On Tuesday August 22nd, new St. Paul Public Schools superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard put on a PFD and got in a Voyageur canoe for a transformative summer journey. He sat in the bow of a canoe packed with students from the American Indian Education Program. The group of students, teachers, and Wilderness Inquiry outdoor leaders loaded into canoes at Hidden Falls Regional Park at 10:00 AM and paddled to Fort Snelling State Park. Here, they learned American Indian culture and history while huddled around the Dakota Memorial. John Bobolink, the director of American Indian Studies for Saint Paul Public Schools, explained how learning about American Indian history was something his generation didn’t experience. Students connected to the place and the people who stood on that ground before them—in a way that textbooks can’t bring to life. After wrapping up at Fort Snelling, students loaded back into the canoes to finish their paddling voyage. Students arrived at Harriet Island in downtown Saint Paul and returned to school—where the learning and connections from the day continued.
Superintendent Gothard later shared that the canoe trip with Wilderness Inquiry was an exemplary way to bring learning alive to students and make content relevant. In addition, he added that the students are now connected to the beautiful public parks in the city.
To date in 2017, Wilderness Inquiry has worked with thousands of students from the Twin Cities, bringing academic curricula to life through outdoor experiences.