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By The Skanner News
Published: 19 January 2021

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Inspiring Girls Expeditions, which offers free, 12-day wilderness science leadership and learning adventures for high school girls, is seeking applicants for its summer 2021 expeditions.

The programs provide 16- and 17-year-old young women opportunities to be curious, creative and discover their interest in science, art and wilderness travel with professional scientists, artists and wilderness guides. An overarching goal of Inspiring Girls is to create an inclusive and equitable culture in the fields of science and outdoor recreation.

No specific skills are required for expedition participants, all equipment is provided and grades are not considered in applications, said Ryan Brown, the program manager for Inspiring Girls. All interested youth, including those that don’t feel like they fit the “typical” image of a scientist or outdoors person, and those from backgrounds or identities that have historically been marginalized in science and outdoor recreation, are encouraged to apply.

Each expedition encourages girls to ask questions, conduct science experiments, learn to see the landscape in the ways an artist would and work as a team while traveling safely through the wilderness.

“Our society continues to underestimate what girls are capable of, especially in science, in art and in outdoor adventure,” said Erin Pettit, an associate professor in Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences who founded the program in 1999 as a graduate student.

“We want to bring out girls’ natural curiosity, inspire their interest in science, connect the arts and sciences and empower and encourage trust in their physical, intellectual and leadership abilities in a less competitive atmosphere free of gender roles.”

The headquarters of Inspiring Girls Expeditions moved to Oregon State with Pettit when she joined the CEOAS faculty in 2019. She is a glaciologist whose research focuses on glacier and ice sheet dynamic such ice/ocean interactions, ice-core climate history and ice-shelf stability. The program also has branches in Alaska, Colorado, Canada and Switzerland. 

Planned expeditions for summer 2021 include learning about glaciers and volcanoes by mountaineering in Alaska and Washington; exploring the fjords and coastlines of Alaska by kayaking; studying a boreal forest ecosystem by packrafting a river in Alaska; and discovering alpine landscape by rock-climbing in Colorado.

How to apply

Applications must be started by Jan. 22 and completed by Jan. 29. To learn more and apply, visit inspiringgirls.org. Expeditions are planned in June, July and August. If public health conditions don’t allow the expeditions to proceed, the programs can be converted to virtual events if needed, Brown said.

About the OSU: College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS): The college is renowned for research excellence and academic programs that span the earth, ocean and climate sciences, as well as the human dimensions of environmental change. CEOAS inspires scientific solutions for Oregon and the world. 

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