Columbia River Field School

History | Culture | Salmon | Environment | Energy

An immersive eleven-day canoe trip and exploration of Columbia River issues, the Columbia River Field School invites 16 Columbia Basin youth aged 15-18 to travel by canoe while exploring important aspects of the river’s story through ecology, hydrology, geography, economics, politics, history and culture. Participants paddle key sections of the river and visit important sites, including the Columbia Wetlands, historic First Nations’ sites, dams and reservoirs, etc. The Field School is designed to give students a much-needed understanding of the complex challenges and opportunities of the Columbia, so they can shape its future.

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, Lower Arrow Lake, the confluence with Kootenay at Castlegar and south to the US border. Participants learn canoe skills and safety at the start of the journey, camp out at riverside along the way, and paddle important sections of the mighty Columbia.

Along the way, place-based workshops, speakers and discussions will cover the history and the future of the river, including:

  • The geography of the Columbia River
  • The history of river travel, First Nations and European
  • Indigenous peoples: History, culture, future
  • Salmon: History, restoration, cultural importance
  • Key species and Ecology: Endangered fish and birds, invasive species, the Columbia Wetlands.
  • Water quality and quantity: Flows, flooding, glaciers and snowpack, water quality monitoring, nutrient flows
  • Dams and hydroelectricity: Energy and environment, reservoirs and flood control and the impacts of flooding
  • Columbia River Treaty: Impact and opportunities as renegotiation nears

Participants can expect to gain new friends, rich memories, and a holistic understanding of the river that flows through the place they call home, not to mention certifications from the Recreational Canoe Association of BC.

The program cost is $500 with bursaries available (apply as part of the application).

Applications for 2019 coming soon! 

A note on accessibility: If you have any questions or concerns regarding your ability to participate in trip activities due to a physical, mental, or medical condition or disability, please get in touch with us to discuss possible adaptations/accommodations. We will do our best to support you.

For more info, please contact Monica Nissen, Wildsight’s Education Manager: monica(at)

Wildsight thanks the Columbia Basin Trust and Mountain Equipment Coop for making this program possible.

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