Wabash Blogs Freshman Tutorial: Fly Fishing in Montana -

August 24, 2009

Trip Spurred Great Student Memories for Brooks

Professor of Biology Emeritus Austin Brooks - The “Fly Fishing, THE Liberal Art” freshman tutorial pre-course immersion trip has been a truly wonderful experience for the students and for this retired biology professor. 

This excursion with my friend, former colleague and frequent fishing partner, Professor David Hadley, and his 12 freshmen, has clearly identified what I miss most about teaching — the students. The energy, enthusiasm and curiosity that these young men exude are contagious. I have had the pleasure of fly fishing great rivers, partnering with former departmental colleague Dave Krohne to show the students the unique features of Yellowstone National Park, feeling the exhilaration of white water rafting and savoring the natural beauty of Montana in the company of twelve great young men who are fast becoming true Little Giants. 

Thanks guys for helping me to remember the joys of teaching.  

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August 21, 2009

Hadley Has No Doubts Fly Fishing is THE Liberal Art

Professor David Hadley - I have taken considerable ribbing from colleagues and friends about this class I am teaching this semester—Fly Fishing: THE Liberal Art. With an immersion trip to Montana to boot! Chuckle, chuckle. Two days of fly fishing. A tour of Yellowstone Park. All topped off with a white water rafting trip down the Yellowstone River. “And we pay you for that?” asked one. You call this education, a few probably wondered.

Yes, on both counts. That became clear today as we rafted down the Yellowstone.
I think education, especially liberal arts education, opens us to seeing the world in new and different ways. As we moved down the river today and I listened to the conversations among these twelve young men, I knew that their education had begun. They already were seeing their world, or an important part of it, differently.
Something they had seen many times before --water in a river--had become something more. They looked at the water for the places where fish would hold waiting for their next meal. They recognized seams in the water’s flow where faster moving current would dump insects into slowly moving, energy conserving eddies for fish to feast upon. As we passed through clouds of insects, some saw a “hatch.” These were not just bugs swarming around in the air, but insects emerging from their larval stage spent under water. They knew the water at the bottom of the river was teaming with creepy, crawly life that sustained the fish and gave them their beautiful rainbows, the brilliant orange swooshes that marked the cutthroats, and the distinctive spots identifying the healthy brown trout. When they passed huge irrigation systems spraying water drawn from the river onto fields in full-sun, 90-degree heat, they saw water wasted that could be used for the same purpose, but more efficiently and helping to preserve and conserve the water for other uses, including sport and recreation.    
As we drew near the end of the raft trip, I knew these young men’s liberal education had begun. Snippets of their conversations, interspersed with the banter and silliness that has been increasing throughout the week, convinced me that they would seldom drive across a bridge or along a stream and see it as just another creek or river. They will see or wonder about its health, its fishability, where it goes and how it gets there, what impedes it, for what and how well is it used. This is education.
And, yes, I do get paid for it. Not more money, but the reward of eyes opened to seeing the world in new and different ways. Is that enough reward for beginning my 41st year at Wabash a week early?
Yep, I guess it must be.  It was reward enough to make me, just days shy of a birthday I would just a soon not celebrate,  join the class in climbing onto the railing of a bridge 20 feet above the Yellowstone River and jumping with them into the cold waters below. It seemed a most fitting way to end this immersion trip. What a way for us all to jump into their Wabash education—with a leap into the swirling opal waters of the Yellowstone River. It was exciting, exhilarating, and more than a little scary. But we took the plunge together.

In photos: Top right, Hadley talking with Brian Grossenbacher '90 while the students got their fishing license. Lower left, the members of the freshman Fly Fishing Tutorial with Aus Brooks on the left and Hadley standing far right.

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Perkins '89: Experience Adds to Connection to Wabash

Jeff Perkins '89 - This week I’ve had the opportunity to convene with nature, twelve members of the class of 2013, three knowledgeable faculty and two other Wabash Alums who have made the beautiful state of Montana their home.

It’s hard for me to believe that 24 years ago I too was a freshman beginning my lifetime journey with the College, having then more questions than answers:

What will the future hold for me at Wabash?
What are the right choices for me at the college and beyond?
What exactly is a liberal arts education and where will it lead me in life?

Our time with these twelve men produced similar questions and dialogue as we began to find answers in the common experience of fly-fishing.
Wabash has a way of fostering indebtedness to her students, faculty and alums.
This week – being no exception - has taken me back to a time when I entered Wabash through the eyes of these students who are in Professor David Hadley’s Freshman Tutorial: Fly Fishing – The Liberal Art. Prior to the trip we all read Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It as a basis for our experience in Montana and Wyoming, which sometimes served as a common dialogue on the water and in our travels. I will not recount the week day by day as the students have done a wonderful job of this in their blogs.
I suppose days filled with fresh air on the river, in Yellowstone National Park and riding horseback through Montana make one reflect and become more introspective. Byron Trippett, a Wabash legend, who graduated class of 1930 and went on to be President of the College, reminded us that:
“Once on this familiar campus and once in these well-known halls, students and teachers as real as ourselves worked and studied, argued and laughed and worshiped together, but are now gone, one generation vanishing after another, as surely as we shall shortly be gone. But if you listen, you can hear their songs and their cheers. As you look, you can see the torch which they handed down to us."
I listened for these songs and cheers not in the halls at Wabash but on the rivers and trails of Montana. I am humbled to have had the opportunity to fly fish with part of the future of Wabash College: members of the class of 2013 and a few faculty and alums.  I am reminded of the value of a liberal arts education through my experiences this week and what it has offered me over the years.
Norman Maclean wrote, “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” Wabash is like a familiar place on a river one can return to now and then. They say you can never step in the same river twice.
I return home rejuvenated and thankful for my association with the college and all she offers those of us who are associated with her.
And as for all those questions and conversations about fly fishing, the liberal art, I turn to Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It when he asks, “How can a question be answered that asks a lifetime of questions?” Gentlemen, enjoy the journey of a lifetime, your Wabash education and experience.
And as for me, the river and Wabash have again helped to update the answers to those questions. Wabash only gets better as the years pass. Experiences like this week add to that connection to the past and vision for the future.
Today these newfound fly fishermen are on the way back to Indiana to meet their full class and begin the lifetime journey we know as Wabash College.  As I part with these twelve freshmen classmates at Bozeman Airport this afternoon, I wish a richness of experiences, friendships and learning to the entire class as President White officially rings you in as the class of 2013.
There’s a familiarity to the place, but what is new each time is each of you. Your time at Wabash is short, as is our time in the world. Thousands of men have passed through Wabash since I was there. We flow through that very unique liberal arts institution, a river of humanity, of learning, and of community.
On behalf of those who preceded you, welcome to Wabash College.

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Grossenbacher Helped Teach Important Lesson

Brian Grossenbacher '90 - August 17 rolled around and after a couple years of planning I was driving to the fly shop to meet a small group of Wabash students for the start of their freshman tutorial. I felt good, I felt strong. As I checked their fishing licenses to make sure that everyone was legal I suddenly felt sick. Not the kind of sick that can make you miss a day of work, but the kind of sick that kicks you in the stomach ... the kind of sick that makes you want to buy a Corvette or a hairpiece or a gym membership.

These kids were born in 1990 - the same year that I graduated from Wabash. Impossible! As I stumbled to my truck, I resented them for their youth - and like Joseph Conrad, I cursed them for it. It seemed like yesterday that I was reporting to football camp, pledging Beta ... how is it that almost 20 years have slipped by?  

I remembered the confidence that I brought to campus. The cocky swagger that was knocked into submission by homecoming week.  
Suddenly, I could taste the lack of sleep, my miniscule grade point average at mid term, final term. Just as I was brought down to earth by my first semester at Wabash, the trout had something in mind for these incoming plebes. On the water, we were all reminded that according to Teddy Roosevelt that, "All men are equal before trout." I watched one frosh miss over 30 fish. On the hook set, he was either too fast, too slow or sometimes non responsive. Regardless, he never quit, and more importantly his attitude never changed. As a true Wabash man he committed himself to making himself better, he sought advice to achieve his goals, and he committed himself to achieving them. At the end of the day he had a smile on his face, and a trout to his name.
Of all of the students that filled this course each showed themselves as gentlemen, and more importantly scholars that will hopefully go through life with a fly rod in their hands and special thanks to the Wabash Community.

In photo: Grossenbacher with Professor Hadley. The Grossenbacher family hosted the Tutorial group for a dinner the night of their arrival.

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Great Reflections From Hadley, Alums Yet to Come

EDITOR'S NOTE: Reading these blogs and seeing the great photos from Montana has been an amazing experience for all of us back in Indiana

Readers will find three new student postings from Thursday's activities below. All three young men described the day-ending experience of jumping off a bridge into the Yellowstone River.

It's fun to note they were all quite excited that Professors David Hadley and David Krohne joined with them for the experience-ending leap!

At right is a sequence of photos taken by Jeff Perkins '89, who made a generous contribution making this trip possible. He and Professor David Hadley have taken the photos in these blogs.

This trip was full of alumni participation. When the young men arrived for their rafting trip with Flying Pig, run by Geoff Faerber '98, they learned one of their guides would be Nick Roudebush '08. (in photo at left.)

Tomorrow look for reflections from Brian Grossenbacher, Perkins, and a great summary from Professor Hadley.


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Lopp Details a Day of Great Fun with Classmates

Mack Lopp '13 - Today the whole fly fishing class went on an expedition with Flying Pig Adventures. The swift, untamed Yellowstone River created a perfect place to go white water rafting along with a family from Illinois.

As we floated down the river, we passed the majestic YellowstoneNational Park, a mountain slope looking identical to a strip of bacon, floated over two sunken train cars full of whiskey, passed through Yankee Jim's Canyon without being held up by him and his friendly shot-gun, and many others unnamed. While on the river we smashed through massive waves, rammed into gigantic boulders, and "road the bull." It was where two people put their cowboy hats on, saddled up, and strapped onto the front of the raft. These two led the group into the rapids challenging everything the raging river could throw at us.
Unfortunately, Jason was the first of many to get bucked off into the river not lasting the eight seconds a TRUE bull rider is required. Water wars were constantly fought throughout the day. Patrick tried to take my raft out quickly by attacking our guide and successfully pulled him into the river leaving us without a captain. Thankfully Aus was there to take the reigns and guide us all to safety.
After weathering the storm, we recovered and struck back by dragging Jeff into the frigid waters. Blood and tears were shed during battle but eventually a treaty was made between the two Wabashrafts to join sides and make a barge out of them. From there, everyone swam doing dives, flips, and unfortunately some nasty flops that added to the pain of sunburn into the icy waters leaving us shivering until the sun eventually warmed us up.
With fly fishing in mind from the experiences earlier in the week; everyone, especially Steven, kept saying, "Ooh, that would be a nice fishing spot, what about that one or maybe this one." He and Professor Hadley would follow that up by wishing for a rod in hand. These memories were fun and all, but the best memory was yet to be experienced.
The whole Wabash class including all the professors and Curtis form Illinoisdecided to jump off of a twenty foot bridge. We all lined up, counted to three, and fell to the Yellowstonecreating an enormous splash. It was amazing and yes, we do have pictures to show for it thanks to Jeff. He decided it was more important for us to have pictures to remember the jump instead of him joining us- Thanks for always looking out for us Jeff!
Later that afternoon, the class loaded into the vans and headed for the ranch to do some old fashioned transportation, horse-back riding. I was driving the one and only Banjo through the rocky hills of Montana. He minded well for the most part, but Stevens’s horse, Brown Jug, was a trouble maker kicking Jim's horse right in the side. We then had an excellent dinner and returned to the hotel to rest up for the long day of traveling that is ahead of us.

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Borden Talks of Bonding With Classmates

Nathaniel Borden '13 - Some people go to foreign countries for an immersion trip but not our class. Our class went to Montana which in a way is a new country to us, because none of my fellow classmates have ever been here. We were introduced to mountains, canyons, rivers, and many other geological features that many of us have never seen before.

Thursday  we headed to Flying Pig Adventures in search for some major rapids, and I think we got what we asked for! Our class broke into two different rafts once we started. Our guide told us that we were pretty lucky; because the water was suppose to be pretty warm. We went over safety instructions and then got at it, but the so-called warm water wasn’t exactly warm by any means. The water was around 60 degrees, and none of us were expecting the cold chills we were about to get. The river started off fairly easy, but then got rough.

We clashed with speed into the waves and water spewed all over us sending shock to everyone. No one was anticipating the rush of the water that was over flowing our boat, but we kept paddling. We went on down the river swimming when possible and having raft wars while our guide was explaining some of the history of the land we were passing. Toward the end of the ride we were given the choice of jumping off of one of the bridges that over looked the water and of course all the students had to do it, but the professors decided to join us which was really cool too and a blast to witness!

After an exhausting rafting trip we changed from our drenched clothes into some nice dry warm ones, and then we headed to the ranch. We got there and then saddled up on some horses which was a sight to watch. After getting our horses and instructions we headed out on the trail which had some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. We finished the horse riding up with a furnished meal by the ranch which was amazing.

It’s hard to believe that I have done so much in such little time here in Montana, but not only have I learned a lot about the state, I have made several good friends in just the beginning of my college career.

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