Mankato science teacher to join annual expedition to Antarctica

Mankato teacher Julia Battern is headed to Antarctica.  (FOX 9)

From the Boundary Waters to Glacier National Park, Julia Battern loves spending time in the great outdoors. But in a few weeks, she'll be heading out on her biggest adventure yet.

"Very excited. It's starting to really feel real, especially the last couple of weeks," said Battern.

"Antarctica was never on the radar, never on the bucket list, never thought it would be an option."

Next month, Battern will leave her classroom at Mankato East High School, where she teaches biology and wildlife ecology, to join a 12-day expedition to Antarctica to see the effects of climate change on the continent firsthand.

She is being sponsored by a local utility company, Onward Energy, to fly to the southern tip of Argentina, where she'll board a boat for the 36-hour voyage across the Drake Passage, which can have some of the choppiest waters in the world.

"If I'm a little bit nervous about anything it's probably that part of the trip because they say it can either be the Drake Lake they call it where it is really smooth or the Drake Shake where it's 36 hours of pretty rough water," said Battern.

Once the ship is docked along the Antarctic Peninsula, Battern will hear from experts about climate science, leadership, and sustainability with 150 other teachers, scientists, and energy company representatives from 35 different countries.

The group will also go on daily research tours to hike and look for wildlife on land.

"I think penguins. Possibly some whale watching and some seals I think are some of the animals I remember learning about definitely, and I'm sure we'll see some other animals like birds," said Battern.

Battern plans to share what she learns with her own students and help re-write the curriculum for high school science students across the state in the hopes of teaching them how to make a difference to the environment even if they're half a world away.

"Sometimes we don't always realize my decisions here in Minnesota could potentially have a huge impact on a place like Antarctica and that's an important part of the science and the story we are trying to tell," said Battern.