Inspiring Girls program seeks applicants for wilderness expeditions

Inspiring Girls Expeditions is accepting applications for 2020 summer expeditions. Young women interested in joining the tuition-free wilderness science education programs should start their applications by Jan. 31.

The expeditions are open to 16- and 17-year-old, female-identifying youths passionate about science, art and the outdoors. Alaskans are encouraged to apply, as are girls who may not otherwise receive such an opportunity. Participants are selected through a competitive process.

Photo by Brita Irving. The 2019 Girls on Ice team poses while mountaineering on the Gulkana Glacier in Alaska’s eastern Interior region.

The program is run through the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Alaska’s expeditions include mountaineering on Gulkana Glacier and sea kayaking in Resurrection or Kachemak bays. Teams of up to nine girls spend 12 days exploring icy fjords and alpine meadows, while gaining a greater understanding of the connection between glaciers and marine and terrestrial environments.

“The opportunity to get to know a new landscape through three different lenses — science, art and backcountry travel — really makes the program unique,” said program coordinator Sarah Clement.

Participants might use science to understand how a mountain ridge forms, then explore the colors that dance across the ridge through art, and finally find the best way to climb the ridge using mountaineering.

Young women engage in this wilderness setting under the leadership of an all-female team composed of a professional scientist, mountain guide and artist. The program fosters critical thinking, self-confidence and advocacy for Earth science.

“Watching participants finish expeditions with eight new best friends and motivation to pursue their passions is wonderfully inspiring,” said Clement.

For more information or to learn more about the application process, please visit

Photo by Erin Pettit The 2019 Girls in Icy Fjords team takes a break while sea kayaking near the tidewater glaciers of Northwestern Fjord on the southeastern coast of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.