Environmental education for young people and families goes to a whole new level when those classes happen in a venue as inspiring as Williamsport's Hiawatha Paddleboat as it works down the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
“No day is ever the same, so all learning experiences are varied,” said Hiawatha boat captain Mike Strunk. “You get to experience the watershed in person, and being on board the Hiawatha is something you just can’t experience online.”
The 2021 Floating Classroom series, provided by the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, is set with six unique sessions planned later this summer.
Classes will be held on July 6, Aug. 3, Aug. 10, Aug. 17, Sept. 7 and Sept. 21 -- all Tuesdays -- from 10-11 a.m.
We attempt to keep costs as minimal as possible for families. The first child registered per family under the age of 18 is $10 for the hour-long educational cruise. Each additional young person (under 18) is $8. Tickets for an adult attending with a young person is $5 and children two and under are free (but a ticket is still required). Spots for each cruise are limited, and secured on a first-registered, first-served process.
Themes and presenters for this year's program include:
JULY 6: MIND YOUR MACROS
Representatives of the Alliance of Aquatic Resource Management (ALLARM) out of Dickinson College will provide an overview session on common Macroinvertebrates from throughout our watershed. These include mayflies, stoneflies, crayfish and much more. Live and preserved examples, hands-on programming. Purchase tickets now by clicking here.
AUGUST 3: SNAKES & SONGS ON THE SUSQUEHANNA
A local snake expert will provide a session for families on one level of the Hiawatha while musician KJ Reimensnyder-Wagner provides songs on the other. Both groups will rotate so everyone gets the full experience. Purchase tickets now by clicking here.
AUGUST 10: COMMON FISH SPECIES & THREATS
Local Master Naturalist Jon Beam, along with representatives of the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission, will present a session focusing on identifying common fish species, what makes each unique and learning about threats they face. Purchase tickets now by clicking here.
AUGUST 17: HISTORY ABOARD THE HIAWATHA
Renowned local educator, historian and musician Van Wagner teams up with Susquehanna Jack, a frontier ruffian portrayed by historian John Moore in this entertaining yet educational program looking at the river's rich history and the lessons we should learn from it. Purchase tickets now by clicking here.
SEPTEMBER 7: AMPHIBIANS OF THE WATERSHED
Renowned hellbender researcher and advocate Dr. Peter Petokas headlines a float focused on the various amphibians found in the region, with a focus on the hellbender and recent efforts to protect it. Purchase tickets now by clicking here.
SEPTEMBER 21: MICROPLASTIC CONCERNS
This float digs into the growing microplastic issue within our waterways, looking at the science behind the detection of this pollution by Dr. Jon Niles and students from the Susquehanna University's Freshwater Institute. Included will be tips on how to cut back on the microplastics we produce. Purchase tickets now by clicking here.
For more information and important updates about the Floating Classroom program as we get closer to each class, visit our Floating Classroom landing page.
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.