Girls on Ice

Gulkana Glacier, Alaska
inspiring girls expeditions logo
Girls on Ice participants
Girls in Icy Fjords participants
student artwork

Inspiring Girls Expeditions empowers young women to lead and succeed through science, art, and wilderness exploration. The program runs 12-day tuition-free wilderness programs for 16- and 17-year-old girls that interweave scientific investigation, artistic inquiry, and backcountry travel, led by female-identifying instructor teams.

The program has three goals:

  1. Increase the participation and diversity of women in field sciences, art, and outdoor recreation.
  2. Foster young women’s self-confidence in their physical, intellectual, and leadership abilities while creating lifelong advocates for Earth science and wilderness stewardship.
  3. Support a network for current early-career scientists, artists, and guides through continuing development opportunities and collaboration.

Inspiring Girls Expeditions began in 1999 with the creation of our flagship mountaineering program, Girls on Ice, in Washington State. In 2012, with the support of the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center (AK CASC), a second Girls on Ice expedition was launched in Alaska primarily for Alaskan girls. Taking place each year on the USGS-monitored Gulkana Glacier, the team hikes, camps, and lives on the glacier, participating in daily science lessons, mountaineering excursions, art activities, and self-designed science projects. After a week in the backcountry, the last two days of the program are spent at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, where the team reflects on personal lessons and synthesizes their scientific findings by preparing a presentation to deliver their results to a public audience.

Inspiring Girls Expeditions has continued to grow at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since 2012. The first Girls in Icy Fjords expedition - a program that explores the interactions between glacial and marine ecosystems by sea kayak - launched in Seward in 2017. In 2018, Inspiring Girls received five years of funding from the Alaska EPSCoR program to develop two new expeditions: Girls on Water (exploring coastal ecosystems in Kachemak Bay) and Girls in the Forest (investigating fire regimes in Interior Alaska boreal forests). The first Girls on Water expedition ran in 2019, and Girls in the Forest will launch in 2021.

All expeditions are offered tuition-free so that any applicant can participate, regardless of their ability to pay.

For more information about the program, contact the Program Director, jcyoung6 [at] (Joanna Young) or the Program Coordinator, sjclement [at] (Sarah Clement). Read more about the program on the Inspiring Girls Expeditions website.