Paddle and learn this summer with the Wildsight Youth Field School

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This summer, young people across the Columbia Basin have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the mighty Columbia River.
The Columbia River Field School (CRFS) in Wildsight is a canoe trip and learning adventure for students ages 15-18. Students paddle key sections of the Canadian side of the Columbia River and camp along its banks in an unparalleled learning environment.
“The field school provides an opportunity for real, lived and felt learning,” says Monica Nissen, education manager at Wildight. “Students come away with an understanding of the complexity of the many issues – ecological, social and economic – that are inextricably linked to the Columbia River and this watershed.
Over 15 days, field school participants meet a diverse group of guest speakers, including government officials, indigenous knowledge holders, scientists, artists and adventurers. They earn Lakewater Level 1 and Canoe Tripping Paddler certifications, and learn important outdoor skills like map reading, packing, cooking, setting up camp, and leaving no trace practices. Most importantly, students gain an appreciation for this watershed and the complex role we all play in protecting it.
“Throughout the trip, I built a strong connection with the Columbia River. Paddling several different sections (free-flowing and dammed) really helped me understand why the Columbia is such an important river,” says former participant Ali Giesbrecht. “I have been privileged to witness its beauty in many forms, such as wildlife and aquatic life, its geography, human connections to the watershed and special places like the upper course and its confluence with the Kootenay River.”
Raising a generation of leaders who understand and appreciate the Columbia River, including the Columbia River Treaty and the effect this river has on communities across the watershed, is exactly what program leaders seek to reach.
“Sustainably improving our relationship with the environment requires more than superficial appreciation. For long-term change, we need to cultivate champions who have deep knowledge and passion, and can use it to inspire interest. wider for issues that affect our communities,” says Graeme Lee Rowlands, program coordinator. “CRFS brings these topics to life in the basin landscape and in the lives of participants in a way that no other program does. .”
Former participants, hailing from 16 basin communities, have spoken at conferences, published original writings, participated in youth summits and become local leaders in their own communities. Many alumni are now pursuing careers in environmental science/studies, outdoor education, and other conservation-related fields.
This year’s CRFS runs from June 30 to July 14. Applications are due by May 15, but will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so apply soon! For more information and to apply, go to wildsight.ca/fieldschool.

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