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Steger Will (United States)

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Steger Will

Steger Will

© Steger Will

Will Steger is not only a world-famous polar explorer but also a prominent environmental protectionist of the Arctic, and one that is heeded. His dog-sled expeditions on the Arctic pack ice have marked the history of polar exploration.

Born in 1943 in Richfield in Minnesota, Will Steger got his Geology B.A. and his Education M.A. at the University of St Thomas at St Paul in Minnesota.
He taught secondary-level science for three years. He left the town of his birth (Minneapolis) in 1970 to move to Ely, a wild, backward area of Minnesota. There, he founded a winter school and devised innovative courses for adapting to life in the wild. He spent ten years working there.

Explorers Club, New YorkSteger received his B.S. in Geology and M.A. in Education at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, and taught science for three years at the secondary level. In 1970, he moved from his birthplace in suburban Minneapolis to the wilderness north of Ely, Minnesota. There, he founded a winter school and developed innovative wilderness programs where he worked for 10 years. In 1991, Steger received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Westminster College, Salt Lake City, UT. His unique ability to blend extreme exploration with cutting-edge technology has allowed him to reach millions of people around the world, by pioneering in online education. Over 20 million students followed the 1995 International Arctic Project via on-line daily journal entries and received the first-ever transmission of a digital photograph from the North Pole.

Honours and Awards

Will Steger has also the gift of collecting awards. Among these,let's mention: the National Geographic Society's highly prized 1995 John Oliver La Gorce medal (the former gold medal). In 1996, he became the ‘National Geographic Society's first Explorer-in-Residence'; one year later, he received the ‘Explorers Club's Finn Ronne Memorial Award'. In 2006, he pocketed the famous Lindbergh Award. That same year, the Governor, Tim Pawlenty, asked him to join the "Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group", a panel of people charged to come up with a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota by a substantial amount. In 2007, Steger received the coveted "Lowell Thomas Award" from the'' Explorers Club' for his work on global warming.

In 1986, at the North PoleWill Steger is, in addition, the founder of the Global Centre of Environmental Education at Hamline University (St Paul, Minnesota) and of the World School for Adventure Learning at the University of St Thomas, created in 1993.

His Main Feats

  • 1986: His 57-day dog-sled expedition to the North Pole (completely independently) accompanied in particular by Paul Shurke, Ann Bancroft and four other adventurers coming from the USA, Canada and New Zealand (Geoff Caroll and Brent Boddy).
  • 1988: Preparatory expedition for the great Antarctic crossing. 1,500-mile south/north crossing of Greenland.
  • 1989-90: Will Steger took part in one of the expeditions that most marked the history of the 6th Continent, the crossing of the Antarctic by foot, from west to east, with dog sleds. 220 days of ice, 3,750 miles covered, 36 handpicked dogs, together with Jean-Louis Etienne, Victor Boyarsky, Qin Dahe, Keizo Funatsu and Geoff Somers.
  • 1995: Crossing of the Arctic Ocean (with dog sleds and kayaks), from Russia to Canada via the North Pole. In the five-member team, there were two women, Julie Hanson (USA) and Takato Takono (Japan).
  • 1997: Solo attempt in summer to cross the Arctic pack ice from the North Pole. Failed.
  • 2006: Global Warming 101. 1,250-mile exploration in the Land of Nunavut and encounters with local populations. This expedition was launched by the Will Steger Global Warming 101 foundation and sought to raise public opinion on climate change. See our coverage of this event.
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