20th annual St. Louis River Quest sets sail May 14-17 in Port of Duluth-Superior

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012

Waterfront partners celebrate 20 years of investing in outreach to youth, deepening channels of knowledge about the St. Louis River ecosystem

Duluth, Minn. USA - Nearly 1,200 area sixth-graders will participate in St. Louis River Quest next week, May 14-17. This year marks a 20-year milestone in waterfront history; it was 1993 when a group of forward-thinking business leaders and waterfront companies created this unique educational outreach program. By the time this year's session winds up, River Quest will have served more than 16,000 students in the greater Duluth-Superior since its inception.

Small groups of students stop for ten minutes at each of 12 hands-on learning stations where presenters have prepared experiments and displays covering everything from pollution prevention, soil conservation, river cleanup and maritime commerce to boating/water safety, fish habitats and preventing aquatic invasive species. Teachers are given resource materials to use in advance and in follow-up work in the classroom. After the event, students are encouraged to submit essays about their experiences for the Capt. Ray Skelton River Quest Essay Contest, named after one of the program's founders.

The 20th annual St. Louis River Quest is set for May 14-17 but with a new twist this year: students will participate in six learning stations aboard the Vista Star harbor excursion boat, and then "switch" venues to take in six additional stations in Pioneer Hall at the DECC. The River Quest planning committee opted to expand the program for 2012 to include a landside venue - not only to celebrate its 20-year milestone, but, more important, to accommodate 250 additional students - a 25% increase in participation thanks to support provided by a host of local sponsors (listed below).

Today, supported by nearly 40 public and private organizations concerned with the proper use and preservation of the St. Louis River estuary, River Quest will involve 1,191 sixth-graders from 13 schools, 40 educators, and as many as 100 volunteers this year alone.

"It isn't often, you find an educational outreach program so unique to still be in existence after 20 years, let alone be continuing to evolve and expand," noted Adele Yorde, Port Authority public relations manager and current River Quest coordinator. "We honor those visionaries who created this program in the first place and express our deep gratitude to the organizations who continue to so generously sponsor the program and remain an integral part of River Quest's leadership team."

"Helping to Clean America's Rivers"
To kickoff River Quest's anniversary week on Monday, May 14, one of the program's sponsors, Sappi Fine Paper, is hosting a presentation at 7:15 p.m. in the DECC Gooseberry Falls Room by nationally acclaimed champion of environmental stewardship Chad Pregracke, founder and president of Living Lands & Waters, a nonprofit he launched at age 23 to clean up America's rivers. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited; people are encouraged to arrive early and tour the River Quest learning stations in Pioneer Hall at 6:45.

As founder of America's only "industrial-strength" river cleanup organization, Pregracke will share a compelling, funny story about growing up on the river and how his experiences led to his unique vision to clean up the Mississippi. His entertaining remarks leave audiences with a clear understanding that each person's actions truly make a difference in cleaning up our nation's rivers.

Pregracke's vision, charisma, non-stop work ethic and natural leadership have garnered him an abundance of awards and honors over the years. Notably, he was the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, America's version of the Nobel Prize, in June 2002. He accepted this award in the United States Supreme Court with other award recipients: Rudolph Giuliani, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Lilly Tartikoff. Most recently, he had the honor of speaking to the four living former presidents of the U.S. at the Points of Light Tribute in Washington D.C. in March 2011.

2012 River Quest Donors
Financial support for this year's program provided by:

(Platinum $1,000+)
Duluth Public Schools, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Holcim (US) Inc., Sappi Fine Paper, Vista Fleet

(Gold $500+)
Marine Tech, Minnesota Power, Minnesota Sea Grant Program, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District

(Silver $250+)
Calumet Superior LLC, Fraser Shipyards, Gavilon Grain, Hallett Dock Co., Midwest Energy Resources Co., NewPage, Subway

(Bronze $100+)
Allouez Marine, Grandma's Restaurant Co.

(Steel $50+)
National Bank of Commerce

River Quest 2012 Learning Station Topics & Sponsors:

Onboard the Vista Star

"Cold Hand Luke" Hypothermia & Water Safety
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Fish Families
Great Lakes Aquarium & MN DNR MinnAqua Program

It floats, you don't. Wear your life jacket!
Duluth Sail & Power Squadron

What is the Es-chew-air-ee?
Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR)

Get Habitattitude!
Minnesota Sea Grant Program

Break the Grip of the Rip
Twin Ports Rip Currents

DECC Pioneer Hall

What is the difference between Storm & Sanitary Sewers?
City of Duluth Utility Operations (M,T)

Pollution & the River Watershed
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (W,Th)

Bacteria: The Real Workers at WLSSD
Western Lake Superior Sanitation District

Sustainable Forestry
NewPage (M,T)

Great Lakes Cargo Capital
Duluth Seaway Port Authority (W,Th)

Living Lands & Waters
Sappi Fine Paper

Oil Spill Cleanup
U.S. Coast Guard & USCG Auxiliary

Stream Table
USDA Forest Service-Superior National Forest

Contact: Adele Yorde, River Quest Coordinator/Port Authority PR Manager, 218.727.8525 or 218.390.6973



River Quest home page on MN Sea Grant site

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