Northern Michigan in Focus: Learning Leadership Skills in Antarctica

For Northern Michigan in Focus Corey Adkins takes you to the bottom of the world and introduces you to a woman from Sault Ste. Marie who had quite a 3 week adventure.

*This story previously aired in April 2018.

In this ordinary looking barn comes an amazing story, from an extraordinary women.

“I am a small animal vet and I started a mobile practice about three years ago, because I felt a need for our community to have vet services,” said Dr. Jill Lynn.

Dr. Lynn takes care of the pets all over the Sault Ste. Marie area in her Harmony Mobile Veterinary Clinic, but that’s not all.

“I’m also a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve Veterinary Corp.,” explained Dr. Lynn.

Her service has taken her all over the world.

“I’ve deployed to Africa, missions in Panama,” said Dr. Lynn.

In 2016, Dr. Lynn was following a program called Homeward Bound. The program selects women from all over the world and teaches them leadership skills in Antarctica.

“Thought it would be great to meet up with these like-minded women in the fields of STEMM, science, technology, education, math and medicine, and to meet up with these women from all over the world and have this leadership experience in the remoteness of Antarctic,” explained Dr. Lynn.

A two-day trip across the dreaded Drake Passage led them to a foggy Antarctica.

“Once we arrived in the Shetland Islands, and it was foggy and cloudy and we just saw this darkness emerge, and that was our first landing on Antarctic land,” said Dr. Lynn.

It’s hard to believe what can live in such a harsh environment, but life was everywhere!

“And it was an amazing feeling, set foot on land and be surrounded by penguins and fur seals,” said Dr. Lynn. 

All those penguins sure are cute, however…

“As soon as we would get close to the ship on land, we would get close by and there would be quite an aroma they produce from all the penguin poo,” explained Dr. Lynn.

Smell aside, in nature, something is always hunting something. Penguins are not that high in the food chain.

“The leopard seal is one of the most commonly known predator and it loves to eat penguins, and we saw a situation where a seal caught a penguin right before our eyes and, of course, you feel bad for the penguin, but the leopard seal has to eat and that is just part of nature,” said Dr. Lynn.

They got to experience ice calving, leopard seals and, of course, penguins sliding on their bellies, all while making lifelong friendships and becoming better leaders.

“There is something special about learning in an austere environment where you are completely disconnected. We didn’t have internet access, social media on board the ship, we could study and focus on leadership courses,” explained Dr. Lynn. “I will always have those memories that will be with me forever, and I have notes from journaling on the ship, and I will reflect back on those and those times and use those strategies in my practice and in my military career.”

Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus