Alaska company seeks recruits for Antarctica jobs

Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The lure of Antarctica drew a steady stream of adventure-seekers to a job fair in Anchorage on Tuesday.

NANA Services is recruiting 125 people to work in three camps on the icy continent from October to February, when it's spring and summer there. NANA, a subsidiary of a regional Native corporation, has a 10-year, $5.5 million contract with Raytheon Polar Services to provide food, housecleaning and other support services.

Raytheon has its own contract with the National Science Foundation, which conducts year-round research in polar biology, medicine, geology, geophysics, astronomy, astrophysics, glaciology and other fields, said Kim Givens, station services manager with the NSF.

The one-day job fair drew at least 75 people by early afternoon. Many said they had always dreamed of going to Antarctica and would do whatever kind of work would take them there.

''It's the remoteness and the mystic,'' said Tayma Walker, 21, a ramp worker for Alaska Airlines. ''It would be hard but it would be a challenge,'' said Walker, who was born and raised in Alaska.

''I just think it would be cool to go to Antarctica for a year. I could say 10 years from now that as a teen-ager I went there,'' said Doug Dortch Jr., 18. Dortch said he has lived in Anchorage most of his life and is looking for a change of scenery. He's interested in working as a cargo handler, a fire technician helper, a lineman apprentice or an air strip support person.

Alaska is a great recruiting ground to find people capable of living in a cold, isolated place with no vegetation, said Clifford Fick, chief operating officer of NANA Services.

''McMurdo is at the base of a volcano. It's all black rock or snow,'' said Fick, referring to McMurdo Station, one of the three permanent research stations in Antarctica.

Antarctica ranks as ''the highest, driest, coldest, windiest, and emptiest place on earth,'' according to a Raytheon pamphlet. An ice sheet covers most of the continent's 5.4 million square miles, nine times the size of Alaska. Penguins and sea life abound.

October to February is probably the best time to be there because summer temperatures at McMurdo can reach as high as 40 degrees, the pamphlet says. There's also an abundance of daylight because the sun sets in March and rises in September.

Most NANA Services' jobs in Antarctica pay between $350 and $1,000 a week, said C. Robert Tellez, food and beverage manager. The company covers travel to and from Antarctica, as well as room and board.

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