A science initiative that aims to increase the influence of women in decision and policy making regarding the state of planet Earth, Homeward Bound gathers together 80 female participants from all over the world who have a STEMM background (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math & Medicine) and a keen interest in helping to move towards a more sustainable future.
Johns, who teaches at Canterbury Girls’ Secondary College, only recently discovered that she has been accepted into the program.
"It was very exciting … I’d been checking my email for weeks and finally got the news," she says.
"It seemed surreal for so long that I would be going to Antarctica in 12 months’ time. But I have a really positive outlook moving forward and I’m ready to accept the challenges and lessons that this program has to offer me."
One of those challenges is that Johns needs to raise $23,000 to fund her trip of a lifetime.
"I’ve initially begun by reaching out to my colleagues and school community’ she says.
"I have some inspiring women behind me, driving and supporting my fundraising efforts, and as a team we recently organised a morning tea and a raffle. I’ve also started a crowd funding page to reach out into the broader community.
"In addition, I’ll be applying for grants, sponsorship and support from businesses whose values match that of the program, and will be offering presentations to share the messages I take away from this journey to hopefully inspire change through other people and organisations."
In the lead up to the trip Johns will participate in a variety of training sessions focused on the development of leadership skills, including leadership and strategic capability training, leadership diagnostics, peer coaching, mentorship, visibility training and self-awareness.
She will also carry out scientific research and work as part of a group on a chosen project. Following this, on Christmas Day, she leaves Melbourne and flies to Ushuaia, Argentina.
‘Here we’ll meet up with the other program participants and the leadership team,’ Johns explains. ‘On 31st December we embark on the notorious crossing of the Drake Passage, or as some call it, the Drake Rite of Passage; apparently it can be quite a rough trip!’
Antarctica was an obvious choice of destination for the Homeward Bound project; not only is the continent showing some of the fastest responses to climate change seen anywhere on the planet - therefore offering an unparalleled opportunity to observe first-hand the influence of human activities on the environment - its iconic beauty and uniqueness have inspired and captured the imagination of many a great leader in the past, including among others Australian geologist Sir Douglas Mawson, New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.
Johns aims to use the skills and knowledge she gains from this amazing experience to hopefully influence her young students.
"First of all, as this is a leadership program, I will undoubtedly become a stronger and more reflective leader, both in my role in the classroom and in a curriculum development capacity’, she says.
"Also, by sharing my knowledge and capturing my experience though video and pictures, I’ll be able to add a very personal element to my teaching and share this with my classes.
"I hope to help my students form meaningful bonds, as well as a desire to learn more, see more and do more for this planet."