Detroit River Story Lab embarks on Skiff and Schooner program for second summer

Source: Michigan News

Detroit River Story Lab participants test out the rowboats they build on the Detroit River from Belle Isle. Credit: Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography.

The Detroit River Story Lab’s Skiff and Schooner Program is setting sail for its second summer, this time accommodating even more students in its quest to foster connection between the river and its communities. 

David Porter, faculty lead of the initiative and professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Michigan, is excited to expand the project after a successful pilot last summer. 

“The story of the Detroit River is the story of the ongoing cultural, environmental and economic transformation of our region,” Porter said. “Our schooner program aboard the tall ship Inland Seas will provide over 300 Detroit-area students the opportunity to experience the river’s beauty and bounty for themselves, and to explore its many-layered connections with their own lives and the lives of their local communities.”

The initiative has 15 three-hour education sails scheduled from June 23 to July 5. Students from 15 Detroit high schools, two colleges and six youth-serving organizations will board the schooner throughout the summer to learn about various topics focused on the environmental and cultural history of the Detroit river, ranging from marine biology and wildlife restoration to the Underground Railroad. 

Students will be taught by staff of the Suttons Bay Inland Seas Education Association, DNR’s Outdoor Adventure Center, U-M faculty and local experts. Between sails, the Inland Seas schooner will be docked near the lighthouse at Milliken State Park.

The Detroit River Story Lab and the Green Door Initiative received a grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to help fund this summer’s river-themed educational programming. Additional partners include the Charles Wright Museum, DNR’s Outdoor Adventure Center, Detroit Historical Society, Detroit River Project, Inland Seas Education Association and Riverside Marina.

While the Community Foundation’s support has enabled the Skiff and Schooner program to expand its offerings, participation this summer is limited to students in its partner organizations. Porter hopes to continue to grow the program and offer it to even more students in the years to come. 

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