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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

An Urban Oasis by Paddle

Region 3, September 17, 2013
Voyager canoes required team work to paddle.
Voyager canoes required team work to paddle. - Photo Credit: n/a
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge partnered with Wilderness Inquiry to provide the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure program for 6th graders attending Vista View Elementary.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge partnered with Wilderness Inquiry to provide the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure program for 6th graders attending Vista View Elementary. - Photo Credit: n/a
Participants observed wildlife, including bald eagles while paddling on the Minnesota River.
Participants observed wildlife, including bald eagles while paddling on the Minnesota River. - Photo Credit: n/a

What if a national wildlife refuge, an outdoor adventure outfitter, and an elementary school collaborated to create an urban oasis where youth gathered to steep in the beauty of the river, rich cultural history and view their community through a new lens? This creation happened at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in the fall of 2013.

More than 60 sixth graders from Vista View Elementary in Burnsville, Minnesota paddled the Minnesota River with Wilderness Inquiry to experience the urban wilderness in their backyard. Wilderness Inquiry has been offering the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures, an outdoor canoe program focused on getting Twin Cities youth on the Mississippi River, for several years. This was the first time Wilderness Inquiry portage the program to the Minnesota River, partnering with the refuge.

Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures provided the students, as well as school and refuge staff with paddle equipment, canoe instruction, and environmental education during the trip. Participants were able to learn how the landscape influenced Native American and European settlement along the Minnesota River and provide opportunities to observe wildlife while introducing an outdoor recreation activity to encourage an active lifestyle outdoors.

Refuge Visitor Services Specialists Suzanne Trapp and Judy Geck initiated this opportunity and hope that this day on the river is just the beginning.

You can learn more about the program by visiting: http://www.urbanwildernesscanoeadventures.org

Contact Info: Mara Koenig, 952/858.0710, mara_koenig@fws.gov