior of a female who puts her eggs… Continue reading

Members of the Thunder Mountain High School softball team pose for a shot following their 18-0 victory against North Pole High School on Friday during the Division II Alaska School Activities Association Softball State Championships in Fairbanks. (Thunder Mountain Softball photo)
Final flight of the TMHS Falcons ends with 6-4 loss on final day of state softball tournament

“It’s been a fun ride,” coach says as team wins conference title, goes 29-12 during its final season.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Landon Simonson is greeted at home after hitting a grand slam on Friday during the Division I Alaska School Activities Association Baseball State Championships in Anchorage. (Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report)
JDHS baseball, TMHS softball teams make it to final day of state tournaments

Crimson Bears play for consolation title after grand slam win Friday; Falcons still in title hunt

The Fairbanks Experimental Farm on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus opened in 1906. (UAF photo by Todd Paris, taken in September 2014)
Alaska Science Forum: The gardening potential of the Last Frontier

More than 100 years ago, a man traveled north on a mission… Continue reading

Thunder Mountain High School’s Ashlyn Gates, seen here pitching against Sitka High School during the Region V softball conference tournament last Saturday in Juneau, was named player of the game in an 8-0 win over Delta Junction High School to open the state softball title tournament on Thursday in Fairbanks. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire file photo)
TMHS wins state softball tournament openers 8-0, 16-1; JDHS falls short in baseball title quest

Falcons face Kodiak High School on Friday, Crimson Bears play consolation game against Colony.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Ida Meyer (301) and Etta Eller (294) lead the 3,200 at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Track and Field State Championships on Saturday. (Pete Pounds / Alaska Sports Report)
JDHS’ Etta Eller takes gold, Ida Meyer silver in 3,200 at state track and field championships

Eller also wins 1,600; Wilder Dillingham wins 200 during event in Anchorage.

An orange-crowned warbler looks for bugs on a willow (Photo by K.M. Hocker)