As the riverboat pushes upstream, a student excitedly points out an eagle sitting on a branch overhanging the Mississippi River. A volunteer explains how eagles are adapted to a river environment and the student tells a friend how the talons can grip a fish snatched from the river. On the boat’s upper level students compare their samples of sedimentary rock to the rock in the towering river bluffs passing above.
These experiences are not unusual for 4th-6th grade students on the award-winning Big River Journey. Using the Mississippi River to connect students to science, Big River Journey has reached thousands of students over the past 13 years and volunteers have played a very big role in that success.
Volunteers assist presenters from the National Park Service, the Science Museum of Minnesota, Adopt-a-River program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Padelford Boat Company staff. They help make those one-on-one and small group experiences possible and provide a quality learning environment for eager students on their great adventure.
Volunteers report a very high level of personal satisfaction as they help excited students, many on a boat for the first time, overcome their fears of the river, to help them unlock a tiny world of macroinvertebrate insects, to observe magnificent birds, and to appreciate the significance of this great river.
Volunteers, such as Nete Temali, look forward to each spring and fall when Big River Journey introduces the Mississippi River to a new group of students.
Is this volunteer opportunity for you? Come on aboard!