2011 Post Journey Update

Well team, we did it!

The Students on Ice Antarctic University Expedition 2011 has come to a close. Although we have said our fond-farewells, it's clear that this educational expedition is just the beginning of something much greater. All of us have the capacity to take our Antarctic experiences and make a difference in our homes, communities, countries and beyond. Antarctica has inspired us to consider and change the way we interact with the natural world and each other. We know we can catalyze meaningful change at this critical time in the Earth's history. Let's lean on each other for the guidance, motivation, inspiration and focus that will help us achieve lofty goals. 

This expedition would not be possible without the generous support of our many partners including ArcticNet, the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, the Canadian Circumpolar Institute, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Polar Commission, Carleton University, the Government of Canada program for the International Polar Year, LAN Airlines, Luleå University of Technology, McGill University, the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP/GRID-Arendal, the United Nations Programme on Youth, the University of Alberta, the University of California (Los Angeles), the University of Ottawa, and the University of St Andrews.

Many thanks to each of our expedition partners, the staff team and especially our students, whom without their motivation, interest and commitment to their education, this experience would not have been possible. 

I'm also thrilled to announce the birth of my beautiful daughter, Nellie Maise Green, on March 1, 2011. Diz and Fletcher are happy and healthy.

In the expedition spirit,

Geoff Green
Founder, Executive Director and Expedition Leader
Students on Ice


SOI Antarctic University Expedition 2011: Impressions 

The following impressions were contributed by students while crossing the Drake Passage en route back to South America...

General Impressions

-It is now that my life begins...

-Here, Antarctica, hope you’re keeping well, kiddo! Catch you soon, stay cool!

-If we protect the poles, we can protect th planet... and everything in between!

-Antarctica, I will be back for sure!

-This expedition has inspired me to pursue a career in polar research. Until next time, dear Antarctica


-I LOVE whales

-Thank you to SOI family, to students, staff and crew for making this dream come true

-Glaciology (our favourite cousin of geology)

-I LOVE geology

-Glaciology is pretty fly

-I second this! I LOVE ice!

-Oceanography is awesome

-Thanks SOI for making dreams come true

-Thanks SOI for helping me learn things about myself that I didn’t know - the push, the pull and the eye-opening

-Thank you Niki for being amazing

-Thank you SOI for giving me the opportunity to grow as a leader and team player, helping to shape the person I will be in the future!

-Thank you SOI for leading us toward Antarctica - Thanks to everybody here for helping to create this experience!

-I love the Southern Ocean and the continent it helps keep so isolated

-One feels very small in Antarctica...the trick, I think, is to feel big at home, and let others know what I learned

-I got spanked by the Drake (thanks for the quote, Geoff)

-I am not always good with words to explain how I feel, but I am thankful for the SOI family and my professor for showing me this most beautiful place on Earth. I love you guys and I will be forever grateful

-This experience with SOI was really strong for me. I have a hard time explaining how and what will result from this, but I know it is something different. I want to share my SOI experience so that more people are aware of the beauty of our planet.

-Thanks for giving me this opportunity that has been a very unique one! I am very grateful.

-Antarctica is my first true love!

-Maybe not mine, but I’m definitely addicted

-I have ice in my veins!

-Didn’t know if I had them in me, but my sea legs were there all along...”Au Naturel”

-Antarctica is a natural wonder!

-Never stop dreaming

-Antarctica: the place where penguins fly!

Antarctica is...


...a place to remember, forever

...the most beautiful place


...steeped in history and adventure

...threatened by overuse in more accessible areas

...a place beyond my imagination and expectations

...the gem of our planet

...everyone’s to look after




...like nowhere else on Earth


...a place where you feel very small in the universe

...beautiful, pure, innocent, fragile, untainted by human activity: let’s keep it that way

...a winter wonderland

...a match for the human imagination

...a place to let me see my potential

...God’s sublime creation

...the best classroom

...peaceful, serene, pure: back to the essentials


...a global responsibility

...a place where the world can work together for the better of something other than our own self-interests


...closer than you think

...like another planet

...smelly (guano)


...meant to remain this way

...a beginning


...my favourite polar region

...my second favourite polar region

...better than I expected

...home away from home

...silent, but noisy with life

...Incredible! Hard to describe but induces strong and powerful feelings


...floating dream

...worth protecting





...not ours or anyone’s


...breathtaking getaway

...too much for words or photos

...the sleeping giant of the ecosystem

...filled with peace and tranquility

...my world

...an example of the benefit of being isolated from humans, but also of the damage we still reap

...Mr. Drake: Keep protecting Antarctica. Please give people a hard time. If they don’t experience it they will never know 

Where do you see Students on Ice in 10 years?

-Doing amazing things!

-Growing, continuing, thriving....

-Strongest ambassador force for Antarctica

-A driving force in schools across Canada for raising awareness for polar sustainability

-Having inspired hundreds of future leaders, scientists, policy makers, teachers, environmentalists

-A force to contend with on a universal/geological scale

-Doing (more!) research

-As a university

-Coordinating environmental educational field courses in collaboration with universities from all over the world.

-Being a world-renowned group for environmental change and environmental protection

-A role model

-The environmental voice of youth from around the world


-Having their own ship

-Paving the way for youth world wide to connect to the poles, nature, others… and themselves

-Still going strong

-A strong alumni network of leaders

-Even more EPIC

-Known worldwide and growing stronger

-A repository for educational information/knowledge about the polar regions

-Able to connect schools around the world with the poles during expeditions… establish mentorship/buddy programs between educators, expeditioners & students at different levels of their studies


-Educational expeditions to Mars!

-With more post-expedition alumni outreach

-Known worldwide and growing stronger

-Having their own ship

-Paving the way for youth worldwide to connect to the poles, nature, others...and themselves

-Still going strong

-Strong alumni network of leaders

-Bigger and even more epic

-A repository for data (info about the poles with updates in science summarized on the website): start building “Polarpedia”

-Leading my students to Antarctica/Arctic

-Hopefully coming back from another successful expedition

-Running an alumni trip

-Keeping same values and affecting more people (domino effect)

-As good and amazing as they are today...the BEST!

-On a ship with an amazing crew, and me on it.

-Not just as a body running expeditions, but an organization that one can belong to

-Bright future

-Inspiring more people, causing change in the world

-Taking positions on a public/political level on environmental issues

What are you fearful of?

-Nothing will change and that the status quo will go on killing the planet

-Humanities’ power

-Returning to an Antarctica that is different

-Not knowing how to truly share my experiences

-People not caring about the environment or other humans

-Fur seals ;)

-Not turning this experience into the changes we need

-Antarctica being the next environment humans ruin

-That people get old before they get smart

-Sustainability only being a trend

-Living a life that is based too much on trying to go with the flow: Step out and go on the road less traveled!


-Not achieving all my goals and living up to my full potential

What are you hopeful about?

-The Future! We can face the problems ahead of us: environmental, economical, social, political

-The world coming together to solve our problems

-More people protecting the poles in their everyday lives

-Returning to Antarctica again

-Being able to integrate my passion for environmental sciences with my current research/academic abilities

-The Southern Ocean being just as cold the next time I swim in it

-Politicians will have an opportunity to experience Antarctica like we have

-Finding my place on this planet

-The power of dedicated individuals to create change

-International collaboration toward a solution for major problems revolving around a willingness to be generous with resources

-World peace

-Staying close with the Students on Ice family

-Achieving all my goals and dreams

-Keeping in touch with all the awesome people I have met

-Drake Lake, not Drake Shake



-Getting a really awesome job one day

-Increasing awareness about climate change

-Coming back to the Poles

-Having the Poles remain the same

-the resiliency of krill

-Using the things I learned in conversations with mentors to fina a job and lifestyle in which I can thrive

-Antarctica: May the force be with you forever!

-Understanding that where you are now is not where you will always be....and that’s okay

-That the number of people working toward sustainability continues to increase. That I can share the Antarctic experience with my grandkids, not only in story, but in experience

-A more sustainable future, a greener economy, and strong climate action at a global level

-The future!

-Graduate School

-That people will ‘get it’ soon re. our impact on the planet

-Showing these polar regions to my friends

-To take advantage of my SOI experience for what is coming next

-Returning to Antarctica to conduct research

-Keeping in touch with everyone!

-More people being interested in polar protection

-Integrating my love of science with my passion for music in a way that both can thrive

-That I can make an impact back home and throughout the world

-Going to the Arctic

-Experiencing life!

-Humanity growing up!


-The resilience of nature

What are you thankful for?

-This opportunity!

-Latin dancing

-The Ushuaia staff and crew


-Good friends and good times


-The people

-This life-changing experience

-My parents, for giving me this gift

-Students on Ice family

-New friends

-Arctic and Antarctic Terns



-Seeing the wandering albatross

-Ice and snow

-All the seals!

-Fantastic weather!

-Living in a place and time where one can contribute

-My parents for supporting me

-Our luck

-For traveling to the end of this world with the most amazing group ever!

-Being able to participate on this expedition

-To be here and feel the connection to Planet Earth


-Surviving the Drake/My photos to share with others/The peeps I met on the trip/Being able to smell penguin poop

-This entire experience

-New friendships

-The expedition

-All of you

-Having my dreams come true

-Living through the Polar Swim

-Life ;)

-Setting foot on the last frontier

-Weddell Seals!

-Penguins and drinking tea with icebergs

-All the traveling I get to do

-The quiet moment at Paradise Bay

-Good Karma

-Ice-strengthened hull

-Leopard and elephant seals

-Going on this trip

-Reflecting on the summit in Paradise Bay in the silence and beauty of nature

-The chance to meet all these great people and share this trip with them

I plan to...

...come back!

...learn more

...save the world

...plant more trees and grow a garden

...do everything

...always be a student of life

...experience the Arctic

...bring greater awareness toward the Poles

...keep Antarctica in my thoughts and heart forever

...share this experience with everyone I can, and hopefully return one day

...share my experiences through classroom presentations, and maybe a photo exhibit

...never stop exploring

...never stop learning

...never stop smiling

...continue my adventures of the world and learn as much as possible!

...go to the Arctic, and back to Antarctica

...pass my exams

...share my experiences with small town high-school students, and encourage them to follow dreams to grow as scientists

...enjoy life and do amazing things...live the best life

...keep trying to make dreams a reality


...fight tha haterz and bring it twice as hard next time

...come back in 2013! Tell youth about the beauty of Antarctica, create an science outreach program to teach youth about the Polar regions

...Sleep in a non-moving bed

...join BAS


...go places! And bring people with me

...keep smiling!

...learn Spanish and move to Canada

...travel Pole to Pole

...help organize the IPY 2012 conferences

...become friends with a humpback

...share my experiences with family and friends

...swim the English Channel

...planning kills spontaneity! I’m going to wing it!


...live simply

...plant a garden and finish wood work

...try to spend more time with family

...return to Antarctica, stat!

...return the penguin I stashed in my bag on the next visit

...learn more and share my passion with others

...inspire others

...be more involved in polar issues from home

...find my own way to share this experience with others


March 4, 2011

Passing the Torch

A letter from the home office, after a journey to the bottom of the world

By David Rusak, The Walrus

Despite — or possibly because of — all the unspoilt natural beauty I took in during Students On Ice’s Antarctic University Expedition 2011, one of the most striking sights was a place of human intervention. Our group’s last day of visiting Antarctic terrain began at six a.m., landing inside a horseshoe-shaped caldera, the appropriately sinister-sounding Deception Island. The sun we had so consistently enjoyed throughout the trip had given way to a gloomy fog. This enshrouded the rundown structures and detritus left behind by early twentieth-century whalers, who made great use of the island until the Depression. The excesses of this industry were horrific: after hunting blue whales into scarcity, the hunters moved on to the next-most-profitable species, and then the next one after that, until a combination of ruined populations, changing public opinion, and long-overdue regulation put a stop to large-scale whaling in the ’60s. As if chiming in, the volcano at Deception Island erupted near the same time, laying waste to both more recent scientific stations and the whalers’ old boilers, tanks, and other structures. For our part, we wandered from over the ashy earth, stepping around chunks of brick and fragments of barrels, jarred after our time together in nature to see a place so littered with human debris.

It’s hard to conceive of the gulf between world views: the whalers hunted down, boiled, and dumped the remains of thousands of whales into this bay; mere days before, we had been scrambling out onto our ship’s outer decks in forty-five-knot winds, whooping and cheering at our first glimpse of a humpback fluke. We cherished their company as mysterious fellow mammals; the whalers created giant factory ships for the most efficient extraction of whale oil, and resorted to tactics like the deliberate wounding of calves, whose cries would attract still more victims. At least this insane style of hyper-exploitation — of those animals, in this area — has now ended. It’s a sign that humanity can, in fact, do better.

Another good sign is the quality of character of the students I travelled with. The gravity and complexity of conservation, particularly in a place as distant and different from home as Antarctica, was made clear to us by the professors and other experts who taught us about their respective fields on the trip. But, seeing the questions and interest at their presentations, it’s not hard to imagine a group this motivated and curious rising to the challenge. Students On Ice provided an ideal venue for this needed cross-pollination of disciplines, for making the connections the students will need if they want to do science in the polar regions, and for fostering the kind of personal engagement that really drives people to make a difference.

In his talk to us at the end of the expedition, one of the favourite phrases that SOI founder, executive director, and expedition leader Geoff Green returned to was “passing the torch.” It scarcely needs saying what a pleasure it was for me to join his group on this journey — but seeing in action their earnest commitment to spreading these values and knowledge was another pleasure besides.