This spring, fourth-grade students throughout the St. Croix River valley boarded riverboats armed with binoculars and curious dispositions to learn about the St. Croix River as part of an educational field trip, Wild River Journey. This half-day field trip, coordinated by Wild Rivers Conservancy of the St. Croix & Namekagon and the National Park Service, provided students with access to the riverway while sharing the natural wonders and history of their national park.
“While many students live in close proximity to the river, a large number have not experienced the enrichment that comes with being on the water,” shares Wendy Tremblay, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Conservancy. “We worked with great partners to make this happen including National Park Service, Stillwater Area Community Foundation, the Partnership Plan, and the National Park Foundation.”
Students boarded riverboats out of Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours in Taylors Falls, MN, and in Stillwater, MN at St. Croix Boat & Packet Co. for their Wild River Journey. They learned about the river’s logging history, spotted Riverway birds, and engaged in watershed learning activities thanks to National Park Service staff, Audubon volunteers, and Wild Rivers Conservancy staff.
Ezra, a fourth-grader from Unity, recommends the “Birds and Binoculars” program because “…you get to use binoculars to watch and learn about birds.” A teacher on the trip expressed, “The interactive stations kept the kids engaged, while also connecting to our social studies and science curriculums.”
Wild Rivers Conservancy of the St. Croix & Namekagon is the official nonprofit partner organization of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The Conservancy’s goal with Wild River Journey and their flagship educational program, Rivers Are Alive, is to strengthen the student’s sense of place and to provide a strong connection to the river – creating future generations of river stewards.
“Protecting the Riverway into the future depends on people having a positive experience and helping them understand the significance of the river. Wild River Journey is a fun way to build that connection,” shares Deb Ryun, Executive Director of the Conservancy.