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Prairieview dives deep into photography

RESIDENT DESCRIBES THE FEELING OF BEING UNDERWATER

The girls in the Northwest Passage Prairieview program have officially taken In a New Light (IaNL) off the deep end. This week, seven of the residents were able to embark on a whole new photography adventure and explore life under water. With the scuba and ecology expertise of our friends, Toben Lafrancois and Ian Karl, along with the assistance of two IaNL interns, Megan and Alex, these lucky ladies were able to capture a different world through the lens of a camera.

To say the day didn’t have its bumps would be a lie; when we got to the field it was rainy and cold, and several of the girls struggled to find equipment that would fit.  However; with the use of distress tolerance and radical acceptance, along with other DBT skills the girls have been working on mastering, attitudes quickly changed once in the water. No longer was the rain bothersome or the wetsuits too tight; the tension had been lifted. Not a word was spoken; nor was it needed as the girls floated on the surface of the lake allowing themselves to be consumed by the therapy of the water. My experience as a staff member is far less significant than that of the residents.

Kelly Vogen, Fitness Counselor

Libby, 16, – Prairieview Resident reflects on this first time experience:
“When you have a camera in your hands and curiosity in your heart, everything else suddenly becomes insignificant. It’s just you, the camera, and the world. Fear and anxiety are replaced by curiosity and excitement – you will stop at nothing to get that one shot you want, and your struggles take a backseat as the entirely new world you discover through your lens consumes you.

When you look under the surface for the first time and you see the aquatic menagerie of animals that scurry about just beneath the surface and the plants that sway peacefully in the current, it makes you stop and wonder what else you’ve been missing all this time. You’re no longer worried about what others will think of you, or about an upcoming test that has you stressed, or even financial issues – your ears are tuned into the tranquility of the underwater nothingness, and the sounds of people shouting over one another for no reason or of cars going nowhere fast have been left in an entirely different world.

Before IaNL, anxiety had been gnawing at my insides for years, until there was no peacefulness left. Everything put me on edge, and I had no escape. I was constantly angry for all the sickness I had been plagued with, for all the death I had dealt with, and anything else I could find a reason to be angry with. Through photography, I have been able to discover an inner-calm that I never knew before, and I have been able to focus my energy on capturing the beauty that the world has to offer for those who are willing to see it, instead of focusing on every single way that life has been unfair to me.

Underwater photography is especially meditative, because all you have to do is float and appreciate what surrounds you.”

 

Stop into the Gallery today and see last year’s New Light Under the Surface photography exhibit.

Northwest Passage is dedicated to teaching kids how to live a therapeutic lifestyle. The eight therapeutic lifestyle choices include: nature, recreation, relaxation, nutrition, exercise, relationships, service, and spirit. The New Light Under the Surface programming incorporates many of these choices. It gets the kids in nature. It gives them something recreational to do that they enjoy. It is relaxing for many. It moves their bodies for exercise. It builds relationships through the buddy system. It gives them time to reflect on what matters (spirit).

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Under the Surface is BACK

THE KIDS ARE BACK IN THE WATER

Thanks to the support of our 2015 Kickstarter campaign; an amazing $50,000 grant from Sea Grant, the aquatic world’s research arm; and the continued investments of the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center – New Light Under the Surface is back and stronger than ever. In addition to another season of exploration of the mystery of the great below, we will be partnering with the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center to investigate the Dry Tortugas at the end of the season.

New Light Under the Surface has made quite the splash in the water world – famed ocean scientist and New York Times bestselling author, Wallace Nichols, invited Northwest Passage to speak at the sixth annual Blue Mind conference in California where water innovators from around the country gather to celebrate the power of our most precious substance on earth. Ben and Toben traveled to the conference with the special guest – John, a past client in love with the under water world. Fellow Blue Mind Six conference attendee, Sea Change Design founder Lauralee Alben, profiled us in a recent article What’s at Risk?. Our project partner, Toben LaFrancois,wrote a fantastic piece Diary of an Aquatic Scientist that sums up just why we do what we do.

Thank you to everyone who has supported New Light Under the Surface – now come check out the fruits of the kids’ labor at our latest exhibit: New Light Under the Surface at Northwest Passage’s Gallery, just one mile south of Webster, WI on Highway 35.

WE’D LOVE TO SHOW OFF OUR NEWEST EXHIBIT TO YOU! Visit the Gallery today!

Northwest Passage is dedicated to the recreational care of our kids. After the first year of New Light Under the Surface, we discovered that many of the kids who had the chance to dive into the water to do underwater photography, found an activity that they enjoyed. We strive to find recreational activities that the kids love and will continue to do after they graduate from our programs.

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Starting at dawn, whole day spent with Andrew Walsh

UNEXPECTED SURPRISES THROUGHOUT

Day 4 of Artist in Residence with Andrew Walsh began at 4:45 a.m. at the front door of Northwest Passage Prairieview. Our small group of early risers traveled a mile or so down the trail from Prairieview to the Trade River to photograph the sunrise. There was frost on the grass and leaves, and a chill in the air, but as the sun rose it brought with it some subtle warmth which was just enough for the trees and meadow to come alive. Countless songbirds were all around us as the mist came off the water. A flock of Canadian geese flew overhead and a bald eagle perched in an Elm Tree less than fifty yards from us. It was truly a magical morning, and one not soon to be forgotten.

 

As the day went on (and after we had some breakfast) the rest of the Prairieview photographers joined us and we ventured out to Straight Lake State Park where the wildlife we saw and heard was seemingly endless, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians were all reveling in the warm spring day- and we were ready with our cameras in hand.

 

We parted ways with Prairieview just before lunch and the afternoon brought us to Crex Meadows where we met up with Lakeshore and Riverside photographers. Riverside counselor, Justin Stariha, connected our group with the crew of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources firefighters who were beginning a prescribed burn of a portion of storm damaged forest. After they established safe boundaries for us and shared a little about wildfire ecology with our students we had a chance to photograph the ecology in action.

 

 

The day wrapped up with a lesson on aperture and depth of field from Andrew. Then we quickly realized that the day had gone by all too quickly and we were sad to see it end.

 

 

Many thanks to Andrew Walsh for volunteering his time and sharing his passion and expertise with our kids on this ‘day in the life of a professional photographer.’

Ian Karl, Experiential Programming Coordinator

Come to the artist reception tonight from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Gallery (1 mile south of Webster on Hwy 35) to hear the experiences right from the kids. See the photos the kids took during the week and see Andrew and his work. Join us in celebrating this week!

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InaNewFlight looks to experts on BirdWalk

GIRLS LEARN ABOUT 43 DIFFERENT BIRD SPECIES

Four dedicated, novice birders from the Prairieview program woke up before sunrise and geared up for their first “bird walk” at Wisconsin Interstate Park. The bird walk was led by the Polk County’s most sought after “bird man,” Brian Collins. Brian teaches at Unity High School located in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin and spends his summers working all over the state conducting bird surveys.

The girls were welcomed with enthusiasm to the bird walk, which was attended by a diverse group of local people all wanting to spend their Saturday morning the same way (on the trail counting birds)! Geared up with binoculars, pencils and bird count pamphlets, we set out on our morning adventure. The first exciting species noted was the Great Blue Heron which included views of their nest, hatchlings and the adults carrying building material up to the nest. Next up was the great Bald Eagle who dipped down into the marsh to gather nesting materials before heading back to its nest, giving us an extended amount of time to view the raptor in action. The morning continued to get better as the expert birders were hearing several species of birds at the same time, calling them out and the girls worked hard to find the different spotted birds with their binoculars. All in all, we either saw or heard 43 different species. At the very end of the hike, a special treat was in store as the parks education ranger, Julie Fox, pointed out a small hole in a bare tree near the trail. Much to our surprise, the hole was indeed the home to a pair of Ruby Breasted Nuthatches. We were mesmerized for several minutes, watching the pair trade places and do some cleaning of their house by ousting sawdust with their beaks. We had a fantastic morning and it was so fun being on the trail with experts on the topic. If the girls spotted a bird, there was someone right next to them willing to help identify the bird and share their knowledge.

With cold fingers and a new appreciation for early Saturday mornings, we enjoyed a hot chocolate and fresh cake donut from the local bakery before heading back to Northwest Passage. Our conversation on the way home was full of contagious enthusiasm for the morning experience and each girl talked about their favorite bird of the day.

Brittany Bosak, Prairieview Teacher

Here at Northwest Passage, we enjoy watching our kids learn. Our teachers work hard to come up with lesson plans to get them out of the classroom and exploring the local area to learn about wildlife. InaNewFlight is a bird unit dedicated to teaching our youth about the many different species of birds and their hardworking lifestyles.

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Prairieview bird unit is InaNewFlight

STUDENTS MEET CHALLENGES OF WATERFOWL INSTRUCTION

Divers, Dabblers, Geese and Swans all encompass the latest segment of Prairieview School’s bird unit, otherwise known as, #quackquack.  The girls have spent several weeks engrossed in the biology and ecology of all types of birds. The past two weeks have focused on waterfowl, which naturally resulted in an educational field trip to Crex Meadows, located in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

Crex Meadows is a unique area that we are fortunate enough to have in (almost) our backyard. The wildlife area is 30,000 acres, making it one of the largest state owned wildlife areas in Wisconsin. Crex Meadows provides us with a place for our kids to explore the outdoors and view Wisconsin wildlife up close.

This week, Prairieview students were instructed on waterfowl and challenged by Crex Meadow’s Wisconsin Conservation Educator, Kristi Pupak. Throughout their morning program, the girls worked to build a duck blind, identify various ducks using a field guide and mounted specimens, and played an active game simulating duck migration and habitats! They turned out to be fantastic duck identifiers and worked hard throughout the morning to put their waterfowl skills to the test.

After a morning of waterfowl education, we ate our packed lunches at Crex Meadows and spent the afternoon taking photos for InaNewLight. The kids strived to photograph and identify the species which they focused on earlier in the day. They have enjoyed the challenge of putting their classroom knowledge to use in the field with their cameras.

Brittany Bosak, Prairieview Teacher

Northwest Passage is dedicated to the academic care of our kids. Our teachers take them on field trips to places like Crex Meadows where they have hands-on experiences for a memorable learning experience. We are mindful of the fact that everyone learns differently and the more opportunities we can give, the more likely that they will comprehend the teachings and walk away with new knowledge.

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Thinking outside of the box, with boxes… and MORE!

CLASSROOM FUN SPARKS LOVE FOR LEARNING AT PASSAGE

As you know, our experiential education programming has allowed InaNewLight to soar to great heights and allows learners of all types to reclaim a love for the classroom. Now take a moment to see our educators, and kids, in action as they strive to provide a classroom experience to fit all of our kids’ needs; to ignite a passion for learning.

By combining service, nature, and project-based learning we are curating classroom experiences where our kids are excelling at learning, sometimes for the first time. If you’d like to learn about what we’ve been up to, here are just a few stories to get you started.

We are proud of the education the kids at Passage receive during a very difficult time in their lives. The kids that come to us are dealing with mental health and emotional challenges, but they’re also struggling with the realities of living away from home, meeting new people, making friends, and learning many new life skills. One thing we can do to help ease the kids into their home-away-from-home is to provide an adaptive education that looks and feel like a normal classroom. We still have science fairs, papers due, and those desks connected to their chair, but we also inject project based learning that can open up the classroom to learners of all levels.

Our educational curriculum is guided not only by state and core standards, but by the principals of living the PassageWay – learning to live a Therapeutic Lifestyle. This means that many of the elements to living a therapeutic lifestyle are incorporated into the classroom, resulting in a more dynamic approach to teaching. From service to time spent in nature, our kids have a robust learning experience that we’re proud to say is fully accredited and truly serves as a building block to success in life.

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Northwest Passage Riverside Captures Gitchi Gumee In a New Light

THE YOUNG MEN OF RIVERSIDE HIT THE SHORES OF LAKE SUPERIOR

Experiential learning on the shores of Lake Superior connects boys to nature, history, and even themselves.

Gitchi Gumee, otherwise known as Lake Superior, lies just over an hour’s drive up the road from Northwest Passage Riverside – practically in our own backyard! Over the course of the next year, the young men at Riverside will turn their camera lenses and desire for adventure to “the Big Lake” while they learn about culture, history, and the environment. They will explore the tributaries, shorelines, lighthouses and beaches while they capture the many faces of the lake and discover the healing power of Gitchi Gumee.

So why are we so excited about spending time at the shores of Gitchi Gumee? Well, for anyone who’s ever been there, it is obvious. But just to be clear let’s talk a little more about her. She is the biggest body of freshwater on earth. Three quadrillion gallons of it sloshing around in a sand and stone basin that was formed by volcanic activity over a billion years ago. From east to west the Lake is just over 350 miles long. From north to south, 160 miles. One could more easily travel from Miami to Seattle than trace each foot of shoreline* along the Lake. The water is home to 78 species of fish, countless invertebrates, mammals and birds. It is so clear that  along most of its coast you can see down deep, to the sandy bottom. However, it’s much deeper than you can see – over 1300 feet at its greatest depth east of the Keweenaw Peninsula. If Lake Superior were drained it would cover the entirety of North America in about a foot and a half of water.

Gitchi Gumee is far more than facts and figures and math and measurements, though. She is calm waves on endless beaches. She is distant horizons with hopeful sunrises and reflective sunsets. She is ice-heaved shorelines in the middle of January and ten foot tall crashing waves on rocky cliffs in October. She is the tributaries and coastal wetlands of her watershed. She is an inland sea with many faces and countless moods.

Please follow our adventures and get to know Gitchi Gumee a little better… and along the way, our special young men.

*If you paddle your kayak fast and you can take some shortcuts, you can make it around in about two months…trust me.

Ian Karl – Experiential Programming Coordinator for Northwest Passage

 

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Snow, Ice, and Fishing

LEARNING FROM WISCONSIN SPORTING TRADITIONS

Nothing says winter like spending a day on the ice attempting to catch some fish! The Assessment’s Cedar Unit ventured to Big Butternut Lake in Luck to try their hand at ice fishing and bring home the big fish. The students first learned, in the classroom setting, about safety on the ice and the different variety of fish that lived in the lake. They created posters and other projects about the fish they chose to research.

No trip would be complete without learning about how to use the equipment – because let’s admit it – tangled fishing line is just no fun. The kids learned how to hook minnows and be patient (especially when the fish were not biting), as well as set up a tip-up. While waiting for the fish to bite we had a variety of different activities set up for the kids to stay active and engaged. These included building snow sculptures, sliding contests, and ice bowling.

Students also took advantage of the weather and brought cameras to explore a different side of winter – on the ice. Learning about how light affects photography on the ice was a key teaching point. Molly, our expressive arts teacher, worked with several students to identify the most effective angles and how to manipulate light to get the shot they wanted.

Hannah Curran – Assessment, Cedar Unit Teacher

Northwest Passage is committed to the recreational care of our kids. Our teachers and staff get the kids outside trying new recreational activities in order to help the kids find things that they may have not known that they would enjoy. This not only gives them something to look forward to during their stay at Northwest Passage but also teaches them something that they can do for fun when they leave.

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Meet the horse therapy staff

Adios

Adios is a 20-year-old pony born in Minnesota; he was originally the herd stallion and has many good natured sons and daughters. He was then acquired by Northwest Passage’s own Nancy Jensen, a former employee of many years. He was the companion of her grandchildren until they grew bigger than he did! This is his first year as an EAGALA pony.

Angel

Angel is a 19-year-old Appaloosa horse; has held many jobs in her life. She was a trail horse, a show horse, and a lesson horse. An injury slowed down her riding career, but has not stopped her from playing with the kids of Northwest Passage as an EAGALA horse. She has been working on and off with Northwest Passage for the last 4 years.

Cinnamon (a.k.a. CIndy)

Cinnamon/Cindy is a 14-year-old standard size donkey who comes to us from a training ranch. Her job used to be helping horse trainers start out young horses. After some personal hardship her owner reached out for a home for her and Northwest Passage happily gave her a new career as an EAGALA donkey. This is Cindy’s second year.

Tully

Tully is a 15-year-old horse who hails from Hannibal, WI. He was supposed to be born a spotted horse…but surprised his owners by coming out a beautiful solid buckskin color. He rode the trails with his owners until he became a lesson horse where he taught many young riders the virtue of patience! He has worked as a Northwest Passage EAGALA horse for the last 3 years.

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Prairieview goes orienteering at Crex Meadows

The ladies of Prairieview recently participated in an orienteering lesson at Crex Meadows. The girls first got an introduction to Crex Meadows and then spent time in the classroom learning about the parts of a compass and how to use one of these age old tools for adventure.

The ladies did some calculating in order to figure out their pace and were eventually put to the test out in the woods. Working in teams, the girls were given different courses to complete. These courses required them to find their “bearing” and calculate their pace so that they could locate the next clue.

Upon completing each course, they had to read and fill out a worksheet on various native Wisconsin animals found at Crex Meadows. The girls did a fantastic job, with one team finishing the most difficult course! The morning was filled with adventure, fun and learning all while in the outdoors.

Brittany Bosak, Prairieview Teacher


Northwest Passage values teaching residents outside of just the traditional classroom. Getting them outside helps to make the learning concepts real and relevant to the world. It allows them to learn through play and experimentation. It exposes them to new opportunities and helps develop their interest in the environment and other surroundings.

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