Friday, February 14, 2014

Wild River Academy's 2014 Programs

Hello everyone!

Happy Valentine's Day. I hope that you are radiating LOVE today...and everyday!

The Wild River Academy team has been working hard during the 2014 season to build and execute our three main programs: our High School Leadership Program, Educational Canoe Trips, and Adventure Learning Program. If you haven't been keeping up to date with our moves (we move quickly!) then read below for a description of each of our programs.

High School Leadership Program
This spring we are working with three absolutely amazing high school students based in the Twin Cities. We are piloting our first High School Leadership Program in which students are responsible for planning every aspect of an educational canoe trip on a local river (If you're thinking, what the heck is an educational canoe trip?! Keep reading!). Every Sunday we cover different subjects like marketing, public speaking, learning about your social and natural environment, forms and liability, etc. so that the students can build a diverse skill set that they will utilize for the rest of their lives. Each meeting starts with a guest speaker, a specialist in the weekly subject, to share their experience in the field and to give advice to our students. Then we run exercises and HAVE FUN (we played sardines in the St.Paul Central Library last time) to build relationships as well as awesome skills. Check our website for more information!

Educational Canoe Trips
Over the summer Wild River Academy staff and students explore local watersheds in canoes. We have made some amazing partnerships this year with College Possible, CURE MN, River's Edge Academy, Big City Mountaineers, and our River Ambassador Schools to provide educational canoe trips on the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Our educational canoe trips use the river as a dynamic classroom to learn about the complexities of our local watershed. As groups travel downstream, they engage with farmers, industry specialists, community members, and naturalists to better understand who lives by the river and how they use the land and water. This hands-on learning experience fully immerses students in watershed education.

Paddle Forward Fellowship
Last fall, Wild River Academy led its first Paddle Forward Expedition on the Mississippi River. Eleven Young adults paddled from Bemidji to New Orleans to engage with students all over the country through blogs, discussions questions, pictures and videos. Our River Ambassador Schools learned about America's greatest watershed alongside our expeditioners, even though they were not physically present on the adventure.

Our 2014 Paddle Forward Expedition will be on the Illinois River. We are currently accepting applications from young adults, ages 20 - 25. To apply, send your cover letter and resume to The adventure begins September 2014!

So, there you have it! Our three main programs. We have been working hard for the last two years to build Wild River Academy and we couldn't be more excited about our current direction and momentum. Our next board meeting is March 3 from 6-8:30 PM at the DNR Headquarters in St.Paul. It is open to the public and curious strangers are always welcome.

FUN THINGS: #Partnershipsthatrock
Wild River Academy and River's Edge Academy are sharing a full sized school bus starting this season! We are going to paint it and put our names on it. Fun, right?

Whole Foods has agreed to sponsor all of our food costs for the 2014 season. It's amazing the support you can receive when you simply ask. :D

IMPORTANT THINGS: We are launching our Sponsor a Student to Paddle Campaign in March. We are going to raise $20,000 to offer our educational canoe trips at low or no cost to students who otherwise would not be able to participate. Look out for an email!

Thanks again for the support.
The Wild River Academy Team
Natalie, Nick, and Anna

Monday, February 3, 2014

What does Wild River Academy do when the water is ice?

The cold weather may inhibit paddling opportunities, but the Wild River Academy staff is hard at work. Coming off of our Paddle Forward trip down the Mississippi River, we have a lot of momentum and support and are more excited than ever about the direction the organization is going. There is lots to be done to prepare for our summer canoe trips, and our schedule is also filling up with speaking engagements at outdoor symposiums. We will be heading up to Duluth this weekend to attend and present at the Student Outdoor Educators’ Conference at the University of Minnesota. Natalie will be speaking about her epic Hudson Bay Bound Trip, and members of the Paddle Forward crew will talk about our trip down the Mississippi River. Gatherings of people who are excited about what they do are always energizing, and we are looking forward to sharing what we know and learning from other attendees. Click here to learn more and register for this great gathering!

We are also starting up our High School Fellowship program on February 9! This is an exciting opportunity for high school students to learn all of the component parts of planning their own canoe trips, and they will also participate in a mentorship program with WRA staff. Wild River Academy will teach a new topic to participants once a week, bringing in experts to teach everything from marketing to fundraising to teaching outdoors skills and planning a food menu. Participants may also receive independent study credit from their school! Come summer, students will then have the opportunity to help lead a Wild River Academy trip to solidify and show off all of the skills they develop. Five students are on board already, but we have room for more! Email if you are interested.

Plan ahead! Register for a canoe trip this summer! Paddle, learn about, and discuss the waterway that you travel on. Email if you have questions or want to schedule a group trip that is tailored to your availability and interests.