Stephanie Parent’s passion for the sustainability of the planet blossomed during her time as a student at Santa Monica High School, where she earned extra credit by doing community service. It deepened at Santa Monica College, where she pursued environmental studies.
And it continues today.
Parent will soon embark on an educational trip to Antarctica, where she will explore the frozen continent and learn about the effects of climate change.
In mid-March she’ll fly to Ushuaia, a city in southern Argentina, and take a ship across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. She’ll spend time absorbing information about Antarctica, hiking and riding in inflatable boats to see wildlife up close. She’ll sleep most nights on the ship, but she said the group will camp one evening on the ice and build trenches to guard against the elements. She’ll return in early April.
Parent launched a crowdfunding campaign for her trip with the hope of raising $19,500 to cover expenses. Donors had contributed more than $14,000 as of Thursday afternoon.
The expedition is organized by the 2041 Foundation, which aims to protect Antarctica while teaching others about its importance. Parent will be one of 100-plus attendees who were selected from a pool of more than 4,000 applicants.
The foundation’s name refers to the Antarctic Treaty, a pact between countries regarding the acceptable uses of the continent, such as scientific research and educational opportunities. It expires in 2041.
“For me, it’s helping to bring awareness about the treaty and what we might be able to do to continue to protect the continent and the wildlife and the amazing resource that Antarctica is,” Parent said, “and being able to tie that into what we do in our own lives that can help as far as environmental effects and reducing the impact of climate change.”
Parent, a Sacramento resident who works for the California Air Resources Board, heard about the trip during a lunchtime presentation by renowned explorer and environmental advocate Robert Swan at her office. He was the first person in history to walk to both of Earth’s poles.
“Hearing his presentation was very inspiring,” Parent said.
Parent is carrying the environmental torch she received from her mother, who died of breast cancer at the age of 47.
Parent attended McKinley Elementary and John Adams Middle schools, graduating from Samohi in 1992. She then took classes at SMC before earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental policy analysis and planning from UC Davis. She later received a master’s in environmental science and policy from Clark University in Massachusetts. She has worked for the state for nearly eight years.
Parent wants to take what she learns from her trip and inspire other people to learn about Antarctica and the environment.
“Few people are able to experience the awe of Antarctica,” she wrote on her Crowdrise page. “I want to bring the expedition to others through social media — landscape and wildlife photographs, video or sound recording of wildlife or an iceberg calving, and posts about my epiphanies at the edge of the world.
“Prior to, and upon my return, I will speak to students, colleagues, companies, non-profits, or other interested parties, about the expedition and what they can do in their lives, communities, or companies, to protect this amazing natural resource and improve the communities we live in.”