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New St. Croix Institute Offers Inaugural Classes

By Jenny Bjelland
UW-RF News Bureau

MAY 13, 2005--Have you ever wanted to explore the St. Croix Scenic Riverway by foot? Have you wondered how the natural treasures of our region were formed? Or have you considered studying the health of local rivers and streams?

This summer, the St. Croix Summer Institute, a new collaborative educational effort between the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the National Park Service, will be offering its first two courses where students can discover many of the secrets of area natural resources.

Both courses focus on the environment along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, a national park that is one of the few riverways on the North American Continent to be protected for its entire length. Specific course topics include hydrology, geology and biology and are geared toward environmentalists, community and business leaders, historians, educators, land owners and local citizens.

Lavas, Springs, Glaciers, Deltas: A Taste of the Geology and Hydrology of the St. Croix Watershed will be offered June 15 and 16 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Participants in this noncredit course will explore Interstate Park and the Dalles of the St. Croix River to gain a deeper understanding of the continental rifting, ancient vulcanism, sea-cliffs, glacial scouring and glacial meltwaters of the area.

The second day of field experience will be spent tracing the flow of the Kinnickinnic River from source to outlet with emphasis on springs, river processes, delta formations and environmental issues associated with surface water and groundwater.

Michael Middleton and Kerry Keen, professors of plant and earth science at UW-RF, will lead participants through this outdoor exploration of the area's natural resources. They will share their extensive knowledge of the area’s natural features while the group travels along local hiking trails of low to moderate difficulty. No climbing is involved.

The second course, Computer Modeling-Based Approach for Environmental Studies, is offered as a two-credit, graduate-level biology course Aug. 1-12 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at UW-RF.

In this course participants will conduct field studies throughout the St. Croix Valley gathering data related to waterway health. The collected field data, along with catalogued data from the National Park Service, will then be used to create computer simulation models using STELLA simulation software. The STELLA software allows users to investigate questions and test hypotheses about the environmental effects of abiotic and biotic factors without manipulating the waterway in question.

Elaine Hardwick, an assistant professor of biology at UW-RF, will serve as the course instructor.
For more information or to register for the St. Croix Summer Institute courses visit the UW-RF Outreach and Graduate Studies Web site,, contact the office by phone at 715/425-3256, or by e-mail at

The cost of registration for the Lavas, Springs, Glaciers, Deltas: A Taste of the Geology and Hydrology of the St. Croix Watershed course is $89. The cost includes park entry fees, lunches, snacks and field transportation on the second day. The cost for the Computer Modeling-Based Approach for Environmental Studies course is graduate student tuition. For current tuition rates see the UW-RF Web site at

The St. Croix Summer Institute combines the expertise and resources of UW-RF and the NPS to educate, build connections and strengthen stewardship efforts throughout the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.



Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:24 Central Daylight Time

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