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Free Wilderness Science and Mountaineering Program for Adventurous Girls

Applications are now open for this unique, tuition-free wilderness science program!

If you know an adventurous, science-loving teenage Mighty Girl looking for a challenge this year, Inspiring Girls Expeditions is currently accepting applications for their free wilderness expedition science program! This year, the non-profit organization is running nine different expeditions, including ones focused on mountaineering on an Alaskan glacier, rock climbing in the Rocky Mountains, hiking in the Swiss Alps, and sea kayaking in Alaskan fjords. On each trip, a small team of girls will spend up to 12 days exploring and learning through scientific field studies with professional glaciologists, ecologists, mountain guides, and artists.

"Our purpose is to give girls a feeling for the processes that create the natural world and provide an environment that fosters the critical thinking necessary to all scientific inquiry," the group explains on their website. "An Inspiring Girls Expedition is the science version of a 'language immersion' experience – where we connect science with all aspects of daily life with the goal of creating lifelong advocates for Earth science, specifically, and the scientific process as a whole."

The original expedition, Girls on Ice, was launched by Michele Koppes and Erin Pettit in 1999, on the Cascade River in Washington State. The program expanded in 2012, when Pettit partnered with the University of Alaska Fairbanks to mentor several graduate students to run the program in Alaska. Since then, Pettit has mentored additional guides and instructors, adding expeditions Canada, Switzerland, Austria, and Central Asia, as well as other locations in the United States. As a result, the organization now calls itself Inspiring Girls Expeditions, and they're constantly looking to expand to add even more adventures.

All expeditions are tuition free; participants provide transportation to the program site, but the organization provides as much financial assistance for travel as they can to ensure that every girl can go regardless of economic situation. They also provide all technical equipment and clothing needed for the expedition.

If you know an adventurous teen who might be interested in Inspiring Girls Expeditions, applications for the 2021 program are now open. Details about each expedition, including age requirements, are listed below. You can also donate to Inspiring Girls Expeditions to allow them to reach even more young women or volunteer as an instructor, guide, or "Gear Fairy". By supporting them, you'll give girls an unforgettable experience that can truly change girls' lives.

Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may affect their plans, Inspiring Girls Expeditions is hopeful that they will be able to run in-person expeditions in the summer of 2021. They will make a final decision about whether their full in-person programs can go ahead this coming spring. However, they're also planning alternatives, including the Expeditions@Home program they ran in the summer of 2020, which helps girls explore their local area with guidance from virtual workshops and online groups of fellow explorers and mentors. They're also examining the possibility of shorter duration in-person trips with precautions in place as necessary. To be considered for any of these options, however, it's necessary to apply for the program by January's application deadline.

"The Girls on Ice program was an inspirational and eye-opening experience that my 16 year old self was lucky to be a part of!" says Laura Andrich, who participated in Girls on Ice Cascades. "I not only learned how to walk on glaciers, rescue myself from crevasses, climb on ice with crampons, and summit a mountain but I also learned how far I could push myself in different and extreme situations." Girls on Ice Canada guide, glaciologist Alison Criscitiello, has also seen the program's impact firsthand: "There’s a ripple effect. Each girl learns she has the power and passion to change her community."

To learn more about Inspiring Girls Expeditions, to donate, or to apply for one of their expeditions, visit Inspiring Girls Expeditions website. The last day to start a 2021 application is January 22, 2021, except for the Girls on Ice Switzerland program, which will accept applications until February 19, 2021. 

Inspiring Girls Expeditions 2021

Girls on Ice Alaska

  • 12 days in the Eastern Alaska range exploring the Gulkana Glacier, June 11 to 22, 2021
  • Applicants must be 16 or 17 years old as of June 1, 2021
  • Accepts applications from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and low-income countries
  • Prioritizes applications from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Yukon, and British Columbia.

 

Girls on Ice Cascades

  • 12 days in the North Cascades on Mount Baker in Washington state; date to be determined
  • Applicants must be 16 or 17 years old as of June 1, 2021
  • Accepts applications from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and low-income countries
  • Strong preference to applicants currently living in the U.S., regardless of citizenship

 

Girls in Icy Fjords

  • 12 days sea kayaking around Bear Glacier near Seward, Alaska; date to be determined
  • Applicants must be 16 or 17 years old as of June 1, 2021
  • Accepts applications from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and low-income countries
  • Strong preference to applicants currently living in the U.S., regardless of citizenship

 

Girls on Rock

  • 12 days climbing peaks in Colorado's Gore Range; date to be determined
  • Applicants must be 16 or 17 years old as of June 1, 2021
  • Priority to applicants who live in the Rocky Mountain states and the Southwest (especially Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona.)
  • Strong preference to applicants currently living in the U.S., regardless of citizenship

 

Girls on Water - Alaska

  • 12 days exploring the marine environment in Kachemak Bay, Alaska, July 15 to 26, 2021
  • Applicants must be 16 or 17 years old as of June 1, 2021
  • Preference to girls living in Alaska

 

Girls in the Forest - Alaska

  • 12 days traveling along the upper Chena River through the boreal forests of subarctic Alaska, August 2 to 13, 2021
  • Applicants must be 16 or 17 years old as of June 1, 2021
  • Preference to girls living in Alaska

 

Girls on Ice Canada

  • 12 days in Glacier National Park in British Columbia from July 27 - August 8, 2021
  • Applicants must be 16 or 17 years old as of June 1, 2021
  • Accepts applications from girls currently living in Canada, regardless of citizenship

 

Girls on Ice Switzerland

  • 11 days on the Findelen Glacier in the Swiss Alps; date to be determined
  • Open to girls who speak German or French (minimum B2 level, preferably C1 or above)
  • Program takes place July 16 to 26, 2021 (German speakers) and July 26 to August 5, 2021 (French speakers)
  • Applicants must be aged 15 to 17
  • Preference to applicants from Switzerland and surrounding areas.

 

Girls on Ice Austria

  • This expedition will explore the glaciated mountains of Tyrol; date to be determined
  • Applicants must be between the ages of 15 and 17 as of June 1, 2021

 

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