1000 DC Students Expected to Participate in 3rd Annual Anacostia River Canoe Adventure

Date:   October 23, 2012
Contact:   Ed Stierli, Denning Landscape Conservation Fellow National Parks Conservation Association; C: 202-607-0788 Alison Heis, Media Relations Manager National Parks Conservation Association; C: 202.384.8762
Josh Garubanda, Program Manager, Wilderness Inquiry C: 612.481.9023

1000 DC Students Expected to Participate in 3rd Annual Anacostia River Canoe Adventure

(WASHINGTON, DC) – This week, nearly 1000 students from Washington, DC area schools will participate in canoeing the Anacostia River as a part of the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures (UWCA) Canoemobile program. The Canoemobile program is dedicated to connecting thousands of urban youth from cities across the country with educational outdoor experiences. Washington, DC is the last stop on the extensive road trip that has included seven cities and waterways, including the Skokie Lagoons in Chicago and the Harlem River in New York City. Partner groups hope that the program will encourage participants to be the next generation of stewards for the river, sparking a lasting commitment to protect and transform their local communities.

 “The Anacostia River has a rich history. American Indians used the river as a food source, for travel, and for trade. From colonial times on, the river was an artery for commerce, transportation, and recreation. In recent decades, these activities have shifted away from the river. The Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures program will allow students and residents to reconnect with the Anacostia River; to learn about this rich history; and possibly gain a new perspective of this natural treasure that runs through the community,” said Peter Lonsway from the National Capital Parks-East, National Park Service.

The week-long event includes10 half-day paddling experiences down the Anacostia River, from October 23-27, and aims to inspire students to reconnect with the river and to seek opportunities to serve, advocate, and lead a lasting, sustainable future for the river.  Participants will gain a better understanding of the challenges facing the river, neighboring communities, and the connecting natural landscape.

This week’s activities will supplement classroom lessons and educational materials that focus on sustainable living and the importance for protecting and enhancing the waters that are the lifeblood of our natural landscapes, including our national parks. “With more than 80 percent of the U.S. population living in urban areas, we must connect local students with the amazing natural landscapes that surround them, including the more than 50 national parks within the Chesapeake watershed,” said Ed Stierli, from the National Parks Conservation Association.

Wilderness Inquiry and the National Park Service’s (Mississippi National River and Recreation Area) selected Washington, DC as a premiere site for the nationwide rollout of the successful Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures (UWCA) program, which began in Minneapolis, MN in 2008. UWCA will demonstrate how the program can reach thousands of urban youth while facilitating interagency discussions around connecting 200,000 urban youth across the country to the outdoors every year.

“Engaging youth at an early age in outdoor education and recreation activities can lead to a series of long term benefits, which includes healthy lifestyles, a better understanding of the natural world, and an interest in pursuing careers in the outdoor industry,” said Cory Dahl from Wilderness Inquiry.  “The Canoemobile tour is a partnership program that serves the most valuable part of our future--young people. We are able to cast lines wide and serve larger groups of people when organizations collaboratively pull resources together.”

With its emphasis on physical activity and connection to the environment, the canoe adventure advances President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which calls for greater support for environmental and outdoor education and reconnecting Americans with nature. Goals include making outdoor experiences inviting, exciting, and fun while empowering youth to become more involved in the great outdoors.

The canoe adventure is a collaborative effort that involves a number of local and federal partners, including the National Park Service (National Capital Parks-East), Wilderness Inquiry, DC Department of Health, National Park Trust, US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington Parks & People, National Parks Conservation Association, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Washington Canoe Club, Earth Conservation Corps, Anacostia Watershed Society, and the Sierra Club’s Military Families and Veterans Initiative (MFVI).

Community members are invited and encouraged to join the canoe adventure on Saturday, October 27 from 10 a.m,–12 p.m. or 1-4 p.m. at Kenilworth Park Recreational Fields.



Click image above for download options via Flickr.  Photo credit: Keith Hyde, US Army Corps of Engineers



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