Building a life as a purpose-driven storyteller

hosted by Ed Roberson of Mountain & Prairie Podcast



Purpose, Place, and Practice



  • Storytellers, writers, artists, and other creatives ready to put their art into the world, but aren’t sure how to begin the process
  • Activists and advocates for the land and waters who want to improve their place-based storytelling skills
  • Climate and conservation leaders who want to transform the way they think about communications and increase funding to their organizations
  • Future creative storytellers looking to shift into a new career path


"It is no exaggeration when I say that this course with Freeflow was absolutely life-changing. I’d been in a creative rut for a long time and between the Freeflow staff, the river guides, the instructor Ed Roberson, and the absolutely amazing cohort of writers and creatives that attended the course, I walked away brimming with ideas and ready to launch a new project. I’m also certain that I’ve created many life long friends, and have continued to feel supported by this community, months after the course ended. I have never laughed so much, learned so deeply, and embedded myself so fully in the world."

[ Anja Semanco | 2023 participant ]


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.



If things had gone according to plan, I’d be a money-chasing land developer. To quote Wallace Stegner, I used to be a “boomer.” I wanted to “pillage and run… to make a killing and end up on Easy Street.” 

But about 15 years ago, after a series of unexpected health and life upheavals, my outlook and career took an abrupt turn. When the dust settled, I had lost the urge to extract maximum financial gain from the land. I instead became obsessed with protecting water and wide-open spaces. Conserving western landscapes became my primary professional focus – first in real estate, then in non-profit land and water conservation, and now through multi-media platforms, including my podcast Mountain & Prairie

As I’ve meandered down this winding career path and discovered the importance of purpose-driven work, I’ve accumulated a deep, diverse bank of knowledge related to the power of storytelling. Some of the knowledge was gleaned through my podcast conversations with the West’s most legendary writers, creatives, conservationists, and thought leaders. Some was learned via books, mentors, and formal study. But the vast majority has been accumulated through a decade and a half of hard-won experience, experimentation, and lots (and lots!) of trial and error. 

Whether crafting a multi-million dollar grant proposal, boiling down the complexities of water rights into a compelling narrative, or conducting a substantive interview about a controversial issue, I’ve learned that storytelling is my most powerful tool for effecting significant change. People are moved to action by engaging stories, so learning to craft compelling narratives that resonate with specific audiences has been the most important skill I’ve ever developed – professionally, personally, and creatively.

Over the course of our five days on the Rogue River, I will share a blend of big-picture ideas and specific hard skills that I’ve developed over the years– strategies, practices, and tactics that have been invaluable in my journey to becoming a full-time, purpose-driven storyteller. I'll take us from the 10,000-foot view of the craft and philosophy of narrative storytelling, to the 10-foot view of the software, gear, financial realities, and specific resources that you’ll need to get your project off the ground.


"Ed was inspiring and supportive, enthusiastic and so knowledgeable. I went into this Freeflow journey with the beginnings of a memoir and quite a bit of imposter syndrome. I came out of it inspired, motivated, and determined to write, finish the book, then write some more...I also have more determination than ever to use my words, my stories, to fight for protection of the places that I love. I feel catapulted into a new chapter of my life, committed to storytelling and the conservation of our precious western rivers."

[ Suzanne Strazza | 2023 participant ]



  • Finding your voice as a purpose-driven storyteller;
  • Understanding authenticity;
  • Cultivating the confidence to share your genuine self with the world;
  • Discovering the intersection of your unique personal values and areas of expertise;
  • Approaching storytelling with a spirit of generosity;
  • Shifting away from outdated academic and commercial perspectives toward a more contemporary model for sharing your art with the world;
  • Understanding your audience and finding common ground among diverse stakeholders;
  • Building rapport and honing your interviewing skills;
  • Using storytelling as a powerful tool for non-profit fundraising;
  • Committing to a consistent and prolific creative practice;
  • Building a devoted following from scratch;
  • Promoting yourself without being a “self-promoter”;
  • Transforming your passion for storytelling into a profitable business;
  • Unconventional approaches to making money from your art (that don’t involve selling your soul);
  • Podcasting equipment, software, and technical skills;
  • Specific conservation case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of positive, optimistic, win-win storytelling;
  • One-on-one “office hours” with me to workshop and brainstorm your own storytelling projects;
  • And much more as the discussions evolve over the course of our five days together…




Your program cost of $3499 includes:

  • daily discussions, workshops, and generative sessions with Ed Roberson + Freeflow faculty
  • one-on-one “office hours” with Ed to workshop and brainstorm your own storytelling projects
  • pre-course logistical support + substantive reading / media list
  • professional river guides, boats, paddling gear, waterproof bags, and safety gear 
  • nutritious meals and snacks, plus wine and coffee, from breakfast on August 15 through lunch on August 20
  • all permitting + fees
  • the full, university-accredited curriculum - whether you take the course for credit or not

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 and BIPOC folks. 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.

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 the course for University of Montana credit, please let us know. We also encourage you to seek financial support from your organization or employer, as Freeflow courses may be taken for professional development or continuing education. 

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 bring their own camping gear (tent + sleeping bag + sleeping pad). These items may be rented from our outfitting partner, or, in the case of tents, potentially borrowed from Freeflow. (Please tell us if you need any camping gear and we will help you track it down.) 

Space on this adventure is limited to 11 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 a good old-fashioned check, or by credit card or bank transfer via our online payment system.



Energize your creative work, reimagine your professional trajectory, and build community 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. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Read more about the registration process and payment options here.

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