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Ann Bancroft        

Pioneering Polar Explorer; Educator; Activist for Women and Girls

Ann Bancroft is the first woman in history to cross the ice to the North and South Poles. In 1986, Ann Bancroft dogsledded 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from the Northwest Territories in Canada to the North Pole as the only female member of the Steger International Polar Expedition. In 1993, she led the American Women's Expedition to the South Pole, a 67-day expedition of 660 miles (1,060 km) on skis by four women.

Born in 1955 in Mendota Heights, Minn., Ann Bancroft's love of the outdoors began early in life. Aside from the two years she spent with her family in Kenya, East Africa (in fifth and sixth grades), Ann Bancroft was a student of Minnesota's vast wilderness. Her father often took her on camping and canoe trips in northern Minnesota. At age eight, she began to lead her own mini-expeditions, cajoling her cousins into accompanying her on backyard winter camping trips. Ann Bancroft's passion for polar adventures is matched by her enthusiasm for teaching children.

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from the University of Oregon, Ann Bancroft taught physical and special education in Minneapolis schools and coached softball, basketball, track and field, volleyball, and tennis. She also is an instructor for Wilderness Inquiry, an organization that helps disabled and able-bodied individuals enjoy the wilderness year round.

Ann Bancroft's other achievements include founding and leading the Ann Bancroft Foundation, a non-profit organization that celebrates the existing and potential achievements of women and girls. She has been featured in the book Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century (1998); inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame (1995); named Ms. magazine's "Woman of the Year" (1987); and honored with numerous awards for her accomplishments.

Most recently, Ann Bancroft, who was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, appeared in "Ennis' Gift," a documentary about learning differences produced by the Ennis Cosby Foundation, featuring celebrities who have dealt with learning disabilities, such as James Earl Jones, Henry Winkler, Danny Glover, and Bruce Jenner. With Ann Bancroft's polar expeditions have come severe tests of teamwork and leadership, as well as opportunities to shatter female stereotypes, making her a sought-after speaker and seminar leader on these topics among corporations, schools, and non-profit organizations.

Speech Topics

Lessons from the South Pole: Leadership and Teamwork

The Challenge of Adapting to Change

Taking Risks to Achieve Your Dreams


Ann Bancroft reflects upon her polar adventures and announces her next stop — the Himalayas.

Sitting on the porch of her vintage farmhouse that overlooks the St. Croix River, Ann Bancroft appeared more homebody than polar explorer the other day.

Polar explorer Ann Bancroft plans return to Arctic

Polar explorer Ann Bancroft is planning to head back to the Arctic in March, this time through Canada.

Polar explorer Ann Bancroft took on education mission

When Ann Bancroft was dog sledding 1,000 miles from the Northwest Territories to the North Pole in 1986 as part of the Steger International Polar Expedition, she didn't think much about being the only woman on a team that included seven men and 49 male sled dogs.

Explorer talks to students about dreams; Ann Bancroft comes to AHS for Women’s History Month

Ann Bancroft, an educator and explorer, was at Austin High School Tuesday morning giving a presentation about her travels through Antarctica to celebrate Women’s History month.

Explorer Ann Bancroft Visits Marine Elementary School

Marine Elementary School students were visited by a very special guest last week for participating in PowerUp’s WinterWarm-Up Challenge. World-famous author, teacher and adventurer Ann Bancroft visited Marine Elementary School to celebrate their Winter Warm-Up Challenge.

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