Students paddle into learning with ‘floating classroom’ on the Grand River

Claire Flom Staab, front, and Murphy Williams, back, both staff from Wilderness Inquiry, leads the journey with the sixth-graders from Highlands Middle
Aurora Thompson, left, and Lilly Ryan practice their paddling techniques onshore

Michigan is a water wonderland, and nearly 300 Northview students got to experience some of its wonders with a supervised canoe excursion on the Grand River. Students from Highlands Middle School, Northview High School East Campus and fifth-graders in the Adventure Leadership Program converged on Riverside Park before school was out to learn about canoeing safety, the waterway and environmental issues.

Funded by a $2,500 grant from the Northview Education Foundation, the experience came via the Wilderness Inquiry Canoemobile, a Minneapolis-based national program that provides a “floating classroom” on 24-foot Voyageur canoes. Overseen by Rich Youngberg, coordinator of community education and outdoor experiences at Northview, students also rotated through education stations offered by Blandford Nature Center, Grand Valley Metro Council, the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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