Applications open for Inspiring Girls Expeditions

By Heather McFarland, International Arctic Research Center

Inspiring Girls Expeditions invites applications for its summer 2021, tuition-free, wilderness science education programs.

Participants learn techniques in art, among other skills.

The expeditions are open to 16- and 17-year-old girls. Alaskans are encouraged to apply, and expeditions target minoritized youth who may have experienced barriers accessing science- and outdoor-focused programs. Participants are selected through a competitive application process focusing on passion for science, art and the outdoors, rather than academic grades or past achievements.

The program is run through the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center with support from Alaska National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

2021 Expeditions

Alaska’s 2021 expeditions will include mountaineering on Gulkana Glacier, sea kayaking in Northwestern Fjord, and packrafting on the Chena River. Teams of nine girls spend 12 days exploring glacier terrain, icy fjords or boreal forests, while gaining a greater understanding of ecosystem connections in each of these environments.

“Inspiring Girls Expeditions offers a unique opportunity to get to know the landscape through science, art and physical exploration,” 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 professional scientists, wilderness guides and artists.

“One of the best parts of the program is seeing nine girls arrive as strangers and leave as best friends, having built a supportive community while challenging themselves to learn new things and having fun together,” said Clement.

The program welcomes cisgender girls, transgender girls and any girl-identified youths, as well as gender nonconforming and nonbinary youths.

Inspiring Girls Expeditions hopes to run in-person expeditions during summer 2021, but a final decision will not be made until spring 2021, when the status of COVID-19 is clearer. If in-person expeditions are not feasible, virtual programs or short-duration in-person trips will be available.

The last day to register to start an application is Jan. 22, 2021. For more information or to learn more about the application process, please visit

CONTACT: Sarah Clement,