This article was originally published in the Gasconade County Republican on Wednesday, August 31.
By Dave Marner
Plans for a “learning festival” based along, and on the Missouri River, for county high school and middle school students are being finalized as Missouri River Relief prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary of cleaning the “Big Muddy.”
Students from Owensville High School, Owensville Middle School, the Hermann school district, and St. George, have been invited to attend separate day-long programs based on shore and on the Living Lands and Waters garbage barge River Relief will be using as the group travels down river from Jefferson City to St. Charles during October. Missouri River Relief is a Missouri Stream Team member based in Columbia, Mo., which has conducted large-scale cleanups from Yankton, S.D, to the mouth of the Missouri where it meets the Mississippi River. Students and faculty chaperones will have the chance to participate in several stations of land-based educational programs presented by professionals from the various agencies assisting River Relief staff.
Staff from the Gasconade and Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and the Farm Service Agency are scheduled to be participating in the program.
With river levels expected to drop over the next month, River Relief is also planning to have water-based learning stations which could include instruction on aquatics, biology, and water quality issues.
School administrators discussed curriculum issues with Barrow and the agency representatives planning to participate in an effort to design learning experiences which will match up with each school’s educational programs.
“This is exciting,” said Barrow who was making his second planning trip to Owensville for the project. He also met last Thursday with school officials in Hermann. “I’m really excited.”
“Our teachers are really looking forward to this,” said Kurt Keller, principal at OHS.
Part of the experience will include the chance for students to help clean a section of the river’s shoreline under the supervision of trained MRR personnel. That aspect of the experience was something Teresa Ragan, principal at OMS, would strongly support. “Service learning gives something back to the community,” said Ragan.
OHS students are scheduled to attend the festival on Tuesday, Oct. 4, OMS attends Wednesday, Oct. 5, and Hermann students are invited on Thursday, Oct. 6.