For one week this summer, staff from the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway had the opportunity to interact with, and lead, top honor students from Wesleyan College (located in Macon, GA). These Georgia students journeyed all the way to the St. Croix River of Minnesota/Wisconsin because a Wesleyan College alumna/benefactor read A Call to Action. This alumna/benefactor, Alexis Bighley, is also a Board member of the Arcola Mills Historic Foundation located within the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. According to Bighley, "After I read A Call to Action, I felt that our Wesleyan students could learn a great deal about leadership and life skills by visiting the St. Croix River. I have helped fund this Leadership Institute for more than a decade. Every year, we normally take a group of outstanding college students to cities around the country to speak with business leaders, but, after learning about the leadership skills that can be taught by visiting national parks, we're redesigning the entire Leadership Institute. From here on out, our plan is to seek other national parks that have the capacity to teach our students leadership skills by connecting them to America's special natural and historical places."
The theme of this year's Wesleyan College Leadership Institute was The Importance of Water. During their week-long visit to Minnesota/Wisconsin, the Wesleyan College students also had the opportunity to visit Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Other events during the week included a stop at the Women's Environmental Institute located in the St. Croix Valley and attendance at a play at the Guthrie Theatre located in Minneapolis. Before the students visited the St. Croix River, they had the opportunity to "get a paddle wet" in a national park unit closer to Macon -- the Chatahoochee River National Recreation Area just north of Atlanta. For most of these students, their experience on the Chatahoochee River was the first time they had ever paddled a canoe.
The Wesleyan College Leadership Institute is planning to return to the Midwest Region in 2013.