Real. Strong. Women.

Reflecting on Antarctica

Following up with Terri Jump (Gamma Mu, Ball State University), our winter Lyre cover story, after her return from Antarctica

By Lauren Filippini (Alpha Chi, Butler University)

When I last talked to Terri Jump in November 2019, she was waiting to board the ship that would take her and 98 other women STEM leaders from 33 countries to Antarctica. Part of the fourth Homeward Bound expedition, Terri was thrilled to cap off 11 months of learning and leadership development with this journey to the southernmost regions of our world.

Now returned to her winter home of Florida, Terri looks back on her experience with reverence and a drive to keep working to combat the climate crisis. “I have learned through this life-changing experience in Antarctica that our world is an amazingly beautiful, fragile and connected place that deserves and needs our care and support,” she reflects.

A view of Antarctica from the ship

Terri’s journey kicked off from South America, where she and her cohort spent two days sailing across the Drake Passage, known as one of the most dangerous water crossings, to reach the edge of Antarctica. What followed was 12-hour days of programming and learning, covering everything from the local wildlife population to leadership development and strategic planning. Each woman in the cohort presented to her colleagues about her area of expertise; Terri shared about her work in the Florida Everglades, where she is a volunteer boat captain for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

The lessons also included deep dives into women’s empowerment, of encouraging the women to push for a seat at the table in the global conversations about climate change. “In many ways, our stories are the same; we’ve struggled with gender, equity and finding our voice,” Terri says. “We left (the expedition) confident in ourselves. Being visible doesn’t have to do with vanity. Visibility is important as leaders. We need to be able to have our voices heard.”

The lessons continued off the ship, as Terri and her colleagues climbed aboard Zodiac boats for excursions on the icy waters, visited the established research stations on the continent, and contributed to “citizen science” through animal and bird surveys. Seals, penguins and whales were just some of the creatures that Terri encountered.

Outside of learning hours, the women spent time bonding together. They hosted a comedy club one night, and another they each crafted a quilt square representing their home. The women switched roommates frequently; Terri roomed with women from across the globe, from Australia to Pakistan.

“The most meaningful part for me and my colleagues – now I think of them as sisters – was the 98 other women on the ship,” Terri says. Even after the trip, the women stay connected with WhatsApp chats and support each other in their endeavors. (Terri even sent along a photo of The Lyre with her cover story – read the original story here!)

The Homeward Bound Cohort 4 members were in Antarctica for the 60th anniversary of the Antarctica Treaty that marks Antarctica as a place of peace, science and international cooperation.

And in her efforts to protect the planet, Terri draws inspiration from the Antarctic environment she experienced. “Here you have this place that has such raw, pristine, spectacular beauty that words can’t describe, and there was sometimes a deep sadness because it’s struggling,” she says, pointing to the warmer temperatures and increased precipitation that is changing the habitats for the animals there. But she doesn’t give up.

“We all came home in hope, that we’re not throwing in the towel,” she says. “We’re all going to give this our very best, to let others know of our experience and what we can do, with a commitment to be bold in our careers and our lives.”

Terri plans to commit herself to advocacy, whether it’s her work at the conservancy or speaking engagements and presentations. She is also working with Ball State University to create a virtual field trip of her experience in Antarctica.

“I’m going to do everything I can to leave a positive legacy,” she says. “I want to leave this planet better than I found it.”

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