2021 Green River Field Institute

photo Adam Clark

Telling True Stories From the Edge of Desolation

hosted by Heather Hansman, author of Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West

June 12 – 18, 2021 / Desolation Canyon, Green River, Utah

A seven-day journalistic exploration of the Green River’s Desolation Canyon, focused on inquiry, truth-telling, and resonance in the realm of Western water resources


Heather Hansman is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Smithsonian and many others. She’s Outside magazine’s online environmental columnist, where she covers the intersection between public land, environmental policy, and human impact. Her recent book Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West,  which is about the Green River and the future drought, climate change and water policy in the western U.S., has been called “a worthy updating of a core library containing such works as Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert.” After a decade of raft guiding across the United States, she lives in Seattle, where she’s at work on a book about the sustainability of ski bums and ski towns, forthcoming from Harper Collins in 2021. 

Listen to Heather’s interview with Ed Roberson on Mountain & Prairie Podcast.


The Green River Field Institute includes both land- and river-based learning modules. Participants will meet with a variety of stakeholders and representatives of the landscape. The course will feature craft lectures with Heather, generative exercises, workshopping sessions, and ample opportunities for discussion and inquiry.

An element of personal challenge is fundamental to a Freeflow experience. To that end, the workshop incorporates movement – along the river and through the landscape – as well as intentional exploration of place, as individuals and as a group.

Participants will receive a list of readings, audio pieces, and video to be reviewed before the course. Participants will be expected to prepare fully by reviewing all required items on the media list as well as by pitching the project they intend to work on while on course. This project may be a news story, multimedia creation, profile, podcast, etc. Projects may be completely novel or may serve to expand an existing effort.

The cohort will convene two times via Zoom in the month prior to meeting in Green River for the field experience.

The course is accredited through the University of Montana, and optional college credit is available for undergraduate and graduate students.

The course may also count toward continuing ed credits for professionals in some fields. Check with your organization or institution to see if the workshop can count toward your professional development.


Evening of June 11, 2021 option to camp with Freeflow in Moab, Utah


Morning of June 13 – afternoon of June 17, 2021 RIVER-BASED FIELD EXPERIENCE on Desolation Canyon of the Green River

Evening of June 17 – morning June 18, 2011 decompression in Moab

photo Adam Clark


  • This is an intensive field institute for working journalists, aspiring journalists, and students or teachers of journalism from all backgrounds. Established and emerging journalists encouraged to apply.
  • Journalists, nonprofit communicators, university students, science writers, and environmental writers will find this field institute valuable.
  • There is no prerequisite of prior publication or formal writing education, but students should be compelled learn about crafting stories with intent to publish, inform, educate, or connect.


Because we believe teachers and students need regenerative outdoor experiences more than most, Freeflow always extends a discount to contracted educators and enrolled students.

If you need financial support on your Freeflow course, we invite you to read about our scholarship offerings here. Please check our scholarship page often.The first application window for our scholarships closes on APRIL 1, 2022. We’re also very happy to email or talk on the phone with you about which scholarships might be right for you!

The program cost includes:

  • daily writing instruction and one-on-one sessions with Heather Hansman and Freeflow staff
  • pre-course reader and course materials
  • transportation between Moab, Utah and the Green River
  • delicious meals, snacks, beer, and wine on the trip
  • professional, licensed river guides
  • all taxes and access fees
  • waterproof bags, lifejackets, and all specialized river gear
  • sleeping bag, pad, and tent

Guide gratuities are not included in the program cost. We strongly suggest giving your river guides some love, and we are happy to discuss norms for tipping – just ask.

Registration and payment deadline is May 15, 2021. Capacity on this course is 14 students, and we will close registration once the roster is full.

All deposits and payments are non-refundable. Payment plans are available. Payments can be made by mailing in an old-fashioned check, or by credit card or bank transfer via the link in your electronic invoice.


Freeflow is proud to partner with ARTA River Trips for this course. ARTA was founded in 1963 and, as a non-profit adventure company, continues to donate its profits to river-focused conservation groups.