As mentioned in RR part 1, Rivers Are Alive is a program which highlights the underwater river habitat of the St Croix and Namekagon rivers in addition to building an understanding of the connections that people have with all living things at the rivers. This program has been successfully running for years. Each fall, hundreds of young students visit the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway for Rivers Are Alive field trips. They begin with an introduction to the National Park, discuss the elements of a habitat, get tangled in the Web of Life, and discover river life by going mucking with a dip net. Once all the excitement in the mucky edges of the river calm down, everyone gathers in a circle to identify the creatures captured, learn about what those creatures reveal about water quality, and discuss what they (the students) can do to protect the Riverway.
“This program literally teaches kids to look beyond the surface. It sparks their imaginations about discovering hidden things, exploring new areas and topics, and seeing the world from a different perspective,” remarked Julie Galonska, manager of the Riverway’s education programs (source).
Typically a field trip runs 1.5 to 2 hours long to ensure all materials and topics are covered. Sometimes, schools are unable to schedule that large of a time frame. Therefore, a shorter (45 min) version exists. Unfortunately, that shortens discussion time with no opportunity to go mucking. However, everyone still receives all the core elements of the program.
Students discuss the elements of a habitat, feel the thrill of catching a bug and identifying it, learn about what those creatures reveal about water quality, and discuss what they (the students) can do to protect the Riverway. Most importantly, the program is done right next to the River/ National Park.