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Explorer Eric Larsen launches a BIPOC scholarship for polar training courses to help support adventurers and reconnect exploration to its diverse roots.

“Matthew Henson was a larger-than-life African-American figure from the historical annals of polar exploration and one of my personal heroes,” says Eric Larsen, the Colorado-based explorer who has touched both poles and the top of the world on record-setting expeditions. Henson, a veteran of numerous Arctic expeditions, planted the American flag on the geographic North Pole in 1909 as a member of Robert Peary’s famed expedition. “I think it’s always been important to connect to the past and learn as much as we can from both successes and mistakes,” says Larsen. “As far as Matthew Henson is concerned, his achievements rival that of Peary and many other explorers both before and after.”

The resources for adventurers from historically marginalized populations to follow in his footsteps are practically nonexistent, however. In response, Larsen, with generous help from outdoor brand Jack Wolfskin, has created the Polar Academy 2024 BIPOC Scholarship in honor of Matthew Henson. Six individuals will receive a free weeklong polar training course in northern Minnesota, including travel, meals, clothing, and equipment.

“Our goal is to remove some of the barriers for participation by providing,” says Larsen, who sees this as a first step to broaden polar exploration for future generations. “I’m excited to meet new people and learn how this experience impacts them. Equally important, I feel that my polar course has a variety of physical and philosophical skills that transfer to any outdoor adventure. And I’m really hopeful some of the people pursue bigger polar objectives on their own as well.” For more information or to apply, go to

Photo Courtesy Eric Larsen

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