Watershed Education and Recreation in the Red River Basin
The International Water Institute (IWI) was formed following the 1997 Red River of the North flood to facilitate research, public education, training, and information dissemination relating to flood damage reduction and water resource protection & enhancement in the Red River Basin. The Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization governed by an international Board of Directors.
Educational programs include River Watch, River Explorers, and River of Dreams.
- River Watch engages high school students in monitoring the health of local watersheds alongside watershed district staff and River Watch personnel. Since 1995 the program has gathered data from more than 10,000 site visits and currently reaches 20 schools in Minnesota and 5 in North Dakota. At the annual River Watch Forum, students bring local data and research findings to a wider audience and are made aware of projects and natural resource happenings throughout the Red River Basin - and beyond.
- River Explorers provides River Watch teams the chance to make hands-on connections to local watersheds by joining IWI staff and resource managers on kayak paddling excursions. River trips teach students about hydrology, river geomorphology, and biological, physical, and chemical relationships at play in a given watershed. Next generation natural resource managers are likely to be those interested in and passionate about their local resources, which we hope to inspire through paddling trips. Paddling is also a good exercise and lifelong sport in which anyone can participate.
- River of Dreams introduces 4-5th grade students to the connectivity of our planet’s water supply and the Red River Basin’s ultimate outlet: Hudson Bay. The program begins with the 1941 children’s classic “Paddle-to-the-Sea,” by Holling C. Holling, prior to in-class lessons and activities with IWI staff. Participants test their creativity by writing a dream (poem or short story) and decorating a 14” cedar canoe for a river launch. Students track canoe progress using riverofdreams.org to keep tabs on downstream sightings.