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World explorer to speak at UAF on Gobi Desert journey

Submitted by Deirdre Helfferich
Phone: 907-474-6923

04/15/08

Photo caption below.
Photo courtesy Helen Thayer, www.helenthayer.com.
Helen Thayer with camels in the Gobi Desert.


Photo caption below.
Photo courtesy Helen Thayer, www.helenthayer.com.
Nomad boys on a camel.
Helen Thayer, National Geographic Society explorer and educator, will speak about her experiences in the Gobi Desert at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 25 at Schaible Auditorium on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

Thayer, an affiliate professor of geographic education with the University of Alaska Geography Program, was the first woman to walk and ski to any of the world's poles when, at the age of 50, she trekked solo to the magnetic North Pole without a dog sled or snowmobile. Thayer received critical acclaim for her book "Polar Dream," which chronicles this expedition.

In 1994, just four years after walking to the magnetic pole, Thayer and her husband, Bill, spent one year with their dog, Charlie, in the Canadian Yukon and the Northwest Territories, studying and photographing three families of wild wolves at their den sites, hunting ranges and on the sea ice. The remarkable story is documented in Helen's book, "Three Among the Wolves."

Helen has gone on to explore other far corners of the world, including a 4,000-mile trek across the Sahara Desert and her recently completed expedition across the entire length of the 1,600-mile Gobi Desert. "Walking the Gobi: A 1,600-Mile Trek Across a Desert of Hope and Despair," Thayer's story of this fantastic journey, will be the subject of her free public lecture. A book signing will follow her talk.

Thayer will be in Fairbanks the week of April 21 working with UA Geography Program faculty on several K-12 initiatives. Recently, the program and the National Geographic Society entered into a long-term partnership to develop geography-based programs and education resources for teachers and students. The program will also serve as the home for the society's Alaska Geographic Alliance, one of 50 such state-based alliances that the National Geographic Society is supporting and helping to found.

The University of Alaska Geography Program brings speakers from around the world to address Alaska audiences.

CONTACT: Michael Sfraga, UA Geography Program director, or Katie Kennedy, program coordinator, at 907-474-7494 or via e-mail at katie.kennedy@alaska.edu.