Another Chapter Begins…
When I look backed and read the last blog I wrote from Antarctica on February 6th, 2013, I vividly recall how I felt at that time. Would I ever be back to Antarctica…this amazing place that had captured my heart and soul and led me to so many incredible moments in learning…subsequently sharing with others through education outreach? I truly didn’t know. You might want to read that blog post to gain some perspective on my previous experiences.
Now, poised to board a ship in Ushuaia Argentina this coming Friday, headed to the Antarctic Peninsula with my fellow Homeward Bound expedition members, I realize that once again, I have an incredible learning opportunity in front of me. I know the next few weeks will be full of adventure, education in many forms, and new possibilities. This time the focus is quite a bit different though.
Antarctica will be the backdrop for Homeward Bound, an exciting initiative providing leadership training for the future. Why Antarctica? The polar regions are responding faster to climate change than other places on our planet, and studying the Southern Ocean and Antarctica can provide critical insights into this global change and the influence of human activities on the environment.
I’m one of 76 women in science from around the world taking part in this inaugural program that aims to build a cadre of women in science and leadership over the next ten years. Twenty days at sea ahead for us, being challenged to increase our leadership skills, increase our visibility and voices world-wide, and to learn more about increasing the role of women in science and leadership on a global scale. As we develop our leadership skills in topics related to sustainable development, environmental concerns for our planet, and the roles of women at the leadership table, I’ll be forging strong bonds with the other participants, inspiring action and leading to extraordinary collaborations.
I love the diversity of this group! The range of work in science is incredible, and members of our group work as zoo nutritionists, ecosystem modelers, penguin experts, environmental educators, scientists studying krill and ocean food webs, as engineers and computer scientists, in environmental planning and policy, as university researchers/educators in a wide variety of science topics, as biodiversity experts, in plant science, and so much more! AND, here’s a cool thing…we range in age from 24 to 60. This means that within our group, we have women in early stages of their career, some finishing up advanced degrees; many in the middle of their career; and a number of seasoned veterans in many fields of science and education. All of us are focused on improving our leadership potential to continue to have an impact well into the future.
As many of you know, I retired from classroom teaching in June 2015, but that hasn’t slowed me down. If anything, it’s given me time to concentrate on making lasting contributions to education in new and exciting ways! Just a few short months ago I was in Arctic Svalbard, 78 degrees north, with an amazing group of Italian high school students (all except 2 of the 20 students were females!) and their teacher, (my polar science colleague Matteo). The Research and Education Svalbard Experience (RESEt Project) was a 7-day educational trip to take part in field experiences and explore the flora and fauna, glaciers, geology, and human impact on this Arctic region. It was incredible!
Visit the “Svalbard Expedition” tab on this website for more information/photos from that journey, and think (along with me) about how I’ve now traveled in the opposite direction on the globe…to the Southern Hemisphere…about to head back to Antarctica to learn more about how my leadership skills can be sharpened to help me continue to have an impact on science education. Inspiring learners of all ages to have the knowledge and personal connection to science and to ensure they work for the future protection of our planet is of critical importance to me.
Being a science communicator outside of the classroom began for me back in the 1990’s when I first got involved in science research in polar regions, particularly Antarctica. I realized that the gap between what scientists were researching and how that was shared with students, teachers, and the general public was really HUGE. Not many people knew much about polar regions and how what happens there is an indicator to what is has happened or is happening on our planet. Fast forward nearly 20 years, and we now know so much more. Polar regions are in the news, and programs on the Arctic and Antarctic are routinely on television and in the movies. Daily news is filled with information and debate on climate change. But, there is still so much work to be done in education and science communication! This is the time for the women of Homeward Bound to take action on not only this front but in so many other ways!
Follow our journey here, and also by checking out the Homeward Bound website:
You can also join our Facebook Community page: https://www.facebook.com/homewardboundprojects/
And, follow us on Instagram: @homewardboundprojects
As a mother, grandmother, and veteran educator who has helped her own children and many students along the way learn to value this planet, I want to challenge you to do the same. How can YOU make a difference each and every day?