Last Tuesday and Wednesday, 488 Boston-area youth from ten different schools and youth programs joined Canoemobile for water- and land-based educational activities on the scenic Mystic and Neponset rivers. Seventeen local, regional, and federal organizations partnered with Wilderness Inquiry to make Canoemobile’s first visit to Massachusetts a huge success.
Special thanks to RBC Wealth Management-U.S. for their support of Canoemobile.
In Somerville, students from six schools and youth programs ranging from ages 8-17 met at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse to explore the historic Mystic River. While many of the students had spent their whole lives along the river, most had never been on the water before. Fear and hesitation quickly gave way to laughter and smiles as the students paddled alongside swans, cormorants, and great blue herons.
On land, students learned about the Mystic River’s historical significance in the Battle of Bunker Hill from National Park Rangers, examined water samples with Environmental Protection Agency researchers, and got a chance to create works of art in the Multi-Use Somerville Arts Community Transport (MUSCRAT) bus.
Local civic leaders Senator Pat Jehlen, Alderman Tony LaFuente, Congressmen Mike Capuano, and Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone stopped by to observe Canoemobile in action. Congressmen Capuano told students about spending his youth swimming in the Mystic River and how enjoying the river is a time-honored part of being a Somerville resident.
Laura Hendsbee, a local who frequents the park and whose alma mater was out paddling, talked to staff about how pleased she was to see youth being engaged in their local parks, working together as a team, learning about themselves, and experiencing the beautiful river in their own backyard.
The successful day was captured by The Somerville Times. It was an honor to serve so many great kids during our time in Somerville.
In Boston, students from four different schools and youth programs joined us at the DCR Neponset Park to paddle underneath the Granite Avenue Bridge and explore the surrounding wetlands. The juxtaposition of a major interstate built over the Neponset River while paddling on the river connected the kids and adults with one of the most underutilized rivers in Boston.
On land, the students had the opportunity to bird watch with Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center, participate in team building activities with Appalachian Mountain Club, and find a moment of peace doing nature-themed yoga with the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. Adrianna Cillo, the Educational Programs Coordinator at Boston Water and Sewer Commission, taught youth about how water moves within the Neponset River watershed and how stormwater affects citizens. National Park Service rangers from Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area led students through a nature journal exercise that utilized local artifacts from the Harbor Islands.
Local partners, politicians, community members, and students are all eagerly awaiting Canoemobile’s return come 2016!
Funding and local assistance provided by NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. Hosted by Groundwork Somerville and YMCA Boston. Special thanks our other partners: Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston National Historic Park, Boston Water and Sewer Commission, City of Somerville, Environmental Protection Agency, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, National Park Service, NPS Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, NPS Northeast Regional History Program, Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Boston Nature Center, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Mystic River Watershed Association, Somerville Arts Council, US Forest Service.
Thank you so much for helping put together two educational and fun days in Boston and Somerville! I am so impressed and floored at how well our first year went! We had 488 kids come out over both days, 10 schools and youth programs, and 18 partners to make this happen. The teachers were thrilled and are excited to come back next year.” – Rani Jacobson, Community Assistance Fellow, National Park Service