Canoemobile to Introduce 4,500 Northwest Indiana Students to their Local Waterways

Dunes-Learning-Center-LogoMore than 4,500 students from 5 Northwest Indiana communities will spend an unforgettable hour learning about their local watershed from the seat of a Voyageur canoe, thanks to funding from the National Park Service and a slew of local partnerships.

Staffed by Minnesota-based Wilderness Inquiry educators, the Canoemobile is described as a roving fleet of 24’ canoes traveling across America to bring environmental literacy to urban youth. The program has introduced students in 25 cities to their urban waterways. For many, the experience is a significant milestone.

“The looks on the kids’ faces is so rewarding,” says Dunes Learning Center executive director, Geof Benson. “They get to learn about ecology and science in a way that is compelling, engaging and relevant, which makes them more successful. You can see how proud and excited they are as they get out of the boat. Students leave the experience more confident and ready to learn. That’s why we do it.”

The opportunity is being made available to classrooms many who are participating in Mighty Acorns®, a STEM-based outreach program that engages students through hands-on learning and stewardship experiences. The water-based adventure makes a big impression on both students and educators.

As part of the program, Dunes Learning Center is hosting a community canoe event on Saturday, October 3 at The Pavilion at Wolf Lake in Hammond, IN. The public is invited to learn basic paddling skills and experience their local watershed from the seat of a 24-foot Voyageur canoe. Wilderness Inquiry educators will captain each canoe, which seats up to 12 people. Trips take approximately one hour and depart from the pavilion docks. No experience is necessary and people of all ages and abilities are invited. All safety equipment is included. The event is free, but advance registration is recommended. To learn more, visit

Made possible by funding from the National Park Service and program partners: Hammond Port Authority, Gary Parks Department, Gary Community School Corporation, School City of Hammond, School City of East Chicago, School City of Hobart, Hobart Parks Department, Hobart Stormwater Management District, City of Hobart, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, ArcelorMittal, Foundations of East Chicago, LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District, Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, Trail Creek Watershed Partnership, Michigan City Sanitary District, Michigan City Area Schools, Michigan City Port Authority, Michigan City Enrichment Corporation, Michigan City Parks & Recreation Department, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Gary Stormwater Management District, Field Museum, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Legacy Foundation, DOI-VISTA and the Urban Waters Partnership.