Wild Rockies Field Institute

About Wild Rockies Field Institute (WRFI)

WRFI /wer’fee/ n. & adj. L20. n.

1. Acronym and nickname for the Wild Rockies Field Institute 2. An independent, nonprofit educational organization that offers affordable, high quality, academically rigorous field courses in some of the most beautiful and interesting landscapes in North America. adj. 3. Characterized by a unique combination of fun, rigor, excellence, adventure, participation, value, team spirit, integrity, responsibility, critical thinking and wildness.


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The Wild Rockies Field Institute (WRFI) is a unique organization offering extraordinary experiences for university students and non-students interested in an educational adventure. WRFI courses explore the complex cultural, political and natural histories of some of the most interesting and beautiful landscapes in North America. Every WRFI course is set up so participants can earn college credit through the University of Montana in one or more of the following disciplines: environmental studies, forestry, geography, Native American studies, resource conservation, and science.

WRFI courses are designed to take students into the arenas where the subject matter they are studying – from ecology to contemporary resource management policy – unfolds before their eyes. By integrating traditional academics with field studies, service projects, and meetings with government officials and community members, we encourage creative and critical thinking, thoughtful dialog, and exploration of diverse perspectives. And by connecting students with human communities and the natural environments in which they are embedded, our courses help students develop a personal land ethic and a powerful sense of place.

It’s not all cerebral, either. All of our courses are taught while traveling under our own power – backpacking, canoeing, kayaking – in wilderness settings from Alaska to Mexico. Depending on the course, students might kayak among icebergs and glaciers off the Alaska coast or hike in the footsteps of Yellowstone’s grizzlies. Students sleep in tents, beneath the stars and in the wind; there are no cushy field stations or dormitories. Which means developing outdoor and leadership skills is part of the program too.

WRFI students have ranged in age from 18 to 72, though the average is around 21 years old. Most people who take WRFI courses are students enrolled at a college or university and take our courses for academic credit. But we also welcome aspiring college students who want to learn the WRFI way before entering university, as well as recent college graduates and graduate students returning to school. Non-students who wish to learn outside of formal academia are also welcome. Many WRFI participants enroll in our courses simply to have an enriching personal experience.

Since 1993, WRFI courses have provided meaningful academic experiences to more than 700 students, helping to fulfill society’s need for engaged, informed citizens capable of addressing complex social and environmental issues.