The Canyonlands Field Institute is holding its annual benefit dinner and silent auction at the Whispering Oaks Ranch on Sunday, Aug. 21, to help raise funds for its outdoor education programs, including activities at its Professor Valley Field Camp, and its Native Teen Guide-In-Training Program. [Courtesy photo]

The Canyonlands Field Institute is holding its annual Benefit Dinner and Silent Auction on Sunday, Aug. 21, at Whispering Oak Ranch in the La Sal Mountains.

The outdoor-education nonprofit invites community members to support a better understanding of the Colorado Plateau during the educational and social evening in the cool mountain air.

This year’s keynote speaker will be former Utah State Archaeologist Dr. Kevin Jones.

He will be presenting a talk about the regional folk legend, Everett Ruess – a solitary young artist, writer and explorer of the Southwest during the 1920s and 1930s. The sudden and mysterious disappearance of Ruess remains a topic of interest for many, and Jones has been particularly close to the case.

Ken Moody of Moab Chef Services will be catering the dinner, which will also feature live musical performances from Colorado’s Paul Roach and Tim Brown. The silent auction will include various works of art, outdoor gear and vacation packages from local and corporate donors.

AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer and Canyonlands Field Institute Recruitment Coordinator Resford Rouzer says CFI would like to thank the community for all of its support. Local residents help the group underwrite its school and youth programs, including its Professor Valley Field Camp, as well as its river programs.

“The focus is both for kids to experience the Colorado Plateau and also to have them understand how Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) relates to the natural world,” Rouzer says. “We also have a summer camp called (the) Explorer Base Camp in the La Sals. It’s pretty similar, but it’s open enrollment and it’s up the mountains.”

Jones’ experience and work in the region align him with CFI’s mission statement, which includes “expand(ing) perception of and appreciation for the beauty and integrity of the natural world, improv(ing) the quality of field-oriented, experiential teaching and learning for students and adults, and encouraging individuals to be involved in the care of their own home places.”

Jones grew up in the Southwest and began learning about archaeology at an early age. His father, Jim Jones, was a National Park Service ranger, and later, the superintendent of Canyonlands National Park. Kevin Jones attributes his early interest and education to his father, and has a message for young people today.

“We have an incredibly rich and interesting past in this area, going back over 10,000 years, and there are traces of the ancient cultures strewn about the landscape,” he says. “Keep your eyes open as you hike and wander, and wonder and learn about those who came before. Above all, respect the things they left behind, as each artifact, each bit of an ancient culture, is important and valuable.”

Jones lived at Dinosaur National Monument during his high school years, and he recalls being amazed by the various rock art and other archaeological sites. He then studied anthropology and archaeology at Colorado State University and the University of Utah.

For 17 years, Jones was in charge of keeping records of all archaeological sites in the state of Utah, and ensuring that important sites were not unnecessarily damaged by construction and development projects.

Annual retreat to feature former state archaeologist

For more information, or to make a reservation, call 435-259-7750, or go to

Tickets for the evening may be purchased for $60. The Canyonlands Field Institute will provide an optional van shuttle to the Whispering Oaks Ranch, departing from the CFI office at 1320 S. U.S. Highway 191 at 4 p.m. Guests may park at the office. The shuttle will leave the ranch around 8 p.m. To reserve seats on the shuttle, email Stacy at by Saturday, Aug. 20.

What: Canyonlands Field Institute’s 2016 Benefit Dinner and Silent Auction

When: Sunday, Aug. 21, at 5 p.m.

Where: Whispering Oaks Ranch, La Sal Mountain Loop Road

Cost: $60 per person; proceeds benefit Canyonlands Field Institute’s educational programs

Information: 435-259-7750, or