Tuition-free girls’ wilderness expedition program accepts applications

Inspiring Girls Expeditions is inviting applications for its summer 2022, tuition-free, backcountry science and art education programs.

The expeditions are open to 16-18-year-old high school girls. Alaskans are encouraged to apply, and expeditions target youths who may have experienced barriers accessing science and outdoor-focused programs. Cis and trans girls, as well as gender-nonconforming and nonbinary youth, are welcome.

Participants are selected through a competitive application process that focuses 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 additional funding from the Alaska NSF Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.
Alaska’s 2022 expeditions will include mountaineering on the Gulkana Glacier, sea kayaking in Kachemak Bay and packrafting on the Chena River. Teams of nine girls spend 12 days exploring glacier terrain, intertidal zones or boreal forests while gaining a greater understanding of ecosystem connections in each of these environments.

The Girls on Water 2021 team takes a break on a beach in Kachemak Bay.
(Photo by Laura Jackson)

Inspiring Girls Expeditions offers a unique opportunity to explore and understand the landscape through several different lenses.

“Participants might learn about a mountain near base camp first through a scientific lens that helps explain how it was formed, next through an artistic lens that views it through different colors and textures, and finally through a backcountry travel lens that helps in understanding the safest route to the mountain summit,” said program director Joanna Young.
Young women engage in this remote setting under the leadership of an instructor team composed of professional scientists, backcountry guides and artists.
“It is so wonderful to see the friendships and lifelong memories that develop over the 12-day expedition,” said program coordinator Sarah Clement. “We regularly hear from alumni that they have stayed in touch with their friends from the expedition, even years later.”

Girls in the Forest 2021 team members practice taking tree core samples in the boreal forest outside of Fairbanks.
(Photo by Naomi Hutchquist)

Inspiring Girls Expeditions also provides participants with opportunities for post-expedition mentoring and to continue learning through their alumni network.

The last day to register to start an application is Jan. 24, 2022. For more information or to learn more about the application process, please visit