Applications must be received by 11:59pm on January 31, 2024!

Important Application Tips & Info


It is really important to complete your application questions with thought and clarity. These will be reviewed by the Application Review Committee and are truly the “first impression” of the applicant. They want to know that you are genuinely interested in the program – not just a trip!


We want to know what interests you about the program, what motivates you, and what makes you stand out!


The Application Review Committee will be reaching out to some or all of your references. List people who know you in a group setting, have partnered with you, seen your strengths, and can brag some more about you! One immediate family member (i.e., a parent to a youth or a partner to a volunteer or veteran) is ok.

Soul River Inc. 2024

Deployment Prospectus

Soul River’s 2024 goal is to engage disadvantaged youth and US Veterans as champions for some of the most environmentally threatened habitats in the world. We do this by mobilizing youth and Veterans through educational deployments into these landscapes, combined with mission driven build projects, social media, documentary films, art, and direct meetings with public officials. We empower SRI Veterans and youth with platforms to share their experiences in these threatened environments with their communities and on a large scale. In this way Soul River engages inner-city youth in the larger conversation about conservation.

Our objective is to educate and empower two major, underserved demographics within our community through rich investigative learning experiences – disadvantaged youth and recently returned military veterans. We merge these two groups together on epic, outdoor educational “deployments” with a focus of fly fishing on wild rivers and exploring public lands that are accessible to all. Mother Nature provides the raw beauty, we provide the opportunity of a life-time. Youth and Veterans build authentic relationships with the time and place to heal from battle wounds of both the streets and war zones.

Community Impact Initiative



#MISSIONFORWARD is the overarching title of a series of community projects which will be implemented into each of the 2024 Deployments. These are joint-effort humanitarian projects which involve partnerships with our host communities and partners. The “mission-forward projects” are identified in conversation with the community we are connecting with in advance of our arrival. When we are on a deployment we as SRI (youth and Veterans) step in as an additional workforce to help the community achieve their desired outcomes, whether they be infra-structure development or otherwise. This is done in the style of the Peace Corps and is modeled from the Navy SeaBees aka the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions. The goal is to deeply engage Soul River in a community and to ensure the formation of reciprocal relationships. For these mission-forward projects, SRI teams of Veterans, youth and community members work side by side toward one goal: to repair what is broken so that it can be functional again.

Soul River Inc. In The Media

In The Field


STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.


Learning and exploring entomology; Utilizing river navigation tools; Studying river habitats and learning about restoration; Transferring insect knowledge to the art of tying river-specific flies; Identifying various species; Integrating conservation-focused dialogue and education; Storytelling and Presentation development; Public Speaking and Personal Story development; Professional advocacy development; Art making and Journal Writing.


Soul River creates opportunities for individuals to be leaders by learning new skills and work-ing together to address the task at hand. Participants become strong team members and better collaborators, as well as better teachers and students. Youth are required to research our deployment areas and communities and to be familiar with the threats faced in each location before departure to the location.


Incorporating land navigation tools and education; Teaching survival skills and wilderness preparation; Building opportunities for small group leadership; Integrating professional career development with an emphasis on STEAM and outdoor careers ; Mentoring, peer-to-peer and veteran-to-youth.


What is learned on the river and on the trails translates into daily life, by developing patience, attention to detail, place-specific knowledge and personal growth through physical challenges. Specific Skills: River reading and navigation; Casting instruction; Tying river-specific flies; Teaching rod and reel basics (anatomy of the rod and reel, line, leader, tippet, and knot tying); Instructing on river ambassadorship and angler etiquette; Backpacking and outdoor experience.


Soul River focuses on bringing together youth and Veterans with the intention of mentorship, mutual growth, and community engagement. Opportunities for Creating Strong Communities: Small groups for learning, maintaining a strong youth to veteran ratio (3:1); Providing a safe space for conversation and authenticity amongst all participants; Training and focus on Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion education; Inviting prior participants on future outings for relationship sustainability and mentorship.


Soul River matches action and a process to the idea that “your voice matters” by engaging youth and Veterans in opportunities to speak to elected officials about their experiences in the field. Specific Civic Engagement: Advocacy through letter-writing to congressional members; Social media campaigns in collaboration with partner conservation organizations; Public Speaking opportunities at Soul River Events; Visits to elected officials in Oregon and in Washington DC; Opportunities to engage in lobbying for public lands in Nation’s Capital.


Advanced Youth Leadership Opportunities Special operations of advance leadership mentored and fostered by veteran leaders. Soul Mountain is a small group that focus specifically on youth leaders whom are seeking advanced leadership and pursuing conservation as a career. Soul Mountain uses unconventional education in the field working closely with conservation groups to help achieve the highest of caliber of youth leaders SRI can foster. This program offers deeper learning and hands-on experiences with leaders working in conservation, further underlining the growing expertise of youth leaders as voices for conservation. Soul Mountain focuses on supporting and providing pathways to further mentorship, higher education and workforce opportunities related to conservation.




June 9, 2024

Portland, Oregon

SRI’s ECO – Youth Leadership Lab is a unique initiative, combining outdoor education, environmental awareness and access to nature for youth and veterans. A diverse range of modules, led by veterans and supported by local experts and conservation partners, provides a holistic approach to learning. Here are some examples of the modules:

Outdoor and Environmental Education: The program provides a comprehensive outdoor education experience, covering various aspects such as ecosystems, biodiversity and humans, PNW flora and fauna, conservation advocacy, public lands education, fire craft, HAM radio, knot tying, land navigation and camping basics. Innovative Module – Upcycled Outdoor Garment Design: The “designing and creating an upcycled outdoor garment” module is innovative and offers a creative outlet for participants. Integrating botany and material studies into garment creation adds an interdisciplinary aspect to the learning experience. This module will culminate in an Open House event that serves as a platform for participants to showcase their creations. This not only boosts their confidence but also provides exposure to industry professionals, including outdoors brand design teams, creatives, and apparel executives.

Conducting modules in watersheds and natural areas around Portland allows participants to directly engage with nature. This hands-on approach enhances the learning experience and fosters a deeper connection to the environment. By targeting communities with limited access to nature, the program addresses equity issues related to outdoor education and access to nature. It promotes inclusivity and ensures that a diverse range of youth and veterans can benefit from the program.

Beyond traditional academic learning, the program emphasizes practical skills such as sewing, pattern making, and outdoor survival skills. These skills are not only valuable in outdoor settings but also contribute to personal development and career opportunities.


Educational Empowerment:

  •  Foster an understanding of environmental issues
  •  Educate youth about climate change, biodiversity conservation and environmental stewardship

Leadership Development:

  • Cultivate leadership skills, including communication, teamwork, and decision-making, to empower participants as environmental leaders
  • Encourage a sense of responsibility and accountability for environmental stewardship and advocacy

Positive Role Modeling:

    • Veterans serve as positive role models for youth to emulate
    • Demonstrate the value of hard work, dedication, and lifelong learning

Practical Skill Development

  • Provide hands-on experiences in environmental projects, such as tree planting and river restoration
  • – Develop practical skills that include designing and creating an upcycled garment, first aid, survival skills and camping fundamentals


  • Facilitate networking opportunities with professionals, organizations and mentors.

Community Engagement:

  • Promote active participation in community-based environmental initiatives.
  • Encourage youth leaders to engage with local communities

Educational Workshops:

  • Conduct workshops on environmental science, conservation and advocacy.
  • Provide hands on workshops in first aid, survival skills, HAM radio, camping

Leadership Training Sessions:

  • Organize leadership training sessions covering communication, storytelling and problem-solving skills

Environmental Design:

  • Studying plants and developing once design  around textile design, pattern making, conceptualizing an outdoor jacket based on the environment of the are focus learned in the outdoors
  • Offer mentorship opportunities with veteran leaders

Networking Events:

  • Arrange networking events and meetings with environmental experts
  • Facilitate connections between participants and professionals in the field

Youth Empowerment:

  • Empowered and educated youth contributing actively to environmental sustainability
  • Positive role models inspiring peers and community members

Long-term Impact on Veterans:

  • Enhanced well-being and a sense of purpose among veterans as they positively impact the lives of the next generation

Enhanced Educational Outcomes:

  • Improved academic performance, attendance, and motivation, leading to increased graduation rates and higher educational aspirations

Resilience to Climate Change:

  • Community resilience built through awareness and preparation for the impacts of climate change


 August 3 – 10, 2024

Open to youth leaders with 1 year with SRI or two deployments.

Soul River Inc. will return to the Arctic to deepen and continue to enrich our strong partnership with the Gwich’in community. We will be interfacing with the Gwich’in community, gaining knowledge on the importance of protecting wild landscapes, adventure through story and culture, and growing leadership  in the Arctic. We will have one on one meetings with leaders to learn about their stand and their fight for their land and culture. Our deployment will take us from Fairbanks up to the Atigun River Gorge beside the Gates of the Arctic where we will make base camp and explore, hike, and fly fish all while connecting to the land. We will establish an environmental, educational basecamp to engage, build, and advocate for one of our planet’s few remaining pristine ecosystems, the Arctic. This deployment is the pinnacle of joint efforts between veterans and young leaders of tomorrow in partnership with the Gwich’in community through cultural immersion and environmental engagement. Cross-cultural engagement is a central objective and is fundamental to our main conservation goal of protecting sensitive landscapes. We will implement an interactive, non-traditional classroom at our base camp. SRI youth and veterans will have an opportunity to practice leadership and advocacy in preparation for congressional meetings in Washington D.C.  and local state level following the deployment.

  • Take grassroot efforts to protect the environment and strengthen understanding of environmental issues
  • Create links among Gwich’in youth and community and SRI youth and community.
  • Discuss impacts of climate change, wildlife, ecosystems, culture, etc.
  • Instill community-building leadership skills in youth
  • Apply conservation-minded practices
  • Provide a platform for public policy and advocacy (post-deployment)
  • Washington DC |Advocacy Trip
Deschutes – Littleleaf Outfitters


August 17 – 20, 2024

Deschutes River, Warm Springs Reservation

There are 39 miles of the Lower Deschutes River on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation offering world class fly fishing for Rainbow Trout & Steelhead. The Deschutes River is one of the premier trout rivers in the nation with 1,700 fish per mile. The river is equally special for great steelhead fishing. The most celebrated trout water is the section below Pelton dam where Littleleaf Guide Service takes their clients. This cascading stretch of water holds excellent hatches of caddisflies, mayflies, stoneflies, and midges. They are the only outfitter to offer single day and multi-day camping trips on the Native side of the River. Soul River will partner up again with LittleLeaf Guides, a Native American husband and wife team who are fly fishing guides and outfitters. We will have access to 39 private, unspoiled miles of fishing access where we will plan to drift boat and  4×4 off-road drive on land along this special 39 miles of river. We will also walk and wade into these magical, story book-like waters.

We will be making a base camp in the Deschutes area and there will be a mix of culture, art, indegenous  history and the opportunity to listen to some amazing story telling from Little Leaf Outfitters, and yes of course fly fishing at its finest!

Overall Curriculum 
  • Outdoor Leadership
  • Public Land Advocacy
  • Fly Fishing
  • Native American Culture
  • Advocacy
Mission Forward Project:

Little Leaf Outfitters
Navajo Guide service


September 21 – 25, 2024

Utah, Monument Valley

Known as one of the United States of America’s most iconic landscapes and considered an imprint on the rich cultural history of America, The Bears Ears National Monument is at the center of politically charged discussions regarding land designations in our country. Soul River youth and Veterans will learn about the rich history of Navajo culture in the United States, as well as the environmental and conservation issues they face, with the guidance and support of our Navajo partner. Soul River will make a base camp on the land of the Navajo Nation inside monument valley and connect to the land and community.

This deployment will mobilize Soul River Inc. youth and Veterans into Monument Valley and foster deep connections with local leaders, while exploring America’s most stunning landscapes, including The Valley of the God’s outdoor museum and the area’s dense concentration of traditional homes, petroglyphs and cultural artifacts. This is a destination that offers many opportunities for exploration and discovery. It is said that this was once the most densely populated area in the U.S. before colonization.

Soul River will merge with the Navajo Nation, which has been united to protect Bears Ears, as a place of cultural importance and environmental significance. Our goal is to align with the community, learn their values and concerns, build strong relationships and engage in a project which can provide support for their ongoing efforts to maintain their culture and land. The project will be hands-on skill-building and will develop young leaders to be advocates and activists. This experience will be rich of exploring Utah lands with ATV’s Overlanding the land and base camping along rivers, lakes and fly fishing all while learning about Navjo culture.

Our focus will be learning about land management, trail access and safety with ATV’S, Navajo culture to become better stewardship for public lands.

Mission Forward Project:

Little Leaf Outfitters


March 21-28, 2020

New Mexico

The Gila River, a tributary of the Colorado River in Southwest New Mexico, could be considered the birthplace of wilderness and it remains an incredibly wild and incredible place.

When one of the fathers of modern conservation, Aldo Leopold, convinced the US Forest Service that the headwaters of the Gila should be designated the world’s first primitive area back in 1924, it set the stage for the Wilderness Act of 1964. Deservingly, the Gila became the nation’s first congressionally designated Wilderness and remains the largest Wilderness Area in New Mexico.

Today the Gila, the last free-flowing river in New Mexico, remains an oasis of recreation, culture and biodiversity. The West Fork, Middle Fork, and much of the East Fork of the Gila River sit in the shadows of the Black Range along the Continental Divide and the rugged Mogollon Mountains looming at elevations upwards of 10,000 feet in the Gila Wilderness. Surrounded by a varied landscape that includes one of the world’s largest and healthiest Ponderosa Pine forests, the Gila headwaters help sustain abundant wildlife ranging from the rare Gila Trout, wild turkeys, eagles, and dusky grouse to deer, pronghorn, elk, bighorn sheep, javelina, cougars, and black bears. Several packs of reintroduced endangered Mexican wolves have established themselves in the Wilderness Area alongside the world’s largest population of rare Mexican spotted owls.

The deployment will explore this wild river’s watershed and its rich ecological, cultural and spiritual values.

  • Explore the nation’s first wilderness and New Mexico’s last free-flowing river ecosystem and its importance as a migration corridor for wildlife.

  • Learn about living tribal cultures and history in the GIla.

  • Learn about the conservation of the rare Gila Trout.

  • Raise the awareness of Mother Nature’s healing and foster mentor relationships.

  • Learn about threats to the Gila and how to become advocates for the conservation of this national treasure.

Mission Forward Project: 
American River | Washington DC Advocacy Trip
questions or comments?

Get In Touch