Journey through the Monument participants and leaders take a break along the shore of the Upper Missouri Wild and Scenic River (above), while 7th graders from Fort Benton School in Montana use their shore time to examine macroinvertebrates (below).
Staff from the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument developed a 2-½ day outdoor educational journey for 7th
grade students on the Wild and Scenic Upper Missouri River. This project incorporates an interdisciplinary curriculum and a canoe trip. Students hike to, and learn about, unique geological formations, Native American tipi rings, homesteads, and Lewis and Clark sites along the river. They also engage in journaling, art, aquatic ecology, botany/plant identification stations, and learn relevant local history throughout their trip. Leave No Trace principles and safe camping protocols are discussed and employed throughout the outing. This is a unique opportunity to get kids outside for several days to learn all about the features of the wild and scenic river and the national monument.
In 2008, Fort Benton Schools participated with their 7th grade students in A Journey through the Monument. Almost none of these students had seen this stretch of the Missouri River before. Few of the students had done an overnight river trip and some of these students had never been camping at all before this opportunity. Nearly all students participating thus far speak of returning to float the river again with their families. After the trip the students come to realize the treasures they have on BLM land right in their own backyard. Many students have sent the BLM personal thank you cards for helping them go on the river. Many say it is the best thing they have ever done in school.
The word has spread! Fort Benton School is continuing their river trip program for 7th grade students, and other local schools are now participating in A Journey through the Monument. The word has spread throughout BLM as well. BLM’s Connie Jacobs has been selected to receive a Silver “Excellence in Interpretation or Environmental Education” award for her role in the development of “Journey.” Along with Connie, Silver Award winner Nick Teague (Spokane, WA, District Office) and Gold Award winner Beth Paragamian (Coeur d’Alene, ID, Field Office) will receive their awards at the National Association for Interpretation’s National Workshop in Hartford, CT, on November 19, 2009.