CRYSTAL LAKE – Retired educator Betty Trummel may have returned home from a three-week science and leadership expedition to Antarctica, but she says her journey is far from over.
The former Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 teacher was selected as one of 76 women worldwide to participate in the Homeward Bound expedition, an Australian-based project founded by Fabian Dattner and Jess Melbourne-Thomas. Trummel said she raised about half of the necessary funds through a GoFundMe page and paid for the other half herself, an investment she felt was well worth it.
“What really drew me in was the chance to keep learning, to explore my leadership qualities and values, and get a strategy for how I want to keep my education outreach going forward,” she said.
The 60-year-old set off with her colleagues Dec. 2 from Ushuaia in Argentina. The project was a learning experience at sea – aiming to highlight the impact of women in science and introduce new leadership skills.
While on the trip, Trummel said every day was a new and enlightening experience. The group received instruction and lectures, went on field trips, completed leadership training and watched films, among other activities.
Trummel, who has been to Antarctica three other times, said she found herself often sitting and watching things unfold before her instead of worrying about taking photos or video.
“I really wanted to take a step back and be a really conscious observer of the environment because it’s something we need to protect and preserve,” she said.
One of her favorite parts of the trip was seeing all of the different wildlife in their natural habitat. What is happening at the North and South poles usually is a good indicator of what is happening on the planet, she said.
“It’s a good place to start scientific research,” she said.
Although the trip is over, Trummel said she hopes to continue teaching others about her experiences. She has several talks lined up in the near future to share her experiences and knowledge with all members of the community – young and old.
“I want to reach every age group, everybody has a chance to learn something,” she said.
Trummel is set to speak at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Luecht Conference Center in McHenry County College. The talk is co-sponsored by the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County and McHenry County College Sustainability Center. She also will stay involved with the Homeward Bound group and serve as a mentor for the next group that comes in.
“At age 60, I don’t feel like I’m done with being a woman in science. I don’t think you stop learning when you leave education, you don’t have to stop being a teacher,” she said. “I think my life as a teacher is opening up in whole new ways.”