Monday, June 9, 2014

Introducing our newest Paddle Forward 2014 Member!


My name is Jess and I’m new to the Paddle Forward team! I’m very excited to be involved with Wild River Academy!

Who is Jess? 
I am a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I'm studying Fisheries and Wildlife with an emphasis in Conservation Biology. I grew up in Isanti, Minnesota—about an hour north of the cities. Growing up, my summers were mostly spent on lakes. I developed a love for anything and everything water and the outdoors.  While at the University I've worked various jobs. I began as a tutor for local schools and after school programs. I left that to work as a research assistant only to realize I really missed teaching and working with children. I decided to combine my passions and am now getting involved in outdoor education. I'm really passionate about sharing the value of nature. I also have eight siblings, am proficient in German, and I'm learning to tap dance. I love sunrises, biking, and playing tennis.

Why did she join Paddle Forward: Illinois River? 

I am very excited for the Paddle Forward trip down the Illinois River in the fall! It’ll be a great experience to explore nature and to see how people interact with the water. I love water systems and a whole month in a canoe sounds like a dream. I also look forward to connecting with students and teachers along the way! It will be fun sharing our experiences through adventure learning.

What will she gain from the trip? 

I am taking a directed study at the U of M to help me develop the K-12 curriculum that classrooms will use as they follow us on the trip. The professors here are so insightful and encouraging! I am lucky to get to take this trip and have it count towards my schooling. Professor Karen Oberhauser will be mentoring me on the project and I’m thrilled for her expert guidance. Overall I hope to do an analysis of the usefulness of adventure learning for K-12 classrooms. I want to see if teachers and students like learning through this type of partnership and to find ways to make it better.

I am so grateful for all of the support and encouragement from my family and friends. Also, the Wild River Academy team is so amazing!

I look forward to the adventures to come and the opportunities to learn!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

River Talking

Members of Wild River Academy’s Paddle Forward trip have been busy doing presentations about their voyage down the Mississippi River, in addition to gearing up for the summer season. On April 15, Martha and Anna spoke at the River Management Society’s conference, titled “Managing Rivers in Changing Climes.” They had a great time meeting and learning from experts in the field of river management, and were honored to be included in the conference. Peter Hark, son of beloved Larene “Ma” Hark, whom the groups stayed with on day 6 of the Paddle Forward expedition, was in the audience.

The duo also did a presentation at Colorado College, their alma mater in Colorado Springs. They told stories about their adventures, talked about the value of paddling in non-wilderness areas, and detailed how they were able to fund their adventure post college, as graduates are no longer eligible for adventure grants through the institution.

Over the weekend of April 26 and 27th, five of the Paddle Forward crew spoke to a friendly audience at the Midwest Mountaineering expo. The expo is always a fun and exciting event, and Wild River Academy enjoyed tabling throughout the weekend and meeting new folks interested in the organization. It is exciting and heartwarming to see people’s enthusiasm for watershed education.

On May 2 and 3, the WRA crew was in Granite Falls for the River History weekend put on by Clean Up the River Environment (CURE). It is always a delight to connect with our friends and allies in southwestern Minnesota working hard to protect and maintain the Minnesota River valley, and this weekend was no different. The “Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This” event on Friday night was an energizing way for young leaders to connect. On Saturday morning, Nick, Natalie, and Anna led a canoe water safety training. That evening, they were warmly received when they spoke about their travels down the Mississippi River at the CURE annual meeting. WRA was thrilled to be included in the celebration of the hard work that CURE and the greater Granite Falls community is doing to protect and restore the local environment.

There are presentations in our future as well! The WRA crew is looking forward to speaking with students at the School of Environmental Studies on June 11. Natalie will be talking with a group of professors in Madison on Thursday about incorporating adventure learning into the college setting.

Thank you to everyone who has attended our presentations! We look forward to continuing to share our story with others, and hope that you will share your story with us.