Science and Leadership on the Rogue River
ENVS 360 Environmental Science: Natural History of the Rogue River
ODAL 361 Outdoor Adventure Leadership: Expedition Whitewater Rafting
Professors: Andy Rost, Daryl Teittinen
May 19 – 29 2019
Environmental Science professor Andy Rost and Outdoor Adventure Leadership professor Daryl Teittinen lead the 7th annual Rogue River Expedition field course in May 2019. 13 students, two faculty, and two OARS river guides traveled 50 miles over 10 days through the beautiful Rogue River Canyon in Southern Oregon.
Natural History of the Rogue River
This course explores the complex and diverse natural history of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River and the surrounding Siskiyou National Forest. Students use a range of environmental sciences, including geography, geology, hydrology, and stream and forest ecology. They also learn about the human history of the Rogue River Canyon. Students make detailed field observations, recorded in their field journal, and collect data for their research projects. There’s a well-stocked field library for reference, hands-on exercises, and presentations by the students and Dr. Rost.
Each student in the Natural History class collects data every day along the length of the river for their mini research project. This gives the students practical experience working with data in the wild. Good data is a requirement for good science! Topics this year included geomorphology, water quality, tree distribution patterns, wildflowers, lichens, ferns, mushrooms, and the history of indigenous cultures. Each student collects, organizes, analyzes and presents their data to the whole group at the end of the trip.
Expedition Whitewater Rafting
Students in this Outdoor Adventure Leadership course learn to be wilderness river guides. Every day on the Rogue, a class III Wild and Scenic River, they learn and practice new skills. Students row the heavy gear boats. They captain rafts full of their classmates through the rapids, and paddle through solo in inflatable kayaks. They also organize and lead all the logistics as full-fledged expedition members. That includes selecting campsites and organizing set-up, take-down, meals and gear for the whole group. On a river expedition the boats carry all the gear and food, so we don’t have to pack lightly. As a group, we make, eat, and clean up after plenty of wonderful meals.
Each student takes one of the two courses offered, although several students repeat the trip to take the other course the second time. But we travel and learn as one community of river people. Course material filters back and forth between the two classes, and students learn from both professors and from each other. By the end, the expedition has become a rich interdisciplinary experience for everybody.
The Beauty of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River
In 1968, the US government enacted the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to safeguard rivers of outstanding wild, scenic, or recreational value. The Rogue River was one of the eight original Wild and Scenic Rivers designated in the act itself. After 51 years, 209 rivers totaling over 12,000 miles have received Wild and Scenic status. But it’s still easy to see why this river is so special. We are so lucky to be able to spend ten days surrounded by its beauty on our annual river expedition. We’ll be back there next spring – come join us on this remarkable educational journey!
The Science Department at Sierra Nevada College offers travel and field courses every year. Check out Great Basin raptors, Pacific coast sea anemones, or tropical rainforests in Costa Rica. Join our community of students and faculty who make science happen in interesting new places.