Rogue River Rendezvous

James Vonesh

Jan 1, 2022

Last October 3 - 8 the RFSN hosted the Rogue River Rendezvous at the Siskiyou Field Institute and on the Rogue River in southwest Oregon. This was the last "incubator" meeting and we focused on building leadership capacity and reviewing plans to roll out the "full RCN-UBE" in January 2022. We had a diverse group of 24 participants from 17 universities across 12 states. The Rendezvous kicked off Sunday afternoon with a full schedule of programming at SFI including ice breakers and introductions, pre-river trip orientation by Steve Welch of ARTA River Trips, communal meal preparation, and an evening panel on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion organized by RFSN Co-PI Denielle Perry (North Arizona University). The DEI panel featured Breanna Ondich of the Society for Freshwater Science's Emerge program, Sandra Clinton (UNC Charlotte) of Promoting Geoscience Research, Education, and Success (PROGRESS), Anita Marshall (University of Florida) of the International Association for Geoscience Diversity (IAGD) Library of Inclusive Technology (LIFT) Program, Risa Shimoda from the River Management Society River Training Center, and Joseph Gazing Wolf from Arizona State University. We definitely wore out the jet-lagged East-coasters! Monday we headed out early to Graves Creek put in on the Wild & Scenic Rogue River. After rigging and a safety talk from our ARTA guides we launched late morning and had a gorgeous day on the river to our first camp at Wildcat, portaging around the consequential Rainey Falls en route. At camp, RFSN Co-PI and Sierra Nevada University faculty Andy Rost gave a lesson on the natural history of the region. Andy has been bringing a river field course to the Rogue for the past 10 years. After dinner, RFSN Co-PI and Prescott College faculty member Mathieu Brown facilitated a discussion around risk assessment, management and river safety.
Tuesday was a long river day to our next camp at the Rogue River Ranch, stopping at the historic cabin of author Zane Gray for lunch (and dancing lessons). Conditions were cold and rainy resulting in creative activities at lunch to keep warm and camaraderie around the fire in camp. Wednesday the sun returned. We took a half-day to layover at the ranch to create space for lesson sharing. Andy Rost led a BOD lab for the entire group and then we broke into smaller groups for three concurrent field lab tutorials. Andy led a stream flow measurement lab, RFSN co-PI and UC Davis faculty Sarah Yarnell led a mapping/visualization exercise, and Mathieu led place-based human and natural history visualization activity. We had the good fortune to have Freshwater Illustrated photographer/documentary filmmaker Jeremy Monroe drive in and join us for the morning. That afternoon we floated the breathtaking Mule Creek Canyon and portaged around Blossom Bar Rapid before our third camp at Half Moon Bar. After setting up camp and dinner, Kari O'Connell (Oregon State STEM Research Center) PI of the NSF RCN-UBE Undergraduate Field Experience & Research Network (UFERN) taught us about the UFERN Model for designing field studies (see below) under the stars and around the campfire. Thursday, our final river day, started with a downstream hike along the Rogue River trail. Sarah Yarnell highlighted evidence of historic hydrologic mining along the way. At lunch Emily Ward from Rocky Mountain College and the UFERN Assessment team introduced us to a variety of assessment tools UFERN has gathered together to support scholarship around field pedagogy best practices. That afternoon we reached the take out and Foster Bar and said goodbye to our ARTA support team and headed up over the Siskiyous via Bear Camp Road to Grants Pass for a dinner in town and beds at at SFI. Friday we workshopped all day around the theme of turning the "vision" of our full 5-year proposal into a reality for year one. We organized by working group committees and planned next steps for the project roll out. That evening we shared a final communal dinner and time to informally connect before we dispersed Saturday morning. Post workshop assessment provided some great feedback for how to improve but the general tone was that the rendezvous was a resounding success. On a scale of 0 - 5 (N = 17), over the course of the workshop the ability to articulate the goals of the RFSN increased from 3.8 to 4.7 and participants generally left with a strong sense of our next steps (4.4). Participants also found that the workshop was very effective at promoting relationship building with other participants (4.9). Overall, satisfaction with the event (4.7) and investment in helping the RFSN reach its goals (4.6) were very high. Here is the full photo-journal from the Rogue Rendezvous.