As a child, Ann Bancroft led her cousins on backyard winter camping trips in Minnesota. Today, she’s still leading expeditions, but on a much larger scale.
Ann is one of the world’s foremost polar explorers. In 1986, she dogsledded 1,000 miles from the Northwest Territories in Canada to the North Pole, becoming the first known woman in history to make the journey.
She became the first woman to trek to both the North and South Poles when, in 1993, she led the American Women’s Expedition to the South Pole—a 67-day expedition of 660 miles on skis.
In 2001, Ann and fellow explorer Liv Arnesen became the first women to ski across Antarctica’s landmass—a 94-day, 1,717-mile journey.
These accomplishments have brought her much acclaim: she was named among Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year” in 2001; she was featured in the book Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century in 1998; she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995; and she was named Ms. Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” in 1987.
Ann’s achievements have also given her a platform, which she uses to inspire women and girls around the world to shatter female stereotypes and accomplish their dreams. In 1997, she founded the Ann Bancroft Foundation, the mission of which is “for every girl and woman in the United States who dares to dream to have the support, inspiration, and resources that will help make their dreams come true.”
The Foundation recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and has awarded $1.4 million to 3,900 Minnesota girls in the form of “Dare to Dream” and “Let Me Play” grants.
“Experience has so much power,” Ann said in an interview about the Foundation with the Pioneer Press. “It can help us connect to the world around us.
“It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can change everything. It can change the way the world spins for a young girl.”
Ann will bring her message to the 50th Honors Institute, June 5-10 at Loyola University in Chicago. She will be speaking in the second general session on Tuesday morning, June 6.
The lecture is sponsored by Leanne Jardine, Advisor Emeritus and former New York Regional Coordinator. Reserve your spot by May 12.
Ann and Liv’s current project is Access Water, which began in 2015. They led a team of eight women on a 60-day trek in India, starting in the Himalayas and going through the Ganges River. Along the way, the team visited with local organizations working to improve water conditions in the area.
The team plans to visit each continent every few years—the expedition will continue this fall along the Mississippi River. It culminates with a journey to Antarctica in 2026.
As much as Ann loves the outdoors, she also loves educating children. Millions of children in classrooms around the United States have followed her expeditions. She taught physical and special education in schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and she is currently an instructor for Wilderness Inquiry, an organization that helps both disabled and able-bodied individuals enjoy the outdoors.