University and School Groups
MNA’s Custom Tour staff works with university and school groups to develop educational field studies that provide students with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the land, life, and peoples of the Colorado Plateau. Hands-on experiential activities, interpretive discussions, and field-based exploration bring classroom lessons alive. Itineraries are developed around the group’s stated educational objectives. Possibilities could include a Southwestern American Indian culture field study, a Southwest literature and art retreat, or a Grand Canyon exploration.
For University Classes:
Southwestern American Indian Culture—Explore and celebrate the human experience and diversity of cultures through time on the Colorado Plateau. Students meet with Hopi and Navajo artists, storytellers, and educators who will share their perspectives and stories on such topics as tradition, tribal government, resource management, and education. Students have the opportunity to prepare and enjoy traditional meals with families, work with contemporary Hopi artists to craft pottery and baskets, and dance alongside traditional Navajo dancers. Learn firsthand the lifeways of the people of the Colorado Plateau.
A Deep Map of Place: An Artist’s Retreat—Over more than ten millennia people have made maps, mostly held in memory, of the San Juan River country. Pleistocene hunters and Desert Archaic foragers, Puebloan farmers, local Navajos and Utes, scouts for the Mormon wagon trains, Europeans mining for artifacts or gold or uranium, and now the guides and artists of Bluff City have all possessed intimate knowledge of local geography. In this workshop we’ll create imaginative field journals to record a place that, like all places, is richly layered and personal terrain.
Walking, floating the San Juan perhaps, talking with the locals, we’ll gather information. Applying a poet’s tools for inquiry—keen attention, the curious and lively imagination, and clear language are some—we’ll delve further into the deep particularity of this country. Along the way we’ll speculate on the importance of this work in addressing our own lives and landscapes. Our accounts of place will include maps and other drawings, field notes, poetry, and stories. In the evenings we’ll read to one another from our own work, as well as from the earlier literature of this place.
For Youth Groups:
Canyon Explorations—With the Grand Canyon as their classroom, students learn about the geology, biological diversity, and cultural history of this remarkable place. Students meet with Park Rangers and hike along the rim and into the canyon as they explore and understand the canyon layers and diverse ecosystems of the Grand Canyon. Hands-on activities, including making petroglyphs and pictographs, pottery, and cordage with local archaeologists and educators will introduce students to the human history of the earliest Southwest inhabitants.
Water on the Plateau—Visit Glen Canyon Dam, travel down Marble Canyon, and study local springs and streams to understand the importance of water on the Colorado Plateau. Students will learn about the life-giving sources of water and the diverse plants and animals that depend on these water sources through hands-on experiences. Meeting with Park Rangers and American Indians introduces students to different concerns and points of view, and allows them to think critically and consider these important water issues.
Land of the Condor— The broad valleys and immense cliffs of far northern Arizona form the spectacular landscape in which the once nearly extinct California condor now soars. This landscape serves as our classroom as we take an in-depth look into one of the greatest stories of endangered species recovery ever. This trip begins with a smooth water float and tour of Lonely Dell homestead to introduce students to the geology and history of Marble Canyon and Vermilion Cliffs. After this introduction, students learn about condor biology, conservation, and recovery from the wildlife biologists who spend their days caring for the birds. Using tracking transmitters, students practice such skills as mapping, GPS, and triangulation, applying mathematics and classroom lessons to real world situations.
In addition to learning about the condors, students can participant in BLM surveys of the endangered pediocactus, work with AZ Game and Fish during a fishing ecology clinic, and take hikes to special places with amazing views and petroglyphs. The lessons taught in the classroom come to life in this colorful and diverse landscape. This in-depth look at conservation, biology, geology, history, and astronomy is a memorable experience for both students and teachers.