University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Welcoming Students to a University in a Park on a River

off we go!.JPGClasses started this week at the University of Minnesota, as they did at colleges and universities across the country.

But not every incoming first year student had the privilege of being welcomed to a “world class university on a world class river, in a national park.”  A handful of the over 5,000 new students at the University of Minnesota, in the Twin Cities, paddled a canoe and took a hike along the Mississippi last Saturday, all while learning how they could be ongoing stewards of their campus, the river, and the Mississippi National Park and Recreation Area (MNRRA).

Ranger-led hike Welcome Week.JPGThis program for 120 first year students was made possible by the collaboration of MNRRA, Wilderness Inquiry, the University’s River Life Partnership, and the Office of International Programs, which has been featuring water-themed grants and programming for the past year and a half.  The University’s Welcome Week Program for entering students organized the student participation.

In addition to learning the history and natural history of this stretch of the river, and how to paddle a 10 passenger voyageur canoe, students learned how they can make the Mighty Mississippi part of their college experience, no matter which major or field of study they choose.

The university’s River Rangers program will offer students opportunities to learn about, explore, and care for the Mississippi in a number of ways, through

  • classes that address river-oriented subjects,
  • special learning opportunities such as senior capstones or graduate thesis projects,
  • career development internships or practicum experiences
  • service projects, whether they involve habitat renewal, helping community youth enjoy the river, or some other means
  • or just plain fun along the river, hiking, biking, or just getting away from the hustle and bustle of campus.

The Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota is bisected by the river; every day thousands of students walk, bike, or take a connector bus from the West Bank to the East Bank and back again.

For at least 120 of those students, as they cross the bridge high over the river, the knowledge of what it feels like to be on the river skimming over its waters will be a permanent part of their college experience.

Saturday was a beautiful early fall day; check out these photos of the event.

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One Comment

  1. Mark GormanSeptember 10, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Canoeing and otherwise getting out on the river are the best ways to connect with and experience the wonder of it all. Great program!

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