Full-time ceramist and part-time river guide in the Grand Canyon, Laura Campbell developed the tools for her professions through her experience at Sisters High School.

In her junior year at Sisters High School, Campbell began participating in IEE (Interdisciplinary Environmental Expedition). Led by Rand Runco, Samra Spear, and Glen Herron, the class spotlights nature in three subjects: Physical Activity and Outdoor Recreation—taught by Rand Runco; English — taught by Samra Spear; and Science — taught by Glen Herron.

At the end of the year-long course of classes, students have acquired skills such as fly fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing, and no-trace camping. The highlight of the course for many students is the end-of-the-year raft trip.

Upon completing the course as juniors, many students will be offered positions as IEE interns, as Laura Campbell was in her senior year. IEE interns are predominantly seniors who have taken IEE and found a passion for the class. Their job mainly consists of helping to lead the expeditions.

As the end of the school year approaches, IEE interns learn how to guide river-rafting expeditions for the annual IEE rafting trip. As an IEE intern her senior year, Campbell learned how to become a river guide, and led a group of juniors through their rafting expedition on the Deschutes River.

Becoming an IEE intern and leading that year’s raft trip is where Campbell first started out as a river guide. According to Campbell, she “definitely wouldn’t do [her] job now if it wasn’t for IEE.”

Inspired by her first rafting trip as a guide, Campbell currently is a river guide in the Grand Canyon National Park, where she has worked for seven years.

Campbell also studied under Mike Baynes during her time at Sisters High School. From Baynes, the art teacher during Campbell’s time at Sisters High School, Campbell learned pottery.

According to Campbell, the “support that the arts have in Sisters was really motivating.” So motivating in fact, that Campbell became a full-time ceramist.

Locally, Campbell is a featured artist at Studio Redfield, located on East Hood Avenue in downtown Sisters. In 2016, Campbell also worked with Sisters Elementary School teacher Karen Williams to help fourth-grade students create a mural on the fence of the elementary school along Highway 20. The mural features fish of various sizes, and merged art with river life to create a cohesive lesson for the students. This year, Campbell donated a piece entitled “This Land is Our Land” to Sisters Folk Festival for its annual “My Own Two Hands” art auction.

Campbell has had many other pieces featured in the art auction for My Own Two Hands in addition to the piece she donated this year. The proceeds of this auction are distributed to various music and art programs under Sisters Folk Festival within the Sisters School District.

To pursue careers in art and the outdoors as many students from Sisters do is something unique to this community. For Campbell, being “given the alternative types of education, like learning outside was great for [her] and how [she] learns,” she said.