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

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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Dianne Carroll Burdick
Dianne Carroll Burdick
Dianne Carroll Burdick has worked as a photojournalist in the West Michigan area since 1991. A graduate of Western Michigan University, she has photographed for The Grand Rapids Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Detroit Free Press, Advance Newspapers, Grand Rapids Magazine, BLUE Magazine and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting and thought provoking stories of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2016.


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