Augsburg students set off for semester on the river

A group of students from Augsburg College begins a trip from St. Paul to New Orleans Tuesday morning as a part of the school's first-ever River Semester.

The 16 students will study the cultures and environment of the places they visit, while they complete a full course load of regular classes.

The students will spend about half of their 2,000-mile trip traveling the Mississippi River in canoes.

"It's really going to be a challenge for these students, for all of us, on many different levels," said political science professor Joe Underhill, the trip's program director. "But we feel that's a great way for people to learn and develop the kinds of skills that will serve them well in all sorts of future endeavors and challenges that they might have to face."

The students were scheduled to start their trip from Harriet Island near downtown St. Paul at 9:30 Tuesday morning aboard more than a dozen 24-foot canoes. They expect to reach the mouth of the Mississippi in a little over three months.

"It's something where everyone has to be really vigilant, they have to pay attention as we're out on the water," Underhill said. "That is something that is I think a valuable learning experience."

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