Missouri River Corps of Rediscovery
I typically plan one big canoe trip adventure each year to explore an intriguing river I've not yet paddled, mostly within Montana. Rather than paddle alone, I prefer to invite a small tribe of friends, family, past and present students from Green University® LLC, and sometimes complete strangers, to see who joins me for the adventure. We enjoy each other's company, build new or deeper friendships, and share wilderness skills, ideas, philosophy, and music. I've led many one- or two-week canoe trips this way, but admittedly never for a six-month canoe trip.
For the Missouri River Expedition, I floated the invitation to the Universe to see who would join me for the adventure, especially seeking, "individuals from the primitive skills / nature awareness community who have knowledge and experience to share with the tribe, such as tracking, bird language, fishing, hunting, and crafting skills."
Many people said they would love to join the expedition. Few were actually willing to commit the time and intention to make it happen. Our final crew for the duration consists of myself and five talented companions, each with unique skillsets to contribute to the experience. Other individuals will catch up along the way for shorter time periods, bringing a fresh new dynamic and new skills and ideas. Read more about each member of the permanent party below:
Thomas J. Elpel - Expedition Leader
Tom Elpel is the author of Participating in Nature, Botany in a Day, and numerous other books on nature, wilderness survival, and sustainable living. He is the founder of Green University®, LLC, providing wilderness skills classes for adults, as well as Outdoor Wilderness Living School, LLC (OWLS)
through which he provides immersive nature connection experiences for public school kids. Tom is president of the Jefferson River Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and founder of the Jefferson River Canoe Trail.
The Missouri River Expedition is the coalescence of several separate dreams. As an empty-nester, Tom was ready for a big adventure, either hiking, biking, or paddling in 2019. He has been working through a bucket list item to paddle every Class I river in Montana, which includes the Missouri River, and once started, why not do the whole thing? Moreover, Tom has wanted to carve a dugout canoe for decades, a dream that came to light in 2018 when he partnered with Churchill Clark, direct descendant of William Clark, to handcraft Belladonna Beaver, the dugout canoe. All these factors dovetail with Tom's work on the Jefferson River Canoe Trail and his desire to explore, document, and preserve the natural wonders of the land for future generations.
Adam Sowder - Filmmaker
Adam Sowder grew up in suburban Roanoke, Virginia. He has been a landscaper and artist since childhood, spending weekends as a kid with his grandfather in the garden, donating most of the food to fellow churchgoers. He earned a degree in Urban Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University, graduating in 2009 with a focus on community food issues and public policy.
Since 2011 Adam has worked as a videographer, working on everything from feature films to reality television and commercials. Adam was planning a solo kayak trip around Florida's Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail before he learned of the Missouri River Expedition. With only knowledge gleaned from books, he applied to Green University®, LLC to gain experience foraging and practicing outdoor skills, just in time to learn of the Missouri trip. Adam is filming the adventure with the intent to produce a documentary mini-series.
Chris Dawkins - Bird Language and Tracking
Chris Dawkins grew up hiking and canoeing in the Olympic Mountains of Washington. He traveled the world on planes, trains, automobiles, often hitch-hiking to points in between throughout the Middle East and Europe, plus living extensively in southeast Asia. He enrolled for two years at Wilderness Awareness School and took every class they had. He hiked the 800-mile Arizona Trail, walked the West coast from San Francisco to Portland, and circulated through numerous primitive skills gatherings and classes. He joined the semester-long Immersion Program at Green University® LLC in the fall of 2018. He brings a love of bird language, tracking, games, and music to the expedition.
John Gentry - Wilderness First Responder
John Gentry was raised in the mountains of East Tennessee in a rural Appalachian community where he found love for the outdoors from an early age. He helped his father raise tobacco and subsistence crops and learned about fishing, hunting, and ecology as a young'un. He spent time in the Marine Corps as an infantryman, and soon after hiked the entirety of the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail. Along the way experienced life-changing epiphanies and path-altering paradigm shifts that led me to his current work in wilderness therapy with at-risk adolescents and young adults.
John dived deep into primitive skills, herbal medicine, tracking, hunting, nature awareness, outdoor living, psychology, mythology, self-improvement, and more. He completed Sigma 3 Survival School's 45-day Level 1 Instructor Program and Level 2 Jungle/Coastal program as well as Boulder Outdoor Survival School's 28-day flagship course. He has also completed The Human Path's Herbalism For Professionals course as well as several other classes or apprenticeships, plus he attended the Deer Processing Intensive at Green University LLC. He brings his extensive survival skills experience and wilderness first responder background to the expedition.
Scott Robinson - GPS Navigator
Scott Robinson was raised in the small town of Circleville, Ohio, near Chillicothe, where Tecumseh was born. He was inspired by Alan Eckert's book The Frontiersman about Ohio frontier history. Craving outdoor skills knowledge, he was fortunate to connect with the Schoby family who brought him hunting, and fishing, and ignited his imagination with outdoor stories. Scott later did a tour with the Marine Corps, which allowed him to travel much of the world and see most of the U.S. He earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and raised a family in Colorado.
Scott found the magic five years ago when he met Margie and she awoke his latent dreams of adventure. Together they have backpacked canyons in Utah and paddled a segment of the Green River. Scott then joined Doug Hill's yearlong apprenticeship program for an introduction to primitive skills. Scott joins the Missouri Expedition as the tech guy, bringing GPS equipment and the ability to post our nightly campsites along the way.
Josiah Fischer - Banjo Man
Josiah Fischer was born in Australia and relocated to the U.S. at an early age. His family moved frequently, yet remained in the countryside or nearby, and Josiah discovered his love for the outdoors playing in the woods. Rather than pursuing formal education, Josiah learned through the school of hard knocks. He acquired extensive practical knowledge in everything from general construction to living in the woods, with a particular emphasis on growing food and foraging. He participated in the Deer Processing Intensive at Green University® LLC to get hands-on experience skinning, butchering, and preserving meat and tanning hides. Josiah joins the expedition as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse in wilderness skills and learn to connect with the land at a deeper level. He plays the banjo and plans to bring music to the expedition and potentially do some busking in towns along the way.
Please pledge your support now!
Missouri River Corps of Rediscovery
Lewis and Clark on the Jefferson River
Jefferson River Canoe Trail