St. Louis RIVER QUEST adventures captured in Winning Essay

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Duluth, Minn. USA - Congratulations to Paul Foldesi, sixth grade student at St. James Catholic School, for being named the 2011 winner of the Captain Ray Skelton River Quest Essay Contest. His teacher (Nadine Uremovich), his parents and classmates were on hand today for the surprise presentation of the award - which included a "traveling plaque," that will remain on display at the school throughout this next academic year. For winning the contest, Paul and his family also received a gift bag that included certificates to several area attractions. 

Here are excerpts from his winning composition:        

"My favorite (learning) stations were about hypothermia, rip currents and lifejackets, oil spills, and invasive species...

Rip currents are a big problem for people, and oil spills are a big problem for marine animals. When oil spills occur, the Coast Guard uses big floatable pads that suck up oil from the water, or they use booms that surround the oil. Then the Coast guard sucks the oil up with a vacuum...

Not only oil spills are bad for marine animals, but invasive species are also bad. They can destroy whole habitats! Invasive species usually do not have a predator, so their population grows very fast and takes over. We need to prevent invasive species. I can do this by:  cleaning my boat, reporting any non-native species to local DNR, and not releasing any live bait into the wild. If I try to prevent invasive species, I am doing my part to save our lakes and rivers!" 

St. Louis River Quest was created in 1993 to provide hands-on learning experiences for students that enhance their awareness and understanding of the St. Louis River ecosystem and interrelated commercial, industrial, and recreational activities.

The Essay Contest, now in its fourth year, was named in memory of Captain Ray Skelton - one of the program's founders, a master mariner, and longtime Duluth Seaway Port Authority staff member.  Previous River Quest Essay Contest winners include:  2008 - Lauren Johnson, Ordean Middle School; 2009 - Pentti Hanlon, Marshall School; and 2010 - Eleanor "Ellie" French,  Woodland Middle School. 


Nearly 1,000 students from 11 area schools participated in River Quest this year during harbor cruises aboard the Vista Star in early May. These groups of sixth graders learned all they could about the St. Louis River ecosystem at stations staffed by volunteers who covered topics ranging from pollution prevention and stopping aquatic invaders to boating safety and commercial shipping. 

Over 15,000 students have participated in River Quest since its inception in 1993. Financial sponsorship for River Quest 2011 was provided by:  the Vista Fleet, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Marine Tech, Minnesota Power Foundation, Sappi Fine Paper, US Army Corps of Engineers, Hallett Dock Co., Midwest Energy Resources Co., Allouez Marine, Gavilon, and Grandma's Restaurant Co.

For more information about River Quest, to see the variety of classroom materials, and to read Foldesi's full-length essay, visit

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