Hey Everyone! This is the first guest blog entry for Paddle Forward’s Illinois River Expedition. We are a group of Augsburg College students and a professor (and one recent Augsburg graduate) who just finished paddling 115 miles of the Upper Mississippi, from St. Paul to Winona. We are now back on campus as part of a class on Environmental and River Politics at Augsburg College, and will be following the Illinois River trip and contributing to the trip blog. Students in the class will be researching some of the topics and issues encountered by the Paddle4ward crew, and seeing how that trip compares to the one we just finished on the Mississippi.
In our class we have Lucie, Alex, Emily, and Charles, who are all environmental studies majors; Lily, a Chemistry major, and Rachel, in Biology. We are also working with a history major, Kevin, who has been studying the tunnels, sewers, and storm water drain systems in Minneapolis and St. Paul. They will each be researching different aspects of the Chicago and Illinois Rivers.
We have a personal connection to the expedition since our trip was led by Liz Just, who is also part of the Paddle Forward crew. We had a great time hearing from Liz about the trip down the Mississippi River last fall, and looking forward to hearing about this new trip as well.
We learned directly from the river, but also from the people we met along the way—river rats, duck hunters, fishermen, wildlife biologists, lock operators, local business owners, and people who just like being down by river. Everyone had their own stories and perspectives on the river, but everyone loved it and wanted to protect it, which was great to see, because we do too.
Over the next few weeks we will be contributing stories and research to the Paddle Forward blog on topics such as transportation, the impact of farming, the threats posed by invasive species, and economic development along the river.
We are psyched to be following the Paddle Forward group as they explore the Chicago and Illinois River, and share our thoughts and reflections on these great rivers and their place in our lives.