• jill heinerth, explorer-in-residence, b.c., education tour

    Jill Heinerth talks to students during the Toronto section of her "We are all Explorers" tour. This week the Explorer-in-Residence is visiting schools in British Columbia. (Photo courtesy of Explorer-in-Residence Student Photographers)

Jill Heinerth has gone deeper into underwater caves than any woman before her. As The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s first-ever Explorer-in-Residence, she has spent the last few months travelling to schools across Canada, sharing her experiences.

Since November, Heinerth has been to more than 15 schools, in southern Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The final leg of her journey brings her to British Columbia, where she will complete her “We are all Explorers” tour.

Heinerth has completed more than 7,000 dives and amassed a wealth of experiences —mapping aquifer caves, discovering new species, exploring shipwrecks, and delving into underwater tunnels inside the world’s largest iceberg.

Heinerth, an expert photographer and videographer, uses breathtaking images of these underwater vistas to inspire students to explore the outdoors and their local environment. She aims to foster in students a curiosity about the natural world and a better appreciation of Earth’s geography, especially the importance of its water resources.

During Heinerth’s visits, students get to learn about what skills an explorer needs in today’s digital age of discovery. Heinerth covers a range of topics in her presentations — from the role of technology in exploration to managing risk-assessment.

Afterwards, she engages students in smaller groups, offering them the chance to interview her and ask questions. Going beyond the challenges of exploration, Heinerth encourages discussions about career choices, confronting doubts and overcoming fear, learning how to collaborate with a team, and finding solutions to social barriers.

Heinerth will be in British Columbia from February 20-24, and will visit Chemainus Secondary School in Chemainus, Kwayhquitlum Middle School in Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows Elementary in Pitt Meadows, Green Timbers Elementary in Surrey, and West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver.