MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the perfect time of year to get outdoors — whether it’s hunting, fishing, or just taking in the fall colors. But if not for a pilot program in some Minneapolis high schools, a group of teenagers might not have ever had the chance to experience it all.

“You hear about the achievement gap, but we also believe there’s an opportunity gap,” said Nancy Warner, the education program director for Wilderness Inquiry. “A lot of people don’t have the opportunity to go canoeing or fishing, even though we live in this land of lakes where we think everyone has this opportunity. Everyone doesn’t.”

That changed Friday. Through a program called Wilderness Inquiry students at Edison and North High School got a taste of the great outdoors at Ft. Snelling State Park. The students tried canoeing, fishing and geocaching; but the trip was more than just an excuse to get out of the classroom.

“We collaborate with each school’s teachers to see how they can bring it back to the classroom, whether it’s figuring out the volume of the river, or the geometry or the boats hitting the waves,” Warner said.

For a lot of kids, this was a completely new experience, and understandably, some were a little nervous. But it was also a great opportunity to overcome the fear of the unknown.

“A lot of kids haven’t had the opportunity to get in the water or to fish,” Warner said. “So that’s a big part of it: conquering fear. And we help them do it, and in the end I think everyone feels great about their day.”

The students were able to take part in the Wilderness Inquiry program thanks a collaboration between the Pohlad Family Foundation, The National Park Service, Minneapolis Public Schools and the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.


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