We're celebrating our passionate service learning students

Fall 2018 semester, IRU was fortunate to work with Boise State University’s Service Learning Program. We coordinated with Professor Mari Rice’s Environmental Studies class to recruit passionate students to join IRU for a semester. Over the course of the semester, students researched conservation policy, assisted in our education program, and created helpful communication tools we plan to implement over the next several months. These eight students surpassed our expectations.

All of the students ended their productive semester with reflections on their experiences with rivers and just what they love about Idaho’s rivers. Please enjoy the following content written by our service-learning members.

“I have lived in Idaho my whole life. When people from across the nation ask me where I am from, I say Idaho proudly. The automatic assumption is that we are all about potatoes. Little did they know the true beauty of Idaho. The rivers that flow through the green state are breath-taking and boast mesmerizing views. I love Idaho and I love its rivers. The only thing the rivers asks for are appreciation and protection.”

-Karla Magana, Communication Intern

“This semester has taught me that the fish in the river are as important as the rivers themselves.

Idaho salmon are in in danger, and before this semester I knew next to nothing about why they are becoming endangered. 

Some people may ask, “Molly, you are a psychology major. Why do you care to spend time learning about endangered fish, when you could be learning about human populations in danger due to mental illness and drugs?”

My answer is that there is time to learn about all of these things. I have worked on many a psychology project and life does need a bit of balance. I have been an activate outdoor enthusiast enjoying rivers all my life. I believe that spending time learning about the planet that I live on, and love to explore, is never a bad idea.”

- Molly Meyer Conservation Policy Intern 

The Henry’s Fork

Blake Hunter, Conservation Policy Intern

Foggy Henrys Fork @Ava Isaacson.JPG

“Throw a rock in Henry’s Fork this weekend and say a prayer for me, I think our dads are probably there fishing together.”

I’ve fabricated memories of my grandfather from what other people have told me. He had owned a fly-tying business and raised my mother on the rocky and muddy banks of Idaho’s rivers. But I have no recollection of him fishing, in his store, or of seeing him at all. The closest thing to a memory have that I know to be organic is watching my mother cry when he died; I didn’t understand why I couldn’t comfort her. I was too young. My mom’s uncle, Kenny, had raised his daughter Serie the same way my mom had been raised. He had been a fly fisherman too, and a firefighter before that.

Last week, Kenny passed away after a long fight with cancer. I didn’t know him well, but Serie and my mom have been close since childhood. In a time of loss and grief, she grasped a thread that has kept our family together, and sent the following to my mom.

“Throw a rock in Henry’s Fork this weekend and say a prayer for me. I think our dads are probably there fishing together.”

Blood Flows Like a River

Karla Magana

The blood flows in my body as I breathe.

It continues as I study as I learn as I stress and as I yearn.

The books and texts I read leave my brain feeling full and with a stinging burn I want success and to make change.

At the end of the day, when my studies have left, I feel alone, that is when I look toward my friendships that have pushed me and seen me grow.

I am not alone. I have people that advocate for me to be safe.

But like the blood continues to flow in my body, the rivers flow too.

At the end of the day, they feel alone.

What will you do to protect and save them from the stress and struggles they yearn?

Hells Canyon down the canyon portrait @Ava Isaacson.jpg

Why I Love a River

Abby Benson, Communications Intern


“The river is a part of home.”

The sun glares across the car windows as black road speeds beneath. The sight gets closer with each glance north.

As we arrive at a stop, there are deep breaths of satisfaction when our eyes meet the river. We appreciate that the beautiful sight always brings memories that run longer than the river itself. There are more deep breaths as the cold water wraps around our ankles. It then hits our legs, our stomachs, our necks, until we are fully immersed in the crisp water.

Shivering as we step back into the sunshine, our bodies subconsciously leap back in.

Throwing several handfuls of water, bathing in its beauty, and floating atop the surface.

Rushing water compliments our howls of laughter.

The river is kind to us as we are kind to it. The river is a part of home.

Barb at Moyie Kootenai Confluence.JPG

vivacious rapids

rainbow fish plunging into

burning cold water

Dylan Luce, Conservation Policy Intern

NF Payette autumn @Greg Stahl.jpg

More Than Water

Brittany Roell, Conservation Policy Intern

To me, a river is more than just a piece of water, it’s a place where memories are made, where decisions are made. Being down in Gatlinburg as a child, the memories the rivers would hold are more captivating than anything else. Sitting by the river, watching it rush through the forest and crash against the rocks helps me when I am making a choice. Seeing that something so beautiful can hit the bumps and still have its power is incredible.

I’m not from Idaho, but I have been in Idaho long enough to see the beauty of the rivers. Driving up to McCall on weekends away with friends and family, the scene of the river rushing alongside makes it feel like we aren’t alone.

Lower Salmon River upstream @Ava Isaacson.JPG

Plastic River

Zoe Benson, Education Intern

The stream becomes the river, and the river becomes the ocean, and the salmon connect all three.

But, as I drink from my plastic water bottle, and as I gaze at my plastic phone, and swipe my plastic currency, I wonder, where have the salmon gone?

The joy of material is useless against the joy of a river.

For a fish has no use for plastic.

A fish has no use for garbage.

And when me and my plastic are gone, the river will still remain…

but the salmon may not.

Back Home

Blake Hunter

Resting on a polyester-cloaked couch, peering into numbing pixels has never been what home feels like.

Plugging asphalt into the earth, and rolling tires on it, even this has never been what home feels like.

Stepping over a log or a boulder, crunching onto gravel, is closer to what home feels like.

Breath fogging in frigid sky, stepping off the path getting to what home feels like.

Standing next to cold encapsulation, watching this planet at its base, being near the movement, makes me think:

Oh, this is what home feels like.



Molly Meyer

What are they? What do they do?

They provide water for me and you

They provide summer fun and beauty and biodiversity too

So next time you pass a river say thanks

Because they make our Idaho truly great

Thank you to all of our service learning students and colleagues.