For the last five years, the Native Teen Guide-in-Training program focused on youth from Monument Valley and Navajo Mountain areas. In June 2017, Canyonlands Field Institute reached out to Native American youth from across Utah and the Four Corners region. This program quickly filled with Native American youth from the Diné Nation and Hopi tribe.
The Canyonlands Field Institute has been leading outdoor experiential learning programs by river for 33 years. Each year, the institute takes Native American youth in grades 8–12 on a multi-day experiential learning program to share career opportunities in the fields of natural resources, outdoor education, tourism, and wilderness medicine. The institute’s stated goal in this program is to help develop the next generation of stewards for public lands on the Colorado Plateau and provide native mentorship to help these young adults find a meaningful and fulfilling career path after high school.
The program began on land at the Kayenta Health Center where teens became certified in first aid and hiked public lands along Comb Ridge to cultural sites. Sand Island Campground served as base camp for the first two nights of the program. On the third morning, the group packed up camp and set off to raft the lower San Juan River beginning in Mexican Hat and ending at Clay Hills. Rafting this remote stretch presented geology, wildlife, and human history around every meander. Instructors discussed guiding practices and rafting techniques as teens honed their rowing and paddling skills.