Onward Energy has chosen Mankato Area Public Schools Teacher Julia Battern as the winner of the trip to Antarctica with the 2041 Foundation

Julia is in her 11th year of teaching and coaching in the district. She currently teaches science at Mankato East High School and is the head varsity coach for the girls basketball team at Mankato West High School.


What made you interested in applying for this opportunity?
A few colleagues encouraged me to apply, and as I learned more about this opportunity I realized that it aligned very closely with one of my passions, which is expanding opportunities for K-12 environmental education. The timing of this opportunity is impeccable–at the state and school district level we are in the early stages of rewriting our science courses to implement the new 2019 science standards, which place a heavy emphasis on earth science and sustainability… I won’t become an expert on climate change in 11 days but I certainly hope to gain first hand experiences and a deeper understanding of this complex topic to share with colleagues and students, both now and through the curriculum writing that will take place over the next few years.
What are you most looking forward to?
The thought of actually stepping foot onto the continent of Antarctica and exploring an undeveloped, pristine environment is so humbling and exciting, something I never would have imagined I’d have the opportunity to do. I can’t wait for the adventure! I am grateful for Onward Energy for investing in educators like me and funding this opportunity!
Something people should know about this trip is that it will be “carbon negative.” A lot of energy will be used in transportation, food, and making resources to make this trip possible. The trip leaders and participants are taking steps to ensure that carbon is actually being removed from the atmosphere as a result of this trip, indirectly. For example, I paid an additional $70.00 to offset the carbon that will be released into the atmosphere during the flights to and from Antarctica…that money will go toward reforestation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency projects that will ultimately reduce or reverse carbon emissions.
What do you hope to learn?
I am looking forward to new relationships and connections that will result from this trip, both in the Mankato community and on a global scale. I will be traveling and learning with people from over 35 different countries; I’m eager to gain a more global perspective on climate change impacts and solutions, as each country is facing a unique set of challenges.
What do you love about teaching?
So many things! I love my colleagues and really enjoy the students and athletes that I work with each day. I also enjoy the challenge of planning meaningful, relevant lessons that will help our students gain skills and knowledge to help them be successful citizens. I whole-heartedly believe that public education is the key to making positive changes at the community level, and I am so proud to tell people that I am a teacher.
In September, Onward Energy announced that they were interested in sponsoring a teacher or administrator from Mankato Area Public Schools to travel to Antarctica with the 2041 Foundation to learn about the impact of global climate change. Individuals that had “an interest in learning more about climate change, leadership, and wanted to become a champion for a more sustainable future” were encouraged to apply. No experience was necessary. Applicants were asked to create a brief video of themselves explaining why they were interested and how they planned on sharing the experience and knowledge they gained. Onward Energy received 21 outstanding videos from which to choose.
The trip will take place March 17th – 28th, 2022. We will be tracking Julia’s journey and sharing it with the MAPS community, information about how to follow along will be shared soon. “I am thankful for my colleagues and family members who encouraged me to apply, and for my husband, Ky, who will be taking on full-time dad duties with our 3-year-old daughter while I am away,” said Battern.
Onward Energy was formed in January 2021, as a result of a merger between Novatus Energy and Southwest Generation. We are a premier independent power generator, whose goal is to deliver renewable and reliable power to our customers, opportunities to our associates, and sustainable returns to the families who invest in us, and a better world to the next generation. In order to achieve these goals, we believe that being active in our local communities is an important aspect of our company values, and by providing opportunities such as these, we hope to create a stronger bond with our communities.