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150th Anniversary of the 1869 Powell Expedition

Welcome to the Powell150 education and outreach site!  


In 2019, the USGS Youth & Education in Science (YES) team marked the 150th anniversary of the first John Wesley Powell expedition down ~1000 miles of the Green & Colorado rivers with a national-scale educational project known as "Powell150." Educational resources about the science along the rivers and a social media campaign around the theme of exploration were developed to engage youth and the public. The project included a partnership with the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition (SCREE) where small groups of interdisciplinary USGS staff participated in a trip down Powell's path, sharing their experiences online and with their local communities after their time on the river. 

The USGS continues to do important science along this river system today, and to contribute information to decision-makers who are working to manage the river basin as a resource for water, recreation, and power in Western states. The focus of the education and outreach efforts surrounding the Powell150 Expedition is to inform and engage the public around the geology and ecology of rivers in general and this river system in particular and to raise public awareness of the natural resources of the Colorado River Basin and USGS science.

While the USGS marked this occasion as an opportunity to highlight the science of the Colorado River Basin, it’s important to note that indigenous people have inhabited the area for over 15,000 years, and tribes in the 19th century had a great deal of knowledge about the river and ecosystems of their homeland. Western migration by white settlers brought conflict and devastating consequences to Native peoples and their natural and cultural resources. In acknowledgment of this, we listened to Native American perspectives on river science, including traditional cultural practices, during community outreach events and discussions throughout the expedition.