Inspiring Girls Expeditions empowers young women to lead and succeed through science, art, and wilderness exploration.
What We Do
Inspiring Girls Expeditions leads unique, FREE, wilderness science education programs for high school girls. Each summer a team of 8-9 teenage girls and 3 instructors spend 12 days exploring and learning about glaciers and the alpine landscape or fjord in which the expedition is based. They conduct scientific field studies with our team of professional glaciologists, ecologists, mountain guides, and artists.
The girls on the team also challenge themselves and gain self-confidence in their physical, intellectual, and social abilities. 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, regardless of whether or not they decide to specialize in science in college.
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. We encourage the girls to observe and think like scientists by making observations and inferences. They develop their own experiments to test ideas and answer questions.
The wilderness setting and single gender field team inspires young women’s interest in science and provides a challenging environment that increases their physical and intellectual self-confidence.
We focus on creating a diverse team, and emphasize providing this experience to those girls who might not otherwise be able to have an opportunity like this.
Girls on Ice was launched in 1999 when a team of five girls and two instructors, Michele Koppes and Erin Pettit, traveled up the south fork of the Cascade River.
They followed the trail along the river until it ended. Then, they bushwhacked, following an old map with notes made by some of the first glaciologists back in the 1950s. Finally, they crested the ridge to view the beautiful South Cascade Glacier. During their week camped on the glacial moraine, they dug snow pits, explored crevasses, identified alpine plants, watched storms approach, and listened to each others stories. They made and tested hypotheses and learned that science can be messy, exhilarating, and surprising. The mountain environment tested their physical capabilities and helped the girls form strong bonds. Each member learned to push their comfort zone in order to learn and grow.
Since 1999, Erin has led 13 more teams of girls to explore the alpine zone and mentored nearly 20 new instructors to help continue Girls on Ice. In 2002 we moved the expeditions to Mount Baker to avoid bushwhacking!
The Girls on Ice Alaska expedition was started in 2012 by a few graduate students from the University of Alaska Fairbanks: Marijke Habermann, Barbara Reyes-Trüssel, and Joanna Young. Inspired by Erin's Girls on Ice expeditions, and with her mentorship, they created a similar experience that is uniquely adapted to the Alaska setting.
Today, our expeditions have touched the lives of over 200 girls and women, and we are excited to announce the beginning of new expeditions: Girls in Icy Fjords (Claudine Hauri) and Girls on Ice Switzerland (Marijke Habermann). These new expeditions will allows us to offer more girls a transformative experience and to expand to different fields of earth science. To incorporate these new programs, our organization is now called Inspiring Girls Expeditions!