Fifth grade students from Roosevelt Elementary launched hand-decorated, trackable, 14-inch canoes into the Pelican River on May 28 as part of the River of Dreams program.

A web page is created for each canoe, which includes the date and location of launch along with a picture of the canoe and a “dream” story for its river journey, written by students.

Canoes found by area residents can be logged into an online database by following the instructions and recording the unique ID numbers that accompany each canoe. View decorated canoes, read dream stories, report a finding and see where they've been discovered at riverofdreams.org.

An effort of the International Water Institute, the River of Dreams program engages students to better understand their watershed through reading, writing, art and geography. They take virtual tours of their watershed, see where their local river flows, and visualize its watershed before decorating and launching their own miniature canoes.

They are able to imagine their canoes flowing downstream and learn river terms such as headwaters, tributary, confluence, and mouth.

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Roosevelt Elementary fifth grade students launched River of Dreams canoes into the Pelican River on May 28. (Submitted Photo)
Roosevelt Elementary fifth grade students launched River of Dreams canoes into the Pelican River on May 28. (Submitted Photo)

Funding for the program is provided by the Clean Water Legacy Fund along with a local match from the Red River Watershed Management Board.

River of Dreams reached over 1,200 students at 32 schools across the Red River Basin this past year. The program starts with each classroom reading, "Paddle-to-the-Sea," by Holling C. Holling, which follows a small canoe on its own river journey with the dream of paddling to the sea.

The International Water Institute’s related River Watch program has been active in Red River Basin high schools since 1995. River Watch students collect water quality data, explore rivers from the seat of a kayak, identify macroinvertebrates, and share information with their peers. Currently there are 26 active River Watch teams and more than 300 River Watch students in the Red River Basin.

The International Water Institute is a nonprofit organization formed to foster watershed stewardship through leadership in decision support, environmental monitoring and education programming.