Each fall and spring, our popular Canoemobile “floating classroom” hits the road to bring Wilderness Inquiry’s mission to life across the county.
Through our fall tour, Canoemobile traveled to more than 35 communities across the Midwest, East Coast, and South, engaging 10,000+ youth, families, and community members in accessible water-based learning and recreation opportunities right on their local waterways.
Canoemobile’s success is directly attributed to the many engaged and eager participants, dedicated local and national partners and funders, and committed Outdoor Leaders who help bring environmental learning and connection to each city.
From International Falls to St. Louis and the Bronx to Atlanta, thousands of students, families, and community members paddled with us this fall – with 80% of participants noting it as their first time paddling in a canoe. During a stop in Passaic, NJ, one participant stated that he had “lived there his whole life and never thought he would be out on a boat in the Passaic.”
In Atlanta, GA, elementary students paddled on the Chattahoochee River and participated in hands-on learning stations about local ecosystems and wildlife – including snakes!
In the Bronx, NY, 500+ students learned about available green spaces within the city as they floated on the Harlem River and Van Cortlandt Lake.
And in East Grand Forks, MN, middle and high school students participated in Canoemobile as part of the International Water Institute’s River Watch watershed education program.
Canoemobile was also a popular feature at many community events, including offering free canoe rides during a celebration for Public Lands Day on Rainy Lake in Voyageurs National Park and at Albatwitch Day at Columbia River Park in Pennsylvania.
Strong partnerships with key organizations are critical to Canoemobile’s success and impact in each city. Longtime partners, as well those working with us for the first time, provide valuable community insight, expertise, and support that make our work possible.
This fall, through our deep partnership with the U.S. Forest Service – Urban Connections program, Canoemobile traveled to St. Louis, MO, to provide young adults in Job Corps an immersive outdoor experience for the first time ever in Mark Twain National Forest.
Support from the U.S. Forest Service also helped Canoemobile return to Detroit after being away for several years. One partner with the Belle Isle Nature Center in Detroit commented, “I’m new to Michigan and at the Nature Center and got to experience some great partnerships. It was so much fun! Can’t wait to do it again. I loved seeing kids enjoying being on the canoe and enjoying the macros. It was science and canoe combined!”
In Lancaster, PA, our longtime partnership with the National Park Service and Susquehanna Heritage Area helped Canoemobile connect with 600+ students as they explored and paddled on the Susquehanna River.
During the final stretch of the fall tour, Canoemobile spent two weeks in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. Support from the National Park Trust helped Canoemobile engage community members in programs that stretched along the banks of the Anacostia River in D.C. to Gunpowder River in Baltimore.
Amazing Outdoor Leaders
Working alongside the many partner organizations was an amazing team of Canoemobile Outdoor Leaders, who joined Wilderness Inquiry from Alaska, Washington, California, Indiana, and Minnesota.
Traveling city-to-city, week-after-week, Outdoor Leaders set out across the country in five “rigs” that each hauled six, 24-foot North canoes and a trailer filled to the brim with all the necessary gear for on-the-road programs. Crews spent anywhere from 2-8 weeks on the road – living and working together and witnessing the impact of a shared outdoor adventure.
When thinking back on why they joined Canoemobile, one leader recounted, “I joined Canoemobile to help expose youth to their local waterways. To help create a positive first-time experience boating, an activity that for me has been a joy, been a refuge, and provided me with community.”
And when asked about their favorite moments while on tour, leaders across rigs consistently highlighted the communities they visited, the participants they connected with, and the memories they made along the way.
We took countless folks out on the water who were downright scared to get into a canoe. It’s often those who are most apprehensive that are most enthusiastic during and after the paddle. It’s humbling to be a part of that experience for someone else.”
Canoemobile by the Numbers
10,000+ People served
35+ Communities engaged
45+ Partner organizations
122 Program events
34 Waterways paddled
11 States traveled
8 Weeks on the road
30 North canoes
35 Outdoor Leaders
The 2022 fall Canoemobile tour would not be possible without the incredible support and teamwork of partners and funders across the country, including the following key organizations:
- Bureau of Land Management
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- National Park Foundation
- National Park Service
- National Park Trust
- National Recreation Foundation
- Nature Valley
- Outdoor Foundation
- Thomson Reuters
- Urban Waters Federal Partnership
- USDA Forest Service – #FSUrbanConnections
- Winnebago Industries Foundation
For Canoemobile in Minnesota:
- STEM-based learning is funded in part by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR)
- History and culture-based learning is funded in part by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment
Canoemobile in the News
- Paddle, Picnic, Play at Voyageurs National Park on Public Lands Day, Sept. 24, 2022 – National Park Service, Sept. 9
- Paddlers try skills on Trail Creek – Northwest Indian Times, Sept. 24
- Paddling opportunities in 10-person ‘North Canoes’ on tap in Moorhead, East Grand Forks and Thief River Falls – Grand Forks Herald, Sept. 27
- Canoemobile brings outdoor classroom to town – The Timberjay, Oct. 5
- A ‘floating classroom’: Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile brings paddling opportunities to East Grand Forks – Grand Forks Herald, Oct. 10
- Closing Michigan’s ‘adventure gap’: Floating classroom gets hundreds of students out on the water – Metro Mode – Metro Detroit, Oct. 13
- Canoemobile returns to Rochester elementary school – KAAL TV Channel 6, Oct. 19
- For students at southeast D.C. school, an adventure on the Anacostia – Washington Post, Oct. 22
- Wilderness Inquiry gives canoeing novices a chance to explore Passaic River – Northjersey.com, Oct. 23
- Passaic residents get first hand experience in canoeing – Northjersey.com, Oct. 23
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