Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Floating Classroom

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit one very unique classroom.  In fact, I kind of insisted on seeing it for myself after receiving a phone call from Mike Coyne-Logan, crewman, who was inquiring if we would be able to have a few of our educational programs at their site. 

Mike explained to me that this was a “floating classroom” that was on a barge.  This led to multiple questions, which would clearly best be answered on site and in person.  We coordinated schedules for when the barge would be located close to our area and met up in Alton, Illinois.  This began my introduction to an organization that WBS wants to collaborate with for many years to come.
Exterior of the floating classroom which is built from recycled materials 
This floating classroom, which was built from recycled materials in 2011, is the pride of the not for profit company Living Lands & Waters.  It was constructed to be as eco-friendly as possible, with solar panels and a wind turbine to conserve diesel fuel.  This organization shares a mission that lines right up along with ours at WBS. 
Hard to believe this classroom was constructed entirely from reclaimed materials
Their Mission:

To aid in the protection, preservation and restoration of the natural environment of the nations’ major rivers and their watersheds.

To expand awareness of environmental issues and responsibility encompassing the river.
To create a desire and an opportunity for stewardship and responsibility for a cleaner river environment.

In layman’s terms, this group travels up and down the Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and coordinates clean ups with volunteers, collecting literally thousands of tons of garbage.  They also work to educate people about the environment and our watersheds.

I had never heard of their organization before that first phone call.  When I visited their floating classroom, I was truly blown away.  I saw with my own eyes the impact that they are having, from the awesome construction and creative use of recycled materials for the classroom, to the literal tons of garbage that was being collected from our own back yard.
This mountain of garbage was pulled from our river in just two weeks
I stood there looking at the amount of garbage that had been pulled out of the river in a two-week time frame, in sheer amazement and disbelief.  In that very moment an adult Bald Eagle soared just a few feet above our heads, so close that we were able to identify the large fish he carried in his talons as a silver carp.  I literally got goose bumps and declared that the Bald Eagle flying over had to have been a sign.  We are really looking forward to working with Living Lands & Waters. 

Visit their website at to learn more about what they do and to see how you can get involved in the cleanup efforts.  You can also find them on Facebook under Living Lands and Waters.

Submitted by Billie Baumann, World Bird Sanctuary Outreach Coordinator

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