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Wilderness Classroom finish the epic North American Odyssey

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The Wilderness Classroom completed the epic North American Odyssey on April 4, less than three years after it began in Seattle on Earth Day 2010. It seems like ages ago I wrote that first article about the beginning of their trip on the Northwest Pacific Coast.

Related: The Wilderness Classroom and the North American Odyssey departed on Earth Day

Three years and 11,700 miles later, Amy and Dave Freeman of the Wilderness Classroom ended up in Key West, Florida after nearly circling the North American continent. They either kayaked, canoed, hiked, or dog sledded the entire route. Click here to see a map of their route.

It has been a pleasure to follow and cover their remarkable undertaking. For those that do not follow this column and unfamiliar with their mission, Dave and Amy are not just thrill seeking wanderlusters out to pit themselves against nature, although they have done just that and survived. They are out to educate elementary students on the importance of preserving our wild places and keeping our waterways clean.

Their press release to celebrate the end of the North American Odyssey states that:

"According to the Outdoor Foundation's 2012 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, the biggest reason that children ages 6 to 17 don't participate in outdoor activities is simply a lack of interest in the outdoors. The mission of Wilderness Classroom, 501c3 nonprofit organization, is to increase students' appreciation for the environment while improving core academic skills by introducing students to the wonders of exploration and wilderness travel through live, web-based expeditions and school assemblies."

The Freemans personally met with over 25,000 students during the last three years through their assemblies. They meet with students at classrooms along their route and they also took several breaks in the journey to come home to the Chicago area to meet with Chicago area students. They are based in Western Springs, Illinois.

The assemblies are just an introduction. Once the students learn what the Wilderness Classroom is doing, they can follow along on the web in the classroom or from home. Dave and Amy update their website daily with news from the journey as well as posting interactive problems for the students to participate in.

In fact, Amy emailed me that they were looking forward to coming home where they would be busy with school assemblies over the next month. One question I am looking forward to asking them is what is next for the Wilderness Classroom, but this email partly answered the question. They will surely continue with their mission.

Here is the rest of their press release marking the end of an amazing journey. Congrats Dave and Amy for completing an awesome adventure and for helping pass on the torch to the next generation.

(Key West, FL) Amy and Dave Freeman landed their kayaks in Key West on Thursday, April 4, 2013, completing a 3-year, 11,700-mile expedition across North America by kayak, dogsled and canoe. Over 80,000 elementary and middle school students from around the world have participated in the expedition virtually.

The Freemans began their human (and dog) powered North American Odyssey in Bellingham, WA on Earth Day (April 22) of 2010. The purpose of their expedition is to highlight North America’s waterways and wild places while engaging students, teachers and armchair adventurers in their journey via www.WildernessClassroom.com.

Close encounters with humpback whales, grizzly bears, caribou, crocodiles and sharks are a few of the highlights of their expedition shared with students. In northern Canada the couple traveled for over 40 days at a time without encountering a road or town and survived -50 F temperatures on a regular basis while dogsledding. They witnessed a range of natural phenomena, from a forest fire in the Northwest Territories to the eerie stillness when the eye of Superstorm Sandy passed over them along the New Jersey coast. The Freemans also met directly with over 25,000 students at presentations they conducted along their route.

Photo credit compliments of Bryan Hansel

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