The Columbia River Field School is an immersive learning experience for students ages 15-18. Over 15 days, students travel the Columbia River by canoe while exploring important aspects of the river’s story through lessons in geography, ecology, hydrology, technology, economics, politics, history and culture.
Participants gain certifications from the Recreational Canoe Association of BC and learn from a diverse set of qualified experts from Indigenous leaders and knowledge keepers, scientists and writers, to life-long Basin residents and government officials. The Field School is an opportunity to meet other young people from all over the Basin who are passionate about our wild places and conservation on and off the water.
On our journey, we will paddle key sections of the river and visit important places including the headwaters, the Columbia Wetlands, historic First Nations’ sites, dams and reservoirs, and more. The Field School is designed to give you a much-needed understanding of the complex challenges and opportunities of the Columbia, so you can help shape its future. Expect to gain new friends, rich memories, and a holistic understanding of the river that flows through the place you call home.
The Field School explores the Canadian part of the Columbia River by canoe, from the headwaters at Canal Flats, through Columbia Lake and the Columbia Wetlands, the Revelstoke area, the Arrow Lakes Reservoir, and to the confluence with the Kootenay River at Castlegar. Participants learn canoe skills and safety at the start of the journey, camp out on the riverside along the way, and paddle important sections of the mighty Columbia.
• Key species and ecology: River and wetland ecosystems, endangered and threatened species, invasive species
• Water quality and quantity: Flows, flooding, glaciers and snowpack, water quality monitoring, nutrient flows
• Dams and hydroelectricity: Energy and environment, reservoirs and flood control, the history of dam construction
• Columbia River Treaty: Impacts and opportunities, the ongoing renegotiation
• Climate change: Causes, current and projected impacts, challenges and opportunities for adaptation and mitigation
• Youth on policy: What can young people do to have a voice in decision making?
Wildsight thanks the Arjay R. and Frances F. Miller Foundation, the Columbia Basin Trust, the Province of B.C., the Real Estate Foundation of BC, the Recreational Canoe Association of BC, and School District 8 for making the Columbia River Field School and Teach the Columbia possible.