A Look at Tucker River Fellows

GPS Blog
A favorite signature program of some of our Upper School students, Tucker River Fellows is an endowed, multiyear cocurricular program started by the Board of Trustees and named after former headmaster Randy Tucker. Designed to prepare future leaders to understand and have an impact on the conservation of the Tennessee River, the program positions Fellows to spend part of their summers and following academic years engaged in experiential learning about the many issues impacting their local watershed as well as learning about the historical, ecological, political, economic, and aesthetic significance of the Tennessee River.

Summer Fun
This past summer, newly inducted Fellows, all members of the freshman class, participated in a variety of activities to get to better know and understand Chattanooga’s outdoor landscape. These adventures included:
Those entering their second year in the program also spent time bonding this summer with overnight rafting trips down the Ocoee (we’re told there was bull riding, singing, and enough blackberry cobbler to make lasting memories), riverside brainstorming at TNACI, and rainy day trips to coffee shops to work on project concepts to carry out during the school year.

Embarking on Projects
When the school year got underway, the freshman Fellows began work on their group project, which focuses on the characteristics of the Tennessee River. Of course, to best understand our water, it is helpful to have other waterways to compare it to. Enter: Pucon, Chile. For Winterim in February, the group traveled to South America for a kayaking excursion that allowed them to study the San Pedro River. While there, the girls collected data from tributaries to compare to their locally collected samples, taken under the expertise of Dr. Jeannie Long, GPS biology teacher. Dr. Brandon Noel, River Fellows Sponsor, said about the trip, “This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to assess stream health in two different countries in opposite hemispheres.”

Sophomore Fellows have also been working on projects all year long, though each student had the opportunity to select her individual project, based on her interests. Dean of Teaching and Learning Katye Adams Couch ’92 explained, “Sophomore year, Fellows choose a focus and work with local experts, scientific literature, and policy to become more knowledgeable about their chosen topic in order to implement an independent project.”
Projects include a podcast that gives listeners ideas to help make the environment more sustainable, a reusable bag to eliminate single-use plastic bags, an Instagram account that advocates for mental health by promoting opportunities to volunteer in the environment, and more. 

The remainder of the year looks exciting for the River Fellows, with plans to continue exploring the outdoor community, pitch and execute solutions for local watershed issues, mentor underclassmen, and present information and findings to the greater school community during Chapel.

Signature programming at GPS allows students to explore their interests beyond the classroom, grow as learners, and make connections across grades and the greater Chattanooga community. We believe when girls are passionate about what they are doing, they become the inspiring leaders of tomorrow whose fullest potential is immeasurable.