Ellesmere Island Expedition: Press Release


Steger and Six Young Explorers Make Final Preparations for 60-Day, 1,400-mile Dogsled Expedition

MINNEAPOLIS – March 18, 2008 – Today famed polar explorer Will Steger announced he is departing on an international expedition to document the impact of global warming in the Arctic region. Steger will be joined by a team of six young explorers – from Norway, Great Britain, Canada and the United States – on a 60-day, 1,400-mile dogsled expedition across Ellesmere Island, which is the northernmost part of the North American continent.

The expedition team will depart on March 28 and is currently making final preparations on Baffin Island. The team will follow in the footsteps of Arctic explorers who traversed the region in the early 1900s and use their historical routes, journals and archived photos to document the disintegrating ice shelves, retreating glaciers and destruction of wildlife habitat.

Steger and his team members seek to inspire international cooperation in environmental stewardship, mobilize Generation Y to produce global warming solutions and educate youth by providing an eyewitness account of their experiences through videos, podcasts, photos, blog entries and lesson plans at www.globalwarming101.com.

Steger, the 2007 recipient of two prestigious awards from National Geographic and The Explorers Club, selected the team members, ages 21–28, for their accomplishments in exploration: two National Geographic grantees; two kite-skiing international record holders; the 2007 Iditarod “Rookie of the Year”; a polar historian; and Sam Branson, the son of Virgin Group’s Richard Branson who joined Steger on his 2007 expedition to Baffin Island.

“My team is composed of some of the brightest young explorers in the world,” Steger said. “They continue to inspire my efforts to solve global warming and will serve as excellent role models for future generations.”

The Ellesmere Island Expedition team is available for interviews until they depart on March 28.

The Ellesmere Island Expedition is produced by the Will Steger Foundation through partnerships with Fagen, Inc., the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the National Geographic Society, SuperValu, the Renewable Fuels Foundation, the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company and Piper Jaffray.

For more information about the Ellesmere Island Expedition, or to schedule an interview with Will Steger or one of the expedition team members, please contact Nicole Rom 612-278-7147 nicole@willstegerfoundation.org

About the Will Steger Foundation and Global Warming 101

Established in January 2006 by renowned polar explorer Will Steger, the Will Steger Foundation promotes change through education and advocacy. Global Warming 101 is the first initiative of the Will Steger Foundation and raises broad public awareness about global warming as witnessed through Will Steger’s polar expeditions. Global Warming 101 expeditions offer a unique view of people and places at the tipping point of climate change, while www.globalwarming101.com serves as an international platform for furthering education, discussion and activism, and sharing the experiences and updates from each global warming expedition.

About the Ellesmere Island Expedition

In March, Steger will lead six young explorers from four different countries – Norway, Great Britain, Canada and the United States – to document the impact of and inspire solutions to global warming. The team includes two National Geographic grantees, two kite-skiing international record holders, the 2007 Iditarod “Rookie of the Year,” a polar historian; and Sam Branson, who is the son of Virgin Group’s Richard Branson and joined Steger on his 2007 expedition to Baffin Island. People from around the world will be able to track the Ellesmere Island Expedition team on www.globalwarming101.com, which will include videos, images, podcasts and blog entries from team members.

Expedition Team Member Biographies:

Sam Branson, Age 22, Great Britain

Sam Branson had his first taste of an Arctic expedition in 2007 when he joined Will Steger for the Baffin Island Expedition. Sam took quite a liking to all things Arctic and at age 22 is one of the youngest members of the Ellesmere Island Expedition team.

The son of Virgin executive Sir Richard Branson, Sam grew up splitting his time between England and the Caribbean and has a great respect for nature and the elements. Sam has encountered all corners of the world – on a surf board, motocross bike and dog sled, to name a few – and enjoys finding unique ways to traverse the world and feed his love for extreme sports.

Sigrid Ekran, Age 27, Norway

Born in Norway, Sigrid is completing her Master of Arts in Northern Studies from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She placed 24th in the 2008 Iditarod and 20th in the 2007 Iditarod, receiving such notable awards including Rookie of the Year and Best Female Musher. Outside of her dogsledding awards, Sigrid’s passion and inspiration has come from the Norwegian school of explorers. Sigrid is committed to combining a career in conservation management and dogsled mushing.

Ben Horton, Age 24, United States

A budding photographer and adventurer, Ben Horton is the recipient of the National Geographic Society’s first Young Explorer award for research he recently completed on Cocos Island involving shark poachers. Ben is motivated by travel and extreme sports, with a yearning to make a difference for his generation. At 17, he traveled around the world with his brother, visiting numerous countries and living the adventures they had dreamed of. Today, Ben splits his time between Colorado and the rest of the world.

Eric McNair-Landry, Age 22, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

Eric spent most of his childhood in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Nunavut, where he was raised in a family of adventurers. Eric graduated with a degree in engineering from Acadia University and is considering continuing studies in architecture. In 2004–05 he took a year off of school to join the family Kites on Ice Expedition and became the first American/Canadian to haul un-resupplied to the South Pole. Eric has spent his time instructing kiting, guiding sea kayaking trips, working on film projects and at the Nunavut Visitors Center. He also holds the silver medal in the Canadian Ski Marathon. Needless to say, Eric is passionate about kiting. When there is no wind, he spends his time teaching himself computer graphics and Web site design.

Thorleif Tobias (Toby) Thorlieffson, Age 28, Norway

Toby finished his Master of Arts in polar history and politics at Simon Fraser University in the fall of 2006. He has since worked as a writer, lecturer and mountain guide focusing on environmental issues. In February 2007 he assisted the opening of the world’s first education base in Antarctica. Toby has circumnavigated most of the North Atlantic by sailboat and last summer he sailed to Franz Josef Land in the Russian Arctic. When Toby is not traveling he splits his time between the city of Oslo and Finse in the Norwegian mountains.

Sarah McNair-Landry, Age 22, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

No stranger to cold weather, Sarah grew up in Iqaluit from the age of three. Shortly after turning 17 she went on her first extended expedition, crossing the Greenland ice cap with her parents and older brother Eric. A year later she traveled to the South Pole on a 71-day kite-ski expedition with her mother and brother. In 2005 she traveled by kite- ski again, joining her father and brother in setting the speed record for crossing the Greenland Ice Cap, east to west. In 2006, Sarah traveled to the North Pole on a 100-day dogsled expedition with her father and two British explorers. Most recently, Sarah and her brother Eric returned to Greenland to cross the Ice Cap vertically by kite-ski, traveling 1,429 miles/2,300 km over the course of two months. When she’s not off chasing the winds across the Arctic, Sarah is busy chasing her dreams of becoming a filmmaker. After graduating from high school in Quebec, she took courses at the New York Film Academy, studying digital filmmaking in New York City.


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