Ann Bancroft Profile

An inspiration to women, girls and aspiring explorers across the world, Ann Bancroft shares her stories of travel and adventure in her motivational speeches in order to inspire others to pursue their dreams just as she has done. One of the most notable polar explorers in the world, an educator, sought-after speaker and philanthropist, she has crushed the myth of the limitations of women in the best possible, most practical, ways.

Among Ann’s many notable achievements are joining with Liv Arnesen as the first women in history to sail and ski across Antarctica, a journey of 1717 miles in 94 days; leading an American Women’s Expedition to the South Pole and in doing so becoming the first woman in history to reach both poles by land crossing; leading the first American women’s east to west crossing of Greenland and dog-sledding 1000 miles from Canada to the North Pole, becoming the first known woman in history to reach the North Pole across the ice. Her achievements have earned many awards, among them being included in Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year,” being featured in the book Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century, being inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and being named Ms. Magazine‘s Woman of the Year.

Growing up in Minnesota imbued Ann with a love of the natural world that is only matched by her enthusiasm for teaching. She took a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education at the University of Oregon and became a physical and special education teacher in Minneapolis and St. Paul. She currently pursues her passion for childhood education as an instructor for Wilderness Inquiry, introducing both able-bodied and disabled children to the wilderness.

Ann is the founder of the Ann Bancroft Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the achievements, existing and potential, of women and girls.

Ann’s achievements have been featured widely across the globe, including on the BBC, CNN, NPR, NBC Nightly News and NBC Today. She has also appeared in many print media, including in TIME, USA Today, Good Housekeeping, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and The Oprah Magazine. Spokesperson for the Learning Disabilities Association, Girl Scouts of the USA and Wilderness Inquiry, she serves on the board of Youth Frontiers and is a judge for the Nuclear Free awards and the National Women’s Hall of Fame inductions. She is co-chair of the Wilderness Inquiry capital campaign and serves on the advisory board of the Melpomene Institute and Medica.

  • View Extended/Alternate Bio

    Ann Bancroft is one of the world′s preeminent polar explorers and an internationally recognized leader who is dedicated to inspiring women and girls around the world to unleash the power of their dreams. Through her various roles as an explorer, educator, sought-after speaker and philanthropist, Ann believes that by sharing stories related to her dreams of outdoor adventure, she can help inspire a global audience to pursue their individual dreams.

    Ann′s teamwork and leadership skills have undergone severe tests during her polar expeditions and provided her with opportunities to shatter female stereotypes. The tenacity and courage that define her character have earned Ann worldwide recognition as one of today′s most influential role models for women and girls. She has been named among Glamour magazine′s “Women of the Year” (2001); 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 other awards for her accomplishments.

    Major Accomplishments:

      • February 2001 – Ann and Norwegian polar explorer Liv Arnesen become the first women in history to sail and ski across Antarcticaÿs landmass – completing a 94 -day, 1,717-mile (2,747 trek).
      • 1993 – Ann leads the American Women′s Expedition to the South Pole, a 67-day expedition of 660 miles (1,060 km) on skis by four women, earning the distinction of being the first known woman in history to cross the ice to both the North and South Poles.
      • 1992 – Ann leads the first American women′s east to west crossing of Greenland.
      • 1986 – Ann dogsleds 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, earning the distinction of being the first known woman in history to cross the ice to the North Pole.

    Born in 1955 in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, Ann′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 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′s passion for exploring our natural world is matched by her enthusiasm for teaching children. After earning a bachelor of science degree in physical education from the University of Oregon, Ann taught physical and special education in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. schools and coached various high school sports. She currently is an instructor for Wilderness Inquiry, an organization that helps disabled and able-bodied individuals enjoy the wilderness year round.

    Ann′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.

    An internationally known entity, Ann′s expeditions have been followed by BBC, CNN, National Public Radio, NBC Nightly News and NBC′s Today show. She also has been featured in Time, People, USA Today, Ms., McCall′s, Ladies Home Journal, Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Glamour, National Geographic, Outside, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated for Kids and Sports Illustrated for Women, O, the Oprah Magazine and Time for Kids. Ann is a spokesperson for the Learning Disabilities Association, Wilderness Inquiry and Girl Scouts of the USA. She serves on the board of Youth Frontiers, co-chairs the Wilderness Inquiry capital campaign and is a judge for the Nuclear-Free awards and the National Women′s Hall of Fame inductions. Ann serves on the advisory board of the Melpomene Institute and Medica.

Ann Bancroft Speaking Videos

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Ann Bancroft's Speech Descriptions

Ann Bancroft presents a series of inspirational talks based around her own historic and record-breaking achievements in polar exploration. Using historic images and films she shows audiences how she has achieved her dreams and inspires them to do the same. Her tales of perseverance and endurance and particularly the ways in which she has shattered the barriers of what is expected of a woman in what has traditionally been a man’s world keep audiences gripped from start to finish.

Speaking alone or with her expedition partner Liv Anderson, Ann tells the astonishing story of how they skied and sailed across Antarctica in 94 days, covering 1717 miles pulling 250lb sleds in temperatures as low as -30°F. Her presentation can be customized for kindergarten through sixth grade and also presented to adult audiences.

Ann also has programs for students (available in Norwegian, Russian and English) on peaceful conflict resolution and how to set goals and achieve them (this last program in English only).

Ann′s Bancroft Arnesen Expedition Presentation

As a sought after speaker, Ann leads her audiences on her journeys with a multi-media presentation utilizing historic images and film. Telling about her past journeys and stories of adventure, she motivates audiences to overcome obstacles by showing how she stayed true to her dream. Her presentations on the Bancroft Arnesen Expedition and her other historic expeditions always keep audiences captivated.

Showing historic still and video footage, Ann Bancroft tells her inspirational and motivational story - beginning with a childhood dream and culminating as she and Liv Arnesen became the first women in history to ski across Antarctica’s landmass.

Beginning November 13, 2000, Bancroft and Arnesen skied and sailed across Antarctica for 94 days and 1,717 miles (2,747km), pulling 250 pound (113 kg) sleds full of food and equipment, enduring temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 degrees Celsius) and winds gusting up to 100 miles (160 km) per hour.

Speaking alone or together as a real-life dynamic duo with Liv Arnesen, her expedition partner, Ann brings her experience and images that continually leave her audiences inspired and striving harder to achieve their own dreams.

Ann uses stunning images of Antarctica and her amazing experiences to provide insights on subjects that challenge all of us on a daily basis.

Other Programs Include:

  • Pursuing Your Goals and Dreams
  • Shattering Female Stereotypes
  • Guidance for Success in Life′s Expeditions
  • Breaking Barriers as a Woman Explorer
  • Perserverance and Ingenuity
  • Adapting to Change


The Bancroft Arnesen Expedition curriculum is based on Liv and Ann’s historic crossing of Antarctica. It is customized for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade (ages 5 to 12 years old) and is available in English. The curriculum incorporates life skills and focuses on subjects that include science, language arts, art, health, social studies, geography, math, history, and physical education.

Peaceful Conflict Resolution

From playground fights to civil wars, conflict is endemic in the world. This curriculum, “Exploring Cultural Conflicts: Journeys Towards Peace,” is intended to help teachers work with students to develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to resolve conflicts peacefully. The curriculum is available in Norwegian, Russian and English.

Dare to Dream

Inspired by Ann and Liv’s commitment to encourage others to pursue their dreams, Dare to Dream is an activity-filled curriculum to help kindergarten through sixth-grade students develop one of the life’s most important skills — the ability to set and achieve goals. The curriculum is currently only available in English.

What People are Saying about Seeing Ann Speak

Rating Entries

    “I want to thank you for your tremendous presentation”…”Your inspirational and motivating messages in the context of your polar expeditions clearly set the tone for our entire annual meeting. Throughout the week I was repeatedly thanked for inviting you to our meeting as so many people found your message encouraging and indeed very relevant to our profession… Your message of setting goals, recognizing and celebrating successes, and taking risk relative to the risk taker clearly resonated with my colleagues.”
    S. Gunderson, President, AOPO

    “I have never before experienced a speaker (Ann) that could address such a large audience but leave you feeling like she had just spent an hour in your living room sharing.”
    Mark A. Brockmeyer, Past President, Iowa Academy of Science

    “Your presentation was simply the perfect way to wrap up our general session… I was delighted to hear consistently, very positive comments about your remarks throughout the rest of the Conference.”
    J. Mueller, Director, Northwest Airlines

    “Ann Bancroft is a modern day pioneer who has been shattering stereotypes about females for decades.”
    Mary Jo Kane, Director, Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport

    In the Wall Street Journal Michael Eisner was quoted as saying in an e-mail to employees: “Like the two skiers who are crossing Antarctica, we have to keep adjusting our strategies as conditions keep changing so that we can reach our ultimate goal of success and profitability…”

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Books by Ann Bancroft:

    No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women and Their Historic Journey Across Antarctica

    A New York Times Bestselling Author

    At ages 45 and 47, two former schoolteachers set out to become the first women to cross Antarctica on foot. American Ann Bancroft and Norwegian Liv Arnesen would walk, ski, and ski-sail for nearly three months in temperatures as low as -35F, towing 250-pound supply sledges across two thousand miles of crevasse-ridden ice while connecting with millions of schoolchildren via Web site transmissions and satellite phone calls.

    Order Here

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