Architect's drawing of the new Polar Bears International House.

Having a new base camp and interpretive center in Churchill will allow us to do even more for polar bear conservation.

© Simon Gee/Polar Bears International

10/17/2018 8:23:31 PM

Building a Better Foundation for Polar Bear Education

By Alysa McCall, Director of Conservation Outreach and Staff Scientist

As the walls go up, our excitement grows! The new Polar Bears International House won’t just be a more efficient, better-organized space to help us run our logistically challenging Churchill operations—it will also help us reach more people in more impactful ways than ever before, furthering our mission of conserving polar bears and their sea ice home. 

The new PBI House going up in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, will provide lodging for our staff and some volunteers. But most important, it will provide a new interpretive space on polar bear research and climate change, combined with a space for media interviews and broadcasts. While a roughly 400-square-foot interpretive space may not seem like much, the impact on our global education and outreach programs will be significant.

In-town broadcasts

The bulk of our outreach from Churchill has always been done on the tundra from a mobile broadcasting studio built into Tundra Buggy One. We broadcast live from what seems like the middle of nowhere, roaming amongst polar bears and other Arctic wildlife. Though Buggy One will remain the keystone of our Churchill programming (as it should, it’s amazing!), being able to go live from town will open up a whole new realm of possibilities.

The new interpretive space in PBI House will allow us to bypass the unpredictable nature of trying to secure a reliable internet connection on the tundra. Battling howling winds and freezing equipment can occasionally lead to programs getting delayed or cancelled— rare, but disappointing. A stable in-town connection will allow us to keep better connected to the world (and the world to polar bears), offering consistent programs for our viewers and fewer headaches for our tech team. This stable in-town space will complement what we do on Buggy One in a beautiful, and effective, way.

Additionally, PBI House will allow a wider range of guest speakers and voices to be heard. Currently, the number of people who can join us on the tundra is limited by the number of beds, water availability, and even the amount of elbow room. By being able to work from town, we can host more guests and students, providing more people with a platform from which to speak about living or working with polar bears and how their world is impacted by the changing climate.

Community ties

PBI House will also allow us to improve our summer intern program. Each year, we hire local high schoolers to join us on our Beluga Boat and support its operations and outreach initiatives. Students make some money and learn new skills while talking about their hometown with a global audience. Until now, we were not able to provide them with dedicated workspace and computers; our new house will offer them improved resources and support in developing their talents, helping the next generation of leaders gain a better foothold early. 

Finally, PBI House will allow us to simply be better hosts to the incredible people who are interested in Churchill and its bears, whether they visit in-person or remotely. Our interpretive space will offer up-to-date information, fun interactive media, live streaming cameras, space for meetings and events, and more consistent and effective programming. We could not be more thrilled to have this new foundation on which to build our polar bear education offerings, and we cannot wait to share it all with you.

Help Build a Future for Polar Bears

Your donation will help make our home a reality. Major gifts will receive recognition on our donor wall. For details, visit our donation page for Polar Bears International House or contact us at

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