Youth board member for Girls on the Run Michelle Casas recently talked with Wood River Valley native McKenna Peterson about her film "Shifting Ice+Changing Tides". A free screening is planned for Tuesday, March 15th at 5:30 p.m. in the Community Campus Auditorium. It will also be featured at the Friday March 11th Backcountry Film Festival to be held in Ketchum.
MICHELLE: You and the rest of the women on your team really focused on limiting your environmental footprint and did so by sailing and climbing across the region. Did it help you realize something particularly unexpected or surprising about climate change, the world around you, or even yourself?
MCKENNA: Being immersed in nature and fostering a love and connection to the natural environment is what initially made me aware of the changing climate. While in Greenland - the effect that climate change is having on the world is more obvious than what I am used to seeing on a day to day basis here at home. Everything from talking with local villagers about how their weather patterns have shifted to not finding any sea ice where there was supposed to be sea ice opened our eyes a little. It was a reality check. The hardest part was the sailing, I had no sailing experience previous to the expedition. Learning to sail was very enjoyable - a new sport!
MICHELLE: What did you hope to accomplish from this film?
MCKENNA: The goal of the film is to bring awareness to the changing climate as well as promote female participation in outdoor activity. We wanted to show women (especially young women) that it is possible to dream big and make your dreams a reality. We had no clue what we were doing before this trip. It was a pipe dream and, together, we were able to figure it out and make it a reality. I also think it is important to show how we worked together as a team to make the expedition a success. We each played a role and it wouldn't have worked without the entire collective of the group.
MICHELLE: Your expedition team was female led. Was there a specific reason for this? Do you think there was something unique about being surrounded by females who were passionate about the same things as you?
MCKENNA: We were all fairly close friends going into the planning process. It took us over a year to plan and fundraise for the expedition and throughout that time we became a very tight knit group. We were all passionate about skiing and the environment previous to the expedition. Three of us participated in SheJumps Alpine Finishing School in 2012 which is where the idea originally sprouted. We all agreed that the way women work together in the mountains is different than what we had experienced working with men in the mountains. The female dynamic worked very well within our group and throughout the expedition. What we were doing was dangerous and difficult, I'm definitely grateful to have had 5 amazing women by my side.
MICHELLE: How has being very involved in winter sports helped you feel more confident as woman?
MCKENNA: Being an athlete for my entire life has definitely helped shape my confidence; confidence in my body, my decision making, and my ability. Through sport I have experienced a wide range of obstacles, failures and successes. Learning to cope and adapt to what is thrown your way is an important life lesson. The people you meet and friendships that grow from sport and activity are uniquely special. My closest relationships are with old teammates or friends that I have made through skiing.
MICHELLE: What would you say to young girls, who might be afraid of taking risks and exploring outside of their comfort zones?
MCKENNA: Never back away from anything because you are afraid of failure. Go for it. Fail. Get back up and try again. Eventually, you will succeed.
MICHELLE: How do you think that girls participating in the GOTR program can make a difference in their communities, or worldwide?
MCKENNA: GOTR is a great opportunity for young girls to break out of their comfort zone and find inspiration. Whether that be in making new friends, realizing that they are capable, discovering a passion for running, or simply having fun; it's an avenue for growth. My little sister, Dylan, was lucky to participate in GOTR when she was younger and I know that it had a positive impact on her life.