Section Menu

Need Help? Click to Chat!

Pinholes, Xtratufs and a whole lot of pasta: Expedition Alaska heads for the Yukon River

John Bouman, an Expedition Alaska teaching assistant, takes to the upper Matanuska River to test gear and standard paddle signals so that rafters may stay in touch for safety.

John Bouman, an Expedition Alaska teaching assistant, takes to the upper Matanuska River to test gear and standard paddle signals so that rafters may stay in touch for safety.

Days of safety training and classroom learning are about to pay off for University students departing Sept. 3 for Alaska’s remote Interior and a 158-mile float trip along the Yukon River.

“For some of them, this is the first time they’ve put on a life jacket,” said Simon Frez-Albrecht, an Outdoor Studies major and among teaching assistants recruited for Expedition Alaska.

Teaching Assistant Betsy Young, ’03, works with Assistant Professor Amanda Booth to help inventory expedition gear, much of it provided by the University. Booth teaches the natural history section of Expedition Alaska.

Teaching Assistant Betsy Young, ’03, works with Assistant Professor Amanda Booth to help inventory expedition gear, much of it provided by the University. Booth teaches the natural history section of Expedition Alaska.

Expedition is a hybrid of classroom and field learning. Its goal is to introduce first-year and sophomore transfer students to active learning as they adjust to their new life in Alaska and at APU. The class is the only one of its kind in Alaska.

 

“What they learn out there is personal responsibility, and you can apply that here” in classes, Frez-Albrecht said. “You return from a trip like this one realizing, ‘I’m a rock star.’”

Pre-trip staging Aug. 29 turned the gym of Moseley Sports Center into an outdoor gear warehouse peopled by students in Xtratufs. River rafts, canoes and a boxed portable toilet were staged along with stacks of fruit snacks, tidy bags of bowtie pasta and big boxes of dehydrated hashbrowns.

Working together on tent set-up were first-year students Lauren Himmelreich from Spokane, Wash.; Maggie Schafter of Denver; and Tayler Duclos of Moore, Okla.

“Help me lift this up,” Himmelreich said, hoisting the tent. “OK, and I’ll look for pinholes,” Schafter said. The team was following instructions given by Expedition TA and outdoor guide Betsy Young,’03.

A six-hour training day Aug. 20 found Associate Professors Timothy Rawson (left) and David McGivern among Expedition Alaska faculty and teaching assistants practicing water safety maneuvers. The group gathered at the upper Matanuska River between Hicks Creek and King Mountain. Although training day was chilly, Rawson says his group is looking forward to sunny autumn weather in the Interior: “This adventure exemplifies the kind of education we provide at APU.” Expedition Alaska is APU’s first-year experience course and features a 158-mile float trip on the Yukon River starting Sept.

A six-hour training day Aug. 20 found Associate Professors Timothy Rawson (left) and David McGivern among Expedition Alaska faculty and teaching assistants practicing water safety maneuvers. The group gathered at the upper Matanuska River between Hicks Creek and King Mountain. Although training day was chilly, Rawson says his group is looking forward to sunny autumn weather in the Interior: “This adventure exemplifies the kind of education we provide at APU.” Expedition Alaska is APU’s first-year experience course and features a 158-mile float trip on the Yukon River starting Sept.

Himmelreich, 18, is a marine biology major who says Expedition Alaska was among reasons she chose APU. “I’m excited about learning,” she said. “I’ve made really good friends here. I already feel at home.”

Originally from Tel Aviv, 26-year-old Yarden Shalit enrolled in Expedition and is majoring in sustainability studies. He came to APU after working in Dutch Harbor as an oil spill first responder.

Shalit said he’s spent a lot of time along the Alaska coast, training and responding to accidents like the Kulluk drill rig grounding south of Kodiak Island in January. “But I’ve not journeyed inland,” he said.

Expedition students are organized into one of three topics – sustainability studies, natural history and wilderness skills – depending on their major. All three groups are traveling the river together from Eagle to Circle. Faculty includes University President Don Bantz, who’ll help teach the sustainability course.

Yukon River provisions are re-packaged and stored in plastic zippered bags. As much commercial packaging as possible is discarded before travel to reduce hauled-out trash.

Yukon River provisions are re-packaged and stored in plastic zippered bags. As much commercial packaging as possible is discarded before travel to reduce hauled-out trash.

Shalit said working in Alaska has convinced him that natural resource development has potential to displace Native people.

“I want to see how we can work with development so that it doesn’t hurt the subsistence lifestyle,” he said. “I want to see how I can help.”

Comments

  1. Denis Horning says:

    I was hoping there might be periodic updates from the river. :-) It sounds like a wonderful experience. I’m impressed with APU. My wife graduated from the school back when it was Alaska Methodist University and I have not kept up with things since she passed away. Im thinking I need to consider supporting the school financially. Thanks for the interesting info on the trip!

Speak Your Mind

*