Faculty and Trip Leaders
Born on the equator and raised in Minnesota’s Northwoods, Cory Dack decided to go investigate her Ecuadorian heritage by teaching English in Quito, the historic capital city of Ecuador. After a few years of rappelling down waterfalls, swimming with sharks in the Galápagos Islands, and climbing peaks throughout the Andes Mountains, the beauty of Lake Superior beckoned her home. Currently in her 11th year as a wilderness guide, Cory is incredibly excited to spend the next 100 days on the Mississippi River as both a Wilderness Inquiry expedition leader and an instructor for Augsburg University. She looks forward to making some incredible memories over the next few months with all of the students and staff on The River Semester!
Ann Koller is an avid explorer who loves to experience new environments and cultures. She grew up in Minneapolis with a family that only vacationed in tents. After graduating with a degree in History and French from the College of St. Benedict, Ann moved to Chicago for volunteer service working with young women in the public schools. She then moved to Europe to live, teach, and learn in both France and Scotland. Increasingly interested in experiential education and with a professional background in leadership and youth development, she returned to school to obtain a Master’s degree in Outdoor Education. Ann has worked for 6 years with Wilderness Inquiry and has spent countless hours leading trips and paddling Voyageur canoes. Ann is thrilled to join the River Semester as both a guide and supplemental instructor as it blends her passion for teaching, paddling and spending time forming community. She is excited to continue to learn from the Mississippi and all of the students and staff joining the expedition!
Peter Carlson joins the 2018 expedition from his research position at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment in Uppsala. Originally from the Minnesota, Dr. Carlson grew up exploring and swimming in the Mississippi, and brings extensive experience in stream ecology and field research on the Mississippi, Ohio, and numerous other watersheds in the U.S. and Sweden. His research is focused on energy flows between stream-riparian habitats, in particular, on quantifying important interacting influences of land use and microhabitat on pathways of resource transfers. He is also doing research on the ecological impacts of dam removal, and he is very excited to be sharing his love of stream ecology and field research with the students on the trip this year, as well as learning more about the river from all the people we meet along the way.
Joe Underhill is the Program Director of the River Semester and has been teaching and engaged in environmental politics for the last 30 years, from the Hudson River to San Francisco Bay and now on the Mississippi River. Ever since arriving in Minneapolis he has been working on bringing students out on the river, leading to the first offering of the River Semester in Fall 2015. The students had a great time on that trip, learned a lot, and building on that experience he is thrilled to be putting together this second offering of the River Semester. His goal is to increase our understanding of the causes and dynamics of current social and environmental problems and help with efforts to decrease our impact on the environment, increase social justice, and move towards a more sustainable economy. These are big goals, but ones we can, and must, be working on in whatever ways we can. He sees the River Semester as a model for how we can teach and educate college students in the 21st Century–experiential, interdisciplinary, applied, challenging, problem-based, and also a lot of fun.
affiliated faculty and Guest Lecturers
Linda Buturian is in her 16th year at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches and designs curricula that integrates the humanities and sciences in order foster creative approaches to learning about social justice issues. She is the author of World Gone Beautiful: Life Along the Rum River (2008) and The Changing Story: digital stories that participate in transforming teaching and learning (2016). Prof. Buturian is be traveling with the expedition for 10 days and working with students over the course of the semester on their shared multimedia story-telling.
Prof. Reuben Heine, Geography Department, Augustana College, Rock Island, IL
Prof. Jessica Ennis, Physics Department, Augsburg University
Prof. Kristen Chamberlain, Communications Department, Augsburg University
Prof. Bill Green, History Department, Augsburg University
Prof. Eric Buffalohead, American Indian Studies Department, Augsburg University
Prof. Henry Yoon, Psychology Department, Augsburg University
Prof. Evren Guler, Psychology Department, Augsburg University
Prof. Lars Christiansen, Sociology Department, Augsburg University
Demey Everett is currently in her third year at Augsburg. She is from the Minneapolis area where she was born and raised her whole life. Her major is Biology with a double minor in Religion and Environmental Studies. She decided to take part in the River Semester because of her love of nature and passion for the connection that can be drawn between natural resources and biology. She hopes that the River Semester will combine these topics and allowing for full immersion into nature and learning to take place.
Clayton Bodine is Senior at Augsburg. Studying Business Management with a double Minor in M.I.S. and Environmental Studies. He plays on the Augsburg University Baseball team and enjoys spending time with family including his two younger brothers. Decided to go to Augsburg because of the amazing location and the educational and athletic opportunities presented. Is going on the River Semester because of the amazing outdoor experience and the opportunity to continue my senior year by spending a lot of time on the river. Hopes to gain some perspective about business on the river and how living on the Mississippi differs from region to region.
Tanner Hintz comes from Lino Lakes, MN, and is Majoring in Clinical Psychology and minoring in both French and Biology. At first she only wanted to do the River Semester because a study away/abroad trip was required by the school, but after learning more information from her friend the River Semester began to sound like a lot of fun. She has never been camping or canoeing before. She thought it would be a lot of fun and a great new experience for her. She is hoping to learn more about how the Mississippi is affected by people and how other things affect the river.
Espoir DelMain grew up in the Twin Cities and is a sophomore at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, and has spent a lot of time in the Northwoods of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Growing up paddling and camping, she has schemed up and gone on many wilderness trips but has been dreaming of paddling the Mississippi for a long time, and is so excited for this opportunity. She loves finding and cultivating the intersections of her interests in the arts, environmental activism and foreign languages and cultures. In the past this has looked like working on environmental issues during high school and now into college with community groups as well as campus organizations and more recently attended the UN Climate Negotiations last November in Germany. On the river the intersections of her interests will look many different ways but will include her independent place-based dance project and discovering how we can leverage our experience to work for justice and advocacy along the river.
Liam DelMain is a student at the University of Minnesota, in their second year pursuing a degree in Youth Studies. They grew up on the south shore of Lake Superior, and water has always been one of the most important parts of their life. It has long been a dream of theirs to paddle the Mississippi, and when they heard about River Semester from an alumni they met up in the north woods there was no question that they would apply. Liam is most excited about developing relationships with other young people who are stoked about expeditionary learning, and pursuing their independent research project on place names and narratives in public history.
Faith Moua grew up in Minneapolis, MN where the dogs in her neighborhood influenced her interest in animals, which progressed toward her love for animals that solely derived from raising her family dog. This passion of hers lead to her vocation as a Veterinarian. She studies in Biology to pursue her goal. The River Semester program conveyed a message of being adventurous, gaining personal experiences, earning relationships and connections, overcoming challenges, intimacy with nature, and much more. All in which lead to her final decision to come on the trip.
Grant Berg is a Junior at Augsburg University. Born in Minneapolis and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, Grant had long had a passion for politics and history and has been studying political science and history at Augsburg. Grant is a trans student who has been transitioning for the past year and a half, and has given a TEDXUMN talk discussing his struggles with transitioning and living in the USA during the Trump era. He decided to join the Augsburg University River Semester to push against stereotypes about trans folks, as well as challenge himself with a new learning environment as well as new try new physical challenges. Grant plans on joining the United States Marine Corps post graduation to pursue a career as a judge advocate
Camila Payan is a senior at Augsburg, majoring in Biopsychology and is studying to become a medical doctor. She moved to the United States from Colombia with her parents and older brother at age 5, and grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota. Camila wants to go on the River Semester because she has wants to partake in a life changing experience, and when she heard about his opportunity she thought that this might just be it. She loves nature, camping, hiking, and just going with the flow. Although she is terrified of bugs, she is exited about being surrounded by nature, being more mindful, meeting new people, and experiential learning.
Emile Mongiat will be attending the 2018 River Semester. Originally from the city of Saint Paul, he has lived relatively close to the river his entire life but has never really explored it very much, which is something he regrets. In summer 2018 he worked on the Padelford Riverboats and that experience really gave him a chance to see the value and the importance of the river and what it has to offer. He wants to dig more into that this fall and learn the real importance of it. This fall, he will be doing an ethnography of the Mississippi River which means that he will be making observations about the river while on the river. Ethnographers make observations about people and places when they are in that place, which is exactly what he will be doing on my trip. He thinks it is going to be a really interesting experience spending 100 days on the river. He has been camping and canoeing his entire life and is so excited to be able to do it for such a long period of time. He looks forward to gaining a new perspective on what the river life is like because he only knows a small part of it from working on the riverboats for 4 months. He wants to try and make as many acquaintances with the people that he is going on the trip with. They all seem like really cool people and he wants to get to know them all. As he put it, “I think this is going to be a life changing experience and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Nell Gehrke grew up in the small town of Good Thunder, Minnesota. Some of her first memories are of her mother teaching her to skip rocks across the Maple River that flows a mile out of town. When she was in high school, her family moved to Northfield and she became acquainted with the Canon River. She still goes back there to visit her family and she’ll miss them very much while she’s away. Nell came to Augsburg University in 2016 to study Environmental Studies, and she now calls Minneapolis and the Mississippi River home.
Third-year Political Science and History major, Kristy Ornelas chose to adventure down the Mississippi because she needed a break from the big city. A newbie to canoeing and camping, Kristy hopes to rethink materialism and immerse herself to the teachings of the Mississippi River.
Rosario Gail Garcia Bartolo is a Mexican American from Northfield, Minnesota. She is a third-year student majoring in International Relations and Communications. She decided to go on the river semester because it was one of the first things that drew her to attending Augsburg University. R. Gail is excited to familiarize herself better with the Mississippi River because it is such an important part of the United States and Minnesota currently and historically. She is also excited to be working with the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area to engage the Latinx community with the environment and natural world through social media and her own experience going down the Mississippi River.
Kayla Cross is a sophomore majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Biology and American Indian Studies. They were born in Iowa, but have had a very transient lifestyle, which made the River Semester seem appealing to them. They learned about the River Semester while still in high school, and the program was one of the reasons they chose to attend Augsburg. They are excited to learn on and from the Mississippi River, and hope to meet wonderful people and explore future career options within the field of outdoor labor.