Discovery 2015: Finding Sustainable Solutions

By Elwood Yoder

Two days after graduation, June 9, 2015, twenty-five EMS high school students and three teachers boarded a motor coach and left Harrisonburg for a 19-day academic expe- dition through 15 states called “Discovery.”Their goal was to seek sustainable solutions to complex issues facing the United States including energy, agriculture, water, and bison management.

EMS Discovery is an academic learning trip that brings together knowledgeable experts in many fields of study with students who are open
to learning and questioning various options, and have a desire for faith development. These trips, conducted every other year since 2003, foster a desire to learn about the world, to investigate real-life issues in a hands-on way, and to discover the meaning of faith in the process.

Discovery 2015 students quickly discovered that social and economic issues have multiple perspec- tives and do not lend themselves to easy answers. Discovery teachers had arranged for meetings with experts who represented starkly different points of view, which forced the students to think and create their own opinions.

The water case study, conducted in Colorado and Utah, pushed students to evaluate their own use of water. From a cool mountain stream in Rocky
Mountain National Park to the dry environs of Arches National Park, Discovery students studied the use and misuse of water resources. A three-day
rafting trip on the Colorado River, with skilled and knowledgeable guides, challenged the students and teachers to consider their place in God’s creation. Erin Hostetler ’16 learned that “God calls us to be caretakers of the earth.” Holly Mumaw ’16 discovered that showers aren’t a daily necessity, in terms of water usage, and Leah Wenger ’16 found flush toilets strange because of their enormous consumption of water after her own experience using simple pit toilets along the Colorado River.

Reflecting on the 6,000 mile trip, Leah Wenger stated that going out and seeing the vast diversity of geography across the United States has helped her realize the “richness of home” in the Shenandoah Valley. When asked whether Discovery was worth the money, time, and resources, and whether it should be offered again in two years, Holly Mumaw resoundingly said, “Absolutely.”

Want to know more? Go to and pull down to “Discovery” under QuickLinks to view links from past trips.

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