St. Catherine Canoes Begin Their Journey

Ellie Boese/Times-Record St. Catherine School’s Mrs. Ihry joins the students and launches her canoe into Sheyenne River.
TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Ellie Boese
As part of the International Water Institute’s (IWS) River of Dreams program, Mrs. Ihry’s 5th grade class at St. Catherine Elementary School launched their decorated 14” cedar canoes into the Sheyenne River on May 16th, sending them on their journey downstream. IWS’ Danielle Yaste joined the students to see their floating vessels off.
The IWS is a nonprofit organization that, in addition to its educational programming, was created to cultivate watershed stewardship through leadership, environmental monitoring, and education programming.
River of Dreams provides students with a deeper understanding of watershed and river flows. Rather than walking by their city’s river and seeing only what is in their own area, students learn where their local rivers flow, how they contribute to larger bodies of water. The IWI begins the program with participating students reading Holling C. Holling’s 1941 “Paddle-to-the-Sea.”
“They then collect water quality data, explore rivers from the seat of a kayak, identify macroinvertebrates, and share information with their peers,” the IWS says.
Students get to decorate a canoe, which is marked with an ID number that allows its movement to be tracked, and write a dream for its journey down the river in which it’s launched.
The IWS creates a web page for every canoe, including its launch location and date, and a photo of the canoe and its story, allowing residents along the canoes’ paths to log their sighting online, where the students can then see how far their projects have traveled.
To make this unique program possible for St. Catherine students, Barnes County Water Resource District, as a member of the Red River Joint Water Resource District, provided its funding.
The IWS states that the River of Dreams Basin-wide Education program “reached 1,200 students at 32 schools across the Red River Basin this year,” and has reached many more in its 24 years of existence.” Right now, 26 River Watch teams with over 300 students are active throughout the Red River Basin.
For those on the lookout for St. Catherine’s 5th Grade class’ canoes, area residents can log into the IWS database by following its instructions and entering the canoes ID number. You can also check out the decorated canoes, students’ written dream stories and the locations each canoe has been recorded on