Underwater cave explorer inspires students to discover the world around them
One of the coolest jobs on the planet just might take place thousands of metres underwater.
Jill Heinerth is one of the world’s top marine explorers and is the first ever Explorer-in-Residence at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
“I did previsualize wanting to explore and discover the world in some way,” says Heinerth. “I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau on TV.”
She also had a Grade seven teacher who inspired her classmates to do things that were outrageous.
Heinerth was in Calgary Monday passing along that same message to about 300 students at Alice Jamieson Girls’ Academy.
“My main message to kids is to use exploration in their lives. They don’t have to be a cave diver,” says Heinerth. “They could use exploration whether they intend to be a scientist or write or whatever occupation they do; if they push the envelope and use discovery learning in all their pursuits in life that will serve them well.”
“We have a couple hundred girls being exposed to that idea of adventure and pushing our limits and going outside of stereotypical role is so valuable and having a role model like Jill come to our school is excellent to show one example of something one person can do,” says teacher Matt Sloane.
The students did find her inspiring.
““I really like how she says she wants to empower young Canadians to fulfil their dreams,” says grade seven student Rubab Imran. “I think that’s really good because it’s different from her occupation of what she does; it’s not just about her scuba diving; it’s about her inspiring people around the world.”
“When I started I was pretty surprised and I was eager to learn more so I jumped right in and started doing some research,” says grade seven student Tayyeba Mahmood. “I wasn’t really into adventures but now I’m interested and I want to do something.”
Sloane was the teacher who helped arrange Heinerth’s visit; he received an email, clicked yes and waited for a response.
“I got an email saying they’d be delighted to come and talk to our students about adventure, geography, the importance of exploration and just getting kids involved in as much as they can possibly get involved in,” says Sloane.
Heinerth grew up in Ontario and learned to scuba dive in Tobermory, commonly referred to as the Shipwreck Capital of the Great Lakes but she says underwater cave exploration is what she loves.
“I look in the doorway of a cave and I see opportunity,” says Heinerth. “Opportunity to go where no one went before; it’s a place of discovery and a unique vessel of cultural history and national history.”
Heinerth has made it part of her mandate to speak to students to get them outdoors and to explore and discover the world around them.
She says her business card says “explorer” and in today’s world she believes many of these students will have job titles that no one else will have a on a business card too.