The Catawba Riverkeeper Environmental Education and Kayaking (CREEK) program teaches youth in the Catawba River basin about their watershed, its threats and how to protect it. Also, the program teaches children and teens basic water safety and kayaking skills.
In 2013, a university study identified the Catawba River as the most stressed river east of the Mississippi. Also that year, American Rivers named the Catawba the 5th most endangered river in the United States.
One of the Catawba's biggest threats is the lack of understanding about the impacts of our actions on our water supply. Many people do not connect the health of the River to the health of the economy and the people who depend on it for clean drinking water.
Simply put, if people do not know about the importance of the River, they will not protect it.
In 2008, CRF began a youth kayaking program. Over the past six years, it has evolved into our flagship education program.
The program teaches youth in the Catawba River basin about their watershed, its threats and how to protect it. Also, the program teaches children and teens basic water safety and kayaking skills.
About the Program
The first half of the program served kids in South Carolina and the second half served kids in North Carolina. Most participating groups in NC are Charlotte area Boys and Girls Clubs.
CRF designed the program to have two parts:
1) "Classroom" Session
CRF presents to youth groups at their meeting places, Landsford Canal State Park, or Tailrace Marina. The "classroom" presentation combines traditional lecture style teaching and hands-on water sampling. CRF staff and volunteers lead the youth to a nearby creek while encouraging them to think like scientists. Then the kids get to sample the water from the creek. The students see the results of their water testing a couple of days later.
2) On-the-water Session
CRF staff and volunteers teach the participants how to kayak in flat water. Participants also learn basic water safety skills that may save lives in open water accidents.
Why we continue to run the youth education and kayaking program:
Teaching children about their local environment will give them the knowledge they need to protect it. But CRF believes in more than just educating children. CRF gives kids the chance to walk and paddle through nature.
Connecting with nature inspires children and adults to protect our watershed.
Ultimately, the program participants learn to be better environmental stewards. One day, they will become the leaders of the region. And when that day comes, we hope they will make smart decisions that positively impact our water quality and quantity.
The J. Marion Sims Foundation, the African-American Community Foundation, and CRF members funded the 2016 program. Thank you to all the donors, volunteers, and partners who made this program possible.
Email email@example.com for details.