Storytellers as Change Agents in the American West and Beyond

A five-day float through Gates of Lodore and Dinosaur National Monument, focused on mining the power of a good story to effect change

hosted by Ed Roberson of Mountain & Prairie Podcast



Place, Power, and Purpose

This course is currently full - if you would like to be added to the waitlist, please reach out to us at [email protected]



Ed Roberson is a Colorado-based conservationist, storyteller, and creator of Mountain & Prairie, a top-ranked podcast featuring long-form interviews with innovators of the American West. Since its first episode in early 2016, Mountain & Prairie has gone on to be recognized by the Aspen Institute, Patagonia, Apple Podcasts, MeatEater, The Nature Conservancy, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, High Country News, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Montana Governor's Office, and more. Ed's career has focused on land, water, and conservation for nearly two decades, primarily in the American West. He served as Conservation Director at Palmer Land Conservancy for four years, leading the organization's cutting-edge water conservation efforts on Colorado’s Arkansas River. Prior to Palmer, he was a ranch broker and worked extensively throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. He has also served on boards and committees for a wide range of conservation organizations in Colorado. Away from work, Ed is a committed husband, father of two, voracious reader, comically slow ultrarunner, and devotee of the Strenuous Life.



Join conservationist , storyteller, and podcaster Ed Roberson for five days of adventure though the Green River’s Gates of Lodore, where we’ll examine the region’s rich history, discuss past and present conservation challenges, and learn how effective storytelling can be a powerful tool for protecting our beloved wild places.

During his nearly two-decade career in western land, water, and conservation, Ed has found success not by harping on the doom and gloom, but by focusing on solutions, common ground, and win-win scenarios. Combining an insatiable curiosity of the history of the West with a deep desire to protect land and water, Ed has shown that optimistic, easily accessible storytelling can have a measurable impact for good. 

Whether your audience is a publisher, private foundation, potential donor, board of directors, governmental funding agency, landowner, politician, live audience, blog reader, or podcast listener, your ability to transform complex issues into captivating stories is a critical skill for effecting change. In this workshop, Ed will share strategies from crafting multi-million dollar grant proposals, to boiling down the complexities of water rights into a compelling narrative, to conducting substantive interviews about controversial issues - and everything in between.

During our five days on the river, we’ll dig into conservation-related case studies that demonstrate the power and effectiveness of creating collaborative, win-win solutions. We'll explore the hard and soft skills of podcasting– including audio equipment, attracting and building rapport with guests, and developing a unique niche, and creating a profitable business model. Ed will also provide a long list of optional pre-trip book, film, and podcast suggestions that will offer copious information on the history of the Green River, its conservation challenges, and instruction on how to build your audience and tell them the stories they need to hear.


  • Writers, journalists, grant-writers, communicators, podcasters, managers, educators, and curious people of all backgrounds will find this workshop compelling.
  • Communicators and leaders of all genres and skill levels are welcome.
  • This field course is offered for undergrad or graduate credit through the University of Montana, and is open to non-students and students alike.
  • Participants are strongly encouraged to bring a storytelling idea or in-progress project that they would like to workshop with the cohort.
  • Ed’s goal is for you to leave this course with a deep understanding of the region’s history and conservation challenges, as well as with a new set of valuable skills that will allow you to use storytelling as a tool to find mutually beneficial solutions and effect lasting change in your own community - recognizing the need for optimistic, purpose-driven storytellers who strive to make the world a better place.




Place, Power, and Purpose is eligible for scholarships through The Freeflow Foundation.

Because we believe teachers and students need regenerative outdoor experiences more than most, Freeflow always extends a small discount to contracted educators and enrolled students. We also offer a small discount to our alumni. Because we believe in paying our instructors, facilitators, support staff, and guides an equitable wage, we do not offer individual discounts that compromise the integrity of those wages. If you need financial support, please consider applying for our scholarships.

Your program cost includes:

  • daily discussions, workshops, and generative sessions with Ed Roberson + Freeflow faculty
  • pre-course logistical support + substantive reading / media list
  • professional river guides, boats, paddling gear, waterproof bags, and safety gear 
  • delicious, healthful meals and snacks, plus wine and coffee, from breakfast on September 2 through breakfast on September 7
  • all permitting, parking, and access fees
  • MiiR Freeflow coffee mug, to use and take home with you

The course also serves as an introduction to the Freeflow galaxy of writers, leaders, and thinkers. Our alumni also receive discounts on future Freeflow courses. If you’d like to take Place, Power, and Purpose for University of Montana credit, please let us know.

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.

Participants must either bring their own camping gear (tent + sleeping bag + sleeping pad), or rent sleep kits from our outfitters. A tent rental is $25; sleep kit rental (sleeping bag + pad) is $40.

Space on this adventure is limited to 12 participants. We will close registration once the roster is full. Please apply early.

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 payment link you'll receive once your application is approved.

Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.



Make space for your creative work, movement, and new ideas this autumn. Send us your questions and we’ll get in touch right away. If you know you’re ready to apply, click the APPLY NOW button.

You may also like…