Youth Kayaking River Expedition

This on-the-water classroom puts local youth on the Catawba at Lake Wylie to learn about water quality and the origin of drinking water.

YKRE Participants

On Friday, June 5, 2009 the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation (CRF) launched its newest program –Youth Kayaking River Expedition (YKRE).  On-the-water classes will be held each Friday afternoon and Saturday morning through September on Lake Wylie in Belmont.

Community outreach and education – key components of our Youth Kayak River Expedition program (YKRE) – play a vital role in helping us achieve our mission.  The goal of the program is to reach 200 youth by September 1, 2009 with a message of water conservation and natural protection. The YKRE program will provide a hands-on opportunity for students to see how their drinking water at home is directly related to the water in the Catawba River system.

“This is especially critical when so many of these young people think the source of their drinking water is the faucet in their kitchen,” said Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman. “We plan to bridge the connection of our daily lives and the natural environment with this YKRE program.”

“At the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, we believe that nature is our most precious resource and our most exciting classroom,” continued Merryman.  “Encouraging young people to explore and enjoy the beauty, wonder and power of their natural surroundings can inspire a better appreciation for the vital role our environment plays in the future health of our planet and all of its inhabitants.  Our environment is their inheritance, and young people have proven that they can be powerful forces of change.” 

The program will begin with a thirty minute safety presentation.  Students will then launch their boats into the river.  During the class, participants will begin to understand how pollution sources can affect the lake and the river and how they and their families can take actions to protect our waterways.  These informed young people are the “caregivers of tomorrow”; they will be better stewards for the Catawba and other rivers and lakes as a result of their participation in the YKRE program.

“We will take students on voyages of discovery and help them understand the critical role that the Catawba plays in their daily lives and the lives of their families and friends,” explained Rick Gaskins, Executive Director for CRF.  “The link between our daily lives and clean water is made in a way that is both fun and highly educational.  The program also enhances the students’ confidence in kayaking, an activity that is a whole new experience for many of the participants.” 

CRF believes that the early learning experiences such as those that will be provided with the YKRE program will help students grow into informed adults who care for and understand the larger community in which they live and the importance of having healthy waterways for humans and wildlife.  The immediate goal is to teach these young people who are the future stewards of our natural resources, that they can make a difference in preserving the Catawba and its tributaries by helping them understand how they can protect their neighborhood streams from pollution and how they can conserve water.

The program will be a stepping stone with a future goal of moving young people from awareness into action.  With the successful completion of the Youth Kayak River Expedition program, students will receive a one year membership to the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, as a JuniorKeeper.  This will allow youth to become part of a bigger network of community members interested in water conservation, protection and advocacy.  They will receive updates on other programs such as the annual RiverSweep lake cleanup on Lake Wylie and have the opportunity to participate in these projects.  They will also receive monthly educational updates from the Catawba Riverkeeper, letting them know about issues that arise on the Catawba and how they can get out into the field to help.

Participation in the class is $20 for each student.  Scholarships are available by calling the CRF office. 

Courses offered at 3:00pm on Fridays- June 5, 12, 19; July 10, 17 and 31; and August 7, 21, and 28. Offered on Saturdays at 10:00am- June 6, 13, and 20; July 18; and August 1, 8, 22 and 29.


To register for a YKRE class, please contact Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman at 704-679-9494 or by email at



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Jan 25, 2017 NC Riverkeeper Report
From the perspectives of 12 NC Riverkeepers, this report discusses how multiple environmental issues pose challenges in the pursuit of clean, plentiful water. Whether you are in North Carolina or downstream in South Carolina, read this report about the state of environmental enforcement.
Dec 13, 2016 Community Foundation of Gaston County grants $5,000 to CRF for Riverkeeper Program
The Community Foundation will fund Catawba Riverkeeper's work in Gaston County.
Dec 12, 2016 A Successful Launch of our Water Education Program at Great Falls Elementary
Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in partnership with 4-H Clemson Cooperative Extension successfully completed our pilot Education Outreach Program with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students from Great Falls Elementary.
Sep 27, 2016 Lake Wateree Fall Cleanup a Sweeping Success
86 volunteers collected 5,490 pounds of trash from Lake Wateree
Jun 13, 2016 Dozens of Youth Reached in Water Education Outreach Program Pilot Lessons
More news…
Report Pollution in the Catawba River

Help protect your River! 

Tell your Riverkeeper if you see:

  • Sewage Overflows
  • Failure to control sediment from construction sites
  • Illegal clearing of buffer areas
  • Fish kills 
  • Unpermitted discharges
  • Other issues that concern you

Click here to fill out a pollution report or to report water pollution to Catawba Riverkeeper by phone, call 1-888-679-9494 or 704-679-9494.  In addition, to informing your Riverkeeper, you should also report spills or contamination to federal, state and local environmental officials.

To report South Carolina water pollution call 1-888-481-0125.

To report North Carolina spills or fish kills, call your local regional Department of Environment & Natural Resources office during normal business hours (704-663-1699 for most Catawba basin areas or (828) 296-4500 for Burke, Caldwell, McDowell and other mountain counties) or 800-858-0368 after hours.  (For more information on NC spill reporting, click here)


The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is a proud member of EarthShare North Carolina, the North Carolina Conservation Network, River Network and the Waterkeeper Alliance.  It also in in an alliance with Clean Air Carolina to address issues, such as sprawl, that cause air and water problems.

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715 N. Church St., Suite 120 . Charlotte, NC 28202 . Phone: 704.679.9494 . Fax: 704.679.9559