We were lucky enough to partner with Wild Science Explorers this summer and take youth from rural Idaho down the Wallowa/Grand Ronde rivers! This was a 3-day 2 night trip that focused on place based experiential science education as well as leadership and conservation ethics. A really special component of combining these two organizations is that just about all of the river guides on this trip are also Idaho educators. When the love of teaching meets the love of the river wonderful things happen!
One of the goals of this trip was to immerse the students in river ecology. Because we travelled on two different rivers we were able to set up an inquiry project where we tested and compared water quality from each river as well as from a couple other locations such as an inflowing tributary. We tested both abiotic (non living) and biotic (living) water quality parameters, analyzed our results, and had a discussion about what story the data was telling.
This trip was not only about scientific discovery. Leadership was a huge focus for us. We gave the students opportunities to practice leadership at every bend in the river. From unloading boats and setting up camp to captaining their own inflatable kayaks and leading the scientific inquiry. We spent a morning learning about different styles of leadership, thinking about what an ideal leader looks like, and looking inward at what type of leader we each were.
Ultimately, we wanted to show these young people that they have what it takes to be environmental leaders in their communities.
We are beyond grateful for how well this trip went, and we hope to continue this Youth Summit in the future!