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Teachers set sail with free workshops on Mississippi and St. Croix rivers

Teachers learning at Interstate State Park in Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of the St. Croix River Association

Angie Hong is an educator for East Metro Water. Contact her at 651-330-8220, ext. 35, or angie.hong@mnwcd.org.

"Backswimmer, scud, dragonfly nymph, water boatman, another water boatman..." My son had just woken up from a nap and stumbled bleary-eyed to a clearing near the Mississippi River where our group was peering intently at a bucket full of river water. Within seconds, he was rattling off the names of aquatic invertebrates we'd found, proud to share his knowledge with the families gathered. I could hear an excited murmur in the group as other children began to recognize differences in the shapes and movements of the critters as well.

"Can we do this at the pond near our house Dad? What do you think we'd find at the cabin up north?"

A host of research suggests that learning outdoors in nature supports creativity and problem solving, sparks curiosity, reduces symptoms of attention deficit disorder, promotes increased physical activity, reduces stress, and can improve children's academic performance and social relationship skills. Children will tell you something else that's equally important. Learning outdoors can be fun.

This summer, the St. Croix River Association and Hamline University are offering free workshops to help equip teachers with hands-on lessons and resources to get students outside and inspire them to learn. The workshops, which take place at parks along the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers, will provide educators with nature and water-themed curriculum and give them the opportunity to get on the water and have fun.

St. Croix River Association offers its Teachers on the River 2019 summer workshops in partnership with the National Park Service — St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. One-day workshops will be held:

• July 16 (kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers) or July 18 (sixth through 12th grades) at the Namekagon Visitor Center in Trego, Wis.

• July 23 or 25 at Wisconsin Interstate State Park

• July 30 or Aug. 1 at Willow River State Park

• Aug. 6 or 8 at St. Croix State Park

The workshops are scheduled 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the morning spent learning about the Rivers Are Alive program and classroom activities. The afternoon will be spent participating in an outdoor field trip that explores the woods and water. Teachers can also sign up to have Rivers Are Alive staff teach lessons and conduct field-trips with their students during the school year. Learn more and register at www.stcroixriverassociation.org.

Hamline University's Center for Global Environmental Education is offering three-day teacher workshops during its St. Croix River Institute (June 24-26) and Mississippi River Institute (July 22-24). These field-based, professional development workshops are designed for fourth through eighth grade teachers and science specialists. Teachers will practice using hands-on lessons and multimedia tools from the Waters to the Sea curriculum and will spend time outdoors and on the water as well. Participants will receive 21 continuing education credits, a free copy of the Waters to the Sea multimedia tool, the option to purchase a Project WET curriculum guide, and the option to purchase two graduate-level credits at a discounted rate. Learn more and register at www.hamline.edu/cgee/riversinstitute.

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