The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

The Ledyard Canoe Club Organizes the Dartmouth Explorers Symposium

Jesse Feldman-Stein '18 and Lily Xu '18 welcome guests at the Dartmouth Explorers Symposium hosted by the Ledyard Canoe Club.

Dan Reicher '78 speaks about his Yangtze expedition and the Three Gorges Dam, during the Dartmouth Explorers Symposium hosted by the Ledyard Canoe Club.

Article Type 

The Ledyard Canoe Club organized the second-ever Dartmouth Explorers Symposium which explored themes of adventure and leadership though tales of expeditions and races across decades. Hannah Rubin '20 shares her experience at the symposium. 

The weekend started with a tour of a display of historical artifacts and documents in the Rauner Archives followed by talk by James Zug ’91, author of American Traveler: The Life and Adventures of John Ledyard, the Man Who Dreamed of Walking the World​.

The Rauner display was curated by Jaime Eeg ’18 and included a room where attendees could handle documents and flip through the pages of old journals and notes. It was a very neat experience to be able to hold postcards sent to Ledyard from all over the world and read the minutes of the first meeting. Following that was Conservation on Tap, which included the premier screening of a new conservation-oriented film by the filmmaker Ben Masters. Events on Saturday began with the Mascoma River Slalom Race, the oldest consecutively run whitewater slalom competition in the country.

That afternoon the Dartmouth Explorers Symposium was held in Dartmouth Hall. The event featured Ledyard alumni who have been part of historic adventures from the 1972 Munich Olympics, which introduced the world to whitewater racing and saw the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists, to the 1966 and 1985 National Geographic Sea of Japan and Korea expeditions, to the first trip to kayak the Great Gorges of the Yangtze in 1984.

These Dartmouth explorers spoke about how they have integrated their river experiences into a broad range of careers including politics, clean energy, medicine, business and filmmaking. Speakers also addressed the topic of conservation to ensure that we continue protect the places where we play and work. This year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act while still acknowledging the increased necessity of switching to renewable energy sources.

Our panel of experts included Frank Magilligan, Dartmouth Professor of Geography; Amy Singler, Director of River Restoration with American Rivers; and Scott Hall of Great River Hydro. They discussed the controversial role of hydropower on the rivers we paddle and the path towards a sustainable future.

Sunday events began with a mass-start downriver race at the Wells River. After the race, the Ledyard Club historian, Michael Schedin ’20, offered a tour of the Olympic Boat Shed down by the river. The weekend concluded with a discussion on expedition planning led by several symposium speakers.

Getting to meet all of the alumni who have had a great impact on the club and helped guide generations of students since their time at Dartmouth was inspiring. It was great to hear tales of adventure from 40 years ago and laugh at similar stories of mistakes made and lessons learned. Connecting with the alumni who still have a strong presence in Ledyard was an informative and valuable experience. Hopefully, we will continue to collaborate with and learn from the adventurers, racers, and leaders who attended the symposium.

-Submitted by Hannah Rubin '20, Rockefeller Center Mini Grant Recipient 

The Rockefeller Center's Mini-Grants program funds registration fees for students attending conferences, as well as the costs of bringing guest speakers to Dartmouth. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences