I’m going to try and  keep this one short, because I think the pictures say plenty.

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Last week was a big week for us here at JEFF. We finally saw one of our biggest projects come to fruition. Helping to put this event together was an assignment I received on my first week on site, so it was quite satisfying to see it finally happen.

So what is Canoemobile?

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Canoemobile is a program put on by the staff at Wilderness Inquiry along with several other partners, the National Park Service being one of them. Essentially, the program’s aim is to take inexperienced canoe goers out on the water, often for the first time.

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What’s special about the Canoemobile program is that they ask the event coordinators (that’s us) to provide a percentage of groups that meet certain demographics. The purpose of this request is to provide a meaningful experience to participants that likely wouldn’t get the chance to paddle in a canoe otherwise. These being: participants with physical and mental disabilities and inner city youth that have had little to no exposure to outdoor experiences.

So we did that.

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This event ran for 6 days, with the following five groups engaged with their own day, and a sixth day for the public to enjoy.

  • Paraquad: Paraquad empowers people with disabilities throughout the StLouis area to increase their independence through choice and opportunity.
  • Veterans with Disability: Team River Runners, an adaptive recreational therapy program for disabled vets. As well as a local group for veterans dealing with substance abuse.
  • Cleveland Jr Naval Academy High School
  • Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School
  • Lift for Life Academy Middle School

Each day, participants would split up into groups and rotate through a schedule of events.

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After some basic canoe and paddle safety, Wilderness Inquiry staff would take up to 4 canoes out at a time for about an hour.

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Canoemobile event-goers would then participate in land based programming with our park and our partner organizations.These included:

A pioneer and fur trapping living history demonstration (National Park Service)

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Fur Trader Isaiah sets off the beaver trap to the surprise of young on-lookers
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Doug the Pioneer teaches these dudes about the precursor to the “ball in a cup” game with the “skeletal animal toes on a string” game

An introduction to and participation in geocaching (US Army Corps of Engineers)

And a wildlife talk that focused on duck migration, food webs, an aquatic insect netting simulation, and bird watching! (US Fish & Wildlife)

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Ranger Courtney displays native vegetation from the Two-Rivers Wildlife Refuge
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I display some pretty sweet ducks on a stick
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Bird Search!

All in all this turned out to be an excellent program, everyone had a great time, the weather cooperated, and we’re planning on running it again next year, hopefully with even more participants!

Stats

  • Number of new citizens engaged with our park: 258
  • New Partnership formed with Wilderness Inquiry: 1
  • New Partnerships formed with local organizations/schools: 5
  • 5 Lifetime park passes handed out to participants with disabilities

And here’s a few more pictures that I couldn’t fit anywhere else.

img_2515img_2547img_2534img_2270Thanks to Wilderness Inquiry and all of our partners that made this event possible!

Bryce Y.

Centennial Volunteer Ambassador

Student Conservation Association

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial