Polar Explorer Teaches Environmental Risk and Responsibility


After speaking about his polar expeditions in Lemmond Theater, Tim Jarvis embraces Dr. Midori Yamnouchi. Yamnouchi sponsors the lecture series that brought Jarvis to campus.

Courtney Garloff, Editor in Chief

The Dr. Midori Yamnouchi Lecture Series exposed students to the life of polar explorer Tim Jarvis who presented “Course of Action: Lessons from a Lifetime of Polar Exploration” March 23.
During his lecture in the Lemmond Theater, Jarvis discussed work ethic and teamwork as he told stories of his most recent expedition.
Jarvis explained that in 2013 along with five team members, he started out to recreate the 1916 survival story of legendary polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. He and five companions completed an incredible journey, sailing a small row boat, the James Caird, across 800 miles of the roughest ocean in the world from Elephant island, Antarctica to the mountainous South Georgia Island.
“The expedition is in honor of Shackleton’s legacy. It demonstrates how a group of people from different nations are able to put their differences aside to work towards the achievement of a goal against seemingly insurmountable odds, a message that resonates powerfully in our modern world,” said Jarvis.
Jarvis and his team were the first to successfully complete Shackleton’s experience.  Dubbed “The Shackleton Epic,” the expedition set sail from Elephant Island in a replica of the James Caird and used only 1916 technology, food and equipment.
“I have always dreamt of doing this, recreating his survival story was the big one for me,” he said.
Jarvis usually goes on expeditions the modern way, using a sled carrying all the supplies and food needed for his journey.
“It is all about how much you can pull and how long you can pull it. These sleds normally weigh around 500 pounds,” said Jarvis.
His most recent expedition was very different from the rest and he had challenges gaining sponsors, team members and a television deal.
“Sometimes if people are resistant to your ideas, you have to bring them the closest to that idea,” he said.
The journey took four years to plan. He spent the time recruiting team members, building the boat, applying for and receiving all of the necessary permits, and training for the extreme weather conditions.
“This expedition had a lot of different stakeholders and a lot of starting points that we had to pull together to reach a common goal,” said Jarvis.
The journey was two-fold: First the group had to sail the 800 miles from Elephant Island to the island of South Georgia. Then the team had to hike across the island to the exact whaling station that Shackleton had discovered many years before. The hike alone took the group 96 hours.
“With both trips, six men started in the boat but once reaching South Georgia only three could continue. Ironically, in both cases the three to continue were the leader, the navigator and the tough guy,” said Jarvis.
Both groups only saw the sun twice as they sailed across the South Atlantic.
None of the team members involved with the expedition received any payment for their work.
Those in attendance were moved by the story.
“I thought Jarvis was a good speaker, and his inspiring story can be used to motivate others to pursue their dreams. Most people wouldn’t think anything of a person recreating an expedition, since it already happened once, but the fact that he chose to not use modern technology or equipment to help him was brave,” said sophomore physical therapy major Arielle Kneller.
The lecture was preceded by a week of events that featured a screening of a film based on Jarvis’ expedition.
Jarvis is an environmental scientist, author, adventurer and public speaker with Master’s degrees in environmental science and environmental law.
He is committed to finding pragmatic solutions to major environmental issues related to climate change and biodiversity loss.
“His research and work in the climate field has led to some significant findings and will help the world realize that things need to change or else the polar caps will not be there to explore anymore,” said sophomore physical therapy major Savannah Schools.
He uses his public speaking engagements, films and books about his expeditions to promote progressive thinking in these areas and to emphasize solving problems by action, not advocacy.
“I’m an outcome-focused person and apply this philosophy to both the expeditions I undertake and my environmental work,” said Jarvis.
The Dr. Midori Yamanouchi lecture series started in 2011.
“It is exciting to expose students to accomplished people so students realize they are living in a larger world. By the time a Misericordia student graduates, I hope this lecture series helps each one to know they can succeed, and that they can interact with the type of person they aspire to be,” said Yamanouchi.
Dr. Yamanouchi taught anthropology and sociology at the University of Scranton. Her goal is to bring world-class experts to campus for interaction with students.