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Alaskan Glacial Classroom

Adventure awaits you.

February 5, 2016

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to live on a glacier?

The Juneau Icefield Research Program is accepting applications for its eight-week educational expedition. The opportunity is open to upper-level high school, undergraduate and graduate students who can earn university credits while participating.  

Students immerse themselves in a glacial outdoor classroom while traversing, hiking and skiing 120 kms across the Juneau Icefields in Alaska. Celebrating a 70th anniversary this year, the program is the longest running study of any glacier in the Western Hemisphere.

During the adventure, participants are involved in state-of-the-art scientific research, academic lectures and gain university credits.

NWCC’s Professor of Geography, Dr. Matthew Beedle, will spend his seventh year on the expedition this summer, but it’s his first as Director of Academics & Research.

Beedle first participated as a high school student and he has filled many roles over the years. He was part of the extensive safety team and a faculty member in the years that followed. Each experience continues to be an inspirational journey and he looks forward to every expedition.

“This is truly an experience of a lifetime,” says Beedle. “Not only are students immersed in the stunning scenery of our outdoor classroom, but one hundred percent of the time is spent with our amazing and talented program faculty. The wealth of knowledge is immeasurable.”

While Beedle maintains that the environment is challenging, applications can be accepted from those who have no prior expedition experience. Although, it is noted, that some ski experience definitely helps.

“We have students who come from all over the world,” continues Beedle. “Some come with wilderness experience, but some do not.”

The expedition might be the most extensive of their life for some participants, but it could be just the beginning for others.  Juneau Icefield Research Program alumni includes renowned explorers, like Kate Harris, named one of Canada’s Top 10 Adventurers by Explore Magazine and Dr. Stephen Squyres, who has participated in a number of NASA planetary missions.

The networking possibilities are invaluable, not only to students, but to participating faculty as well.

Northwest Community College is fortunate to have three of its University Credit Professors participating in this year’s research. Along with Beedle, Dr. Catharine White and Gordon Weary will be traversing the glacier with the Icefield Research team.

“I am looking forward to the expedition, as this will be my first experience with glacial landforms of this size,” says Weary.

Weary is excited to explore new terrain and anticipates incorporating new research and his experiences into NWCC’s Stewart & Telegraph Creek Field School (August, 2016) on his return.

If you are interested in applying for the eight-week Juneau Icefield Research Program, running June 24- August 19, 2016, please contact Matt Beedle at There are limited scholarships available.

For more information on the program visit:









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