MISSISSIPPI RIVER 2013

 

In 2013...

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WRA piloted the Paddle Forward program and paddled the Mississippi River from Bemidji, MN to New Orleans, LA.  Eleven young adults embarked on this journey completing the 2,000 plus mile journey in 70 days.  They connected with organizations, individuals, and community members to learn about how they relate to the river.  Using an blogs and later producing videos they shared these stories K-12 schools across the country engaging them in an adventure learning educational programming. 


Meet the Expeditioners!

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MARTHA BRUMMITT
I hail from Milwaukee, WI and earned a degree in Geology from Colorado College. Growing up,  I spent my summers at Clearwater Camp where I canoed in the Boundary Waters and developed my love for the outdoors. I value experiential education, and for the last two years have worked for several organizations leading youth on wilderness trips and teaching environmental science. From working at an educational maple syrup farm to teaching high school Spanish at a leadership semester school, I love adventures and seize educational opportunities. 

 

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ERIKA GOTCHER
I grew up in Madison, WI where I could most often be found canoeing in a large puddle in my backyard or sailing on Lake Monona. I attended the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities earning a degree in Theatre Arts. During my undergraduate career, I spent my summers working at Camp Manito-wish YMCA, in Boulder Junction, WI; empowering participants between ages ten and eighteen with collaborative leadership skills through wilderness tripping. I have led trips for the Center for Outdoor Adventure through the University of Minnesota and with Wilderness Inquiry in Minneapolis. I enjoy figuring out new ways to infuse art and theatre into every experience I have in the outdoors.

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JOHN HARTZHEIM
I grew up hiking, paddling, and generally poking around in the outdoors in my home state of Tennessee. I've been finding ways to spend time outside as long as I can remember, and for this reason have developed an interest in how folks define nature and interact with the outdoors. Somehow I found myself in Minnesota attending St Olaf College, where I received a Bachelors in Biology in 2011. I fell in love with the Twin Cities, and spent the next 2 years studying tuberculosis at the University of Minnesota.

During that time, I met some fine young folks who wanted to head down south and an adventure was born! I love cooking, and eating, I play the violin, and can't turn down an opportunity to explore new places.

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ERICK IMMLER
I graduated from St. John's University and spent my adolescence surrounded by forests and water bodies. Although the relationship between humans and the environment has historically been one of dominance/imbalance which has led to instability on both sides, our current understanding of the natural world and technological advancements have allowed us to largely hide this conflict. Issues like climate change, water scarcity, and pollution have continued to worsen, despite our growing understanding of why this is happening. Witnessing these effects in Tanzania, New Orleans, and through my work in the Watershed Division of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has compelled me to take action; to bring environmental stewardship to my community.

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ANNA JOHNSON
I have been a canoe enthusiast and passionate environmentalist since I was a child. This lust for the outdoors and a sense of urgency to protect our natural resources has guided me through life. Most recently, it has led me to help start up a non-profit, Wild River Academy. Wild River Academy provides canoe expeditions along the Minnesota River. Trips stop along the route to interact with environmental organizations, community members, farmers, and State Park Rangers. This experiential learning opportunity not only enhances outdoor skills, it exposes participants to the social and natural environment in the Minnesota River watershed, encouraging a sense of peace and place.

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LIZ JUST
A native Wisconsinite growing up just outside of Madison, WI, I attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to pursue a degree in Environmental Education and Sustainability Studies.  During college, an ongoing love for the outdoors merged with my studies during two off campus experiential education courses, fueling my current passions and interests.  The first, a domestic program in the Twin Cities, broaden my perspectives around different issues such as environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy.  The second experience took me halfway around the world to India where I spent six weeks hiking and camping in the Himalayas while studying culture, alpine ecosystems, mountain farming, and sustainability in a developing nation. These experiences lead me to a summer and fall guiding wilderness trips in the Midwest with Wilderness Inquiry.

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NICK RYAN
Experiencing different social structures and lifestyles has been the backbone of my experience since childhood. I have lived in Wisconsin, Southern California, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington DC, and Minnesota. Exploring all of these great social landscapes has been a gift for me. I studied Sociology and social structure as a minor, at Western Illinois University, to learn more about how people interact within our society. This trip down the Mississippi River will allow me to get involved, explore, and share the experiences of community members living along this great American Waterway.

 

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SARAH SCHAEFER
I grew up on a small island off the coast of Maine and, though immersed in the natural beauty of Acadia National Park, it wasn't until I spent a month in Ecuador my junior year of high school that a love of adventure really took root within me.  After high school, I attended Mount Holyoke College for Religion and Gender Studies and I fostered my passions for social justice and community building.  For the past two years I taught high school English in Washington, D.C.  and gained a Masters degree in Special Education at George Mason.  Among other roles, I advocated for my students to become environmental stewards and leaders of their communities. Last month I decided to take a break from the classroom to venture into the greater national community for myself.

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LEE VUE
I'm a Hmong American who currently resides in Saint Paul, MN where I spend most of my time photographing, traveling, and volunteering. I graduated from the University of MN-Twin Cities with a BA in Political Science. YMCA Camp Menogyn and the BWCA contributed to my passion for the great outdoors and wilderness. I'm always seeking a new adventure that will add to my learning and love for the environment and outdoors, and to make a difference in my community.

 

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NATALIE WARREN
I grew up in Miami, Florida where I attended the New World School of the Arts for saxophone performance. In 2005, I flew to Minneapolis and headed North to YMCA Camp Menogyn, a wilderness camp based in Minnesota. After a two week canoeing trip in the BWCA, I fell in love with the wilderness and later decided to pursue an Environmental Studies degree at St. Olaf. In 2011, myself and Ann Raiho were the first two women to paddle the 2,000 miles from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay, following Eric Sevareid's route from Canoeing With the Cree. I believe that wilderness adventures help young adults reach their full physical and emotional potential. After a year of presenting on my Hudson Bay Bound adventure, I wanted to provide something tangible for my audiences.

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SAMI PFEEFER
I grew up in North Carolina, in the far suburbs of Charlotte. I spent most of my summers either on the South Carolina coast, or in the Blue Ridge mountains where I learned how to not be afraid of everything wild. I credit much of that fear-busting to the Green River Preserve, a camp I both attended and staffed which focuses on primitive skills and environmental justice. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College in 2010, I chose the Twin Cities as my first foray into urban living. I write plays, shoot films, and volunteer within some of the Cities' radical communities. I continually find myself humbled by the intelligence and respect of the activists and artists I'm surrounded by, and I'm confident this trip will be no less impressive. I'm honored to be a part of it.

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Donations provide funding for the Paddle Forward documentary.