(PRWEB) September 28, 2005 -- A group of hardy Prescott College students and instructors will depart Flaming Gorge, Utah in early October to study in a riverborne classroom through the Colorado Plateau. The trip will carry them through three states and into the winter months, as they retrace the 1868 journey of explorer John Wesley Powell.
“ Specifically through adversity. ”
Determined to explore unmapped terrain, Powell and 10 men put in at Green River Station, Wyoming and rafted down the Green River, eventually passing into the Grand Canyon. During the trip, they lost much of their food and gear and were nearly killed by river rapids.
Though many never expected to see the men alive again, five of the original ten emerged as heroes several months later, having solved the mysteries contained in the West’s most famous canyon system.
“Nobody knew what was down there,” said trip leader John Farmer, “The mapmakers usually left the canyons blank or they drew in Indians or dragons.”
It’s the first time in over a decade that Prescott College, a small liberal arts school
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based in Prescott, Arizona, has re-traced the route, once considered impassable by pioneers and Native Americans alike. In 1992, Julie Munro, now part of Prescott College’s faculty, designed the trip as part of her Master’s thesis at Mankato State University in Minnesota.
Offered under the banner of Wilderness Exploration and Landscape Studies (WELS), the course is the culmination of three years of planning and obtaining permits on the part of Lead Instructor John Farmer. According to Farmer, returning to the river is an opportunity to use a spectacular landscape as a classroom. According to Farmer, the journey is without precedent. “No other schools do 21-day trips, much less 70-day adventures,” he said.
In this modern-day reprise, the students will juggle lesson-planning and teaching with rafting and practical outdoor living skills in an effort to learn
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The college quarter spent on the river will instruct 11 Prescott college juniors and seniors in diverse topics including teaching theory, group dynamics and white water hydrology. “Prescott College sees value in learning through adventure and always has. People learn a lot about life through adventure and adversity. Specifically through adversity,” said Farmer.
Teaching on a river during the wintertime has built-in challenges. “What keeps me up at night is wondering what the students should wear on their feet,” Farmer said.
According to Farmer, though day-to-day life on rafts will dominate much of the students’ time, they will nonetheless rigorously pursue the academic portion of the trip. “We’re bringing a huge library with us,” Farmer said.
On November 3, halfway through the quarter, the college will present a conference at Green River State Park featuring guest speakers Julie Munro, Grand Canyon Wilderness Coordinator Linda Jalbert, and Grand Canyon Guidebook author Larry Stevens.
Farmer, co-instructors Justin Salamon and Joel Barnes and their students will send frequent dispatches of trip progress, which will appear starting October 13 at the course's site: http://www.prescott.edu/wels.
Prescott College is an independent liberal arts school offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines, including sustainability education and environmental science. The recently established John Wesley Powell Scholarship gives $4000 per year to high achieving students. They are on the web at www.prescott.edu.