Source to Sea Literacy

You can read more about Source to Sea Literacy here.

Train the Trainer: Online Stewardship Program

Rivers for Change online stewardship training program is aimed at the paddle and raft guiding communities, this training focuses on increasing source to sea literacy, stewardship, and conservation.

Paddling and raft guides have an enormous opportunity to educate the general public about water and environmental issues. The course will offer a deep dive into source to sea thinking, and the challenges, opportunities, and solutions that we can all engage with. Equipped with specific knowledge and tools to engage clients about critical local issues the potential for positive change and environmental advocacy increases. Our pilot program will be launched with Sea Trek in order to certify all Sea Trek guides as Source to Sea Stewards. 

If you are interested in this training for your guides, paddling group, or any members of your community please contact danielle(@)

Source to Sea Educational Adventure

rivers for change banner

Aimed at training the next generation of environmental stewards, our Source to Sea Educational Adventure incorporates experiential learning through various activities such as river/beach cleanups, environmental curriculum, water safety, and of course paddling skills. It’s a fun and engaging way for kids to learn about source to sea literacy principles of how water is connected to all parts of their lives. From what they eat and drink, to what they wear it’s all interconnected through those drops of water. They learn about the natural history of the area, the tribal lands they are traveling through, how the river has changed over time and how the surrounding flora and fauna depend on the river as a resource. The larger watershed ecosystem becomes viscerally understood as they travel pre-selected sections of the river from source to sea. Students not only witness the change in the river as they travel downstream, but are able to engage with the various communities that live along and utilize the river. Making new friends, exploring a new place, and learning to fall in love with the natural environment are all ingredients to becoming environmental stewards of the future.

These educational adventures target students between the ages of 10-14 to train the next generation of stewards.

Throughout the journey, student ambassadors interact with numerous river and watershed stewardship agencies and partners. Each day they will learn about the unique ecological values of the river and watershed at that location, the risks to those values, and what river stewardship partners are doing to protect and restore those values. Up to three on-shore events will also be planned during the source to sea journey, which will be attended by middle school science classrooms. Participating students will engage in field exercises to learn about river restoration, managing water supply, river safety, and native fisheries management. The student ambassador team will gain a deep understanding of how rivers change as they travel through the watershed, including the natural and human-caused forces that manifest change, and what can be done to protect and help restore rivers, lakes, and watershed resources.

RFC has a goal to engage students in a way that makes them aware of the importance of the river for themselves and their community, and also how this changes for different communities along the river.

This will result in many benefits:

    1. Instill in students an awareness and love for their local watershed that will last their lifetime
    2. Begin their relationship as stewards of their local environment during the important formative years
    3. A source to sea (terminus) program fits well with civics and science curriculum – particularly in 5-6 grade.


The research shows that the more exposure someone has to the outdoors at a young age, the more likely they are to be interested in learning about it, and feeling concern for it (Chawla 1989). The greatest influence for becoming an environmentalist is this visceral exposure to it in childhood (Chawla, 1999). We are extremely happy to be able to support inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards through our Source to Sea Educational Adventure program.

“Chawla interviewed numerous professional environmentalists in the USA and in Norway about the experiences and people who shaped and influenced their decisions to become environmentalists. Furthermore, she reviewed previous studies that had been done on formative life experiences of environmentalists. In her study, she explored retrospectively what factors influenced people’s environ-mental sensitivity. She defines environmental sensitivity as ‘a predisposition to take an interest in learning about the environment, feeling concern for it, and acting to conserve it, on the basis of formative experiences’ (Chawla, 1998). Not surprisingly, she finds that there is no single experience that sensitizes people’s awareness but a combination of factors. Among the most frequently mentioned (decreasing in relevance) are:

  • Childhood experiences in nature
  • Experiences of pro-environmental destruction
  • Pro- environmental values held by the family
  • Pro-environmental organizations
  • Role models (friends or teachers)
  •  Education.

During childhood, the most influential were experiences of natural areas and family; during adolescence and early adulthood, education and friends were mentioned most frequently; and during adulthood, it was pro-environmental organizations (Chawla, 1999)……her studies are valuable in that they show how important an emotional connection to the natural environment seems to be in fostering environmental awareness and environmental concern.” Kollmus and Ageyeman (2002)


Louise Chawla (1999)Life Paths Into Effective Environmental Action, The Journal of Environmental Education, 31:1, 15-26, DOI: 10.1080/00958969909598628

Anja Kollmuss & Julian Agyeman (2002) Mind the Gap: Why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior?, Environmental Education Research, 8:3, 239-260, DOI: 10.1080/13504620220145401

What our students have to say:

Truckee 2017

Dear Rivers For Change,
Thank you for providing me with a one in a lifetime opportunity to be included with this program. I enjoyed it and learned a lot of new things about the Truckee River watershed and peoples efforts to improve it.

Beckley ClarkStudent Ambassador

When I was 10 years old, I spent two weeks as a Student Ambassador for Rivers for Change. It was such a cool experience to be with other, though older, kids who love rivers as much as I do. And to raise money for and learn about environmental issues from Sue Norman (Sue is also a former National Champion Slalom Kayaker and Rafter). Truckee Source to Sea. This also gave me an opportunity to public speak about river issues, be interviewed by news stations, and have an article in the local paper.

Chloe TippettStudent Ambassador
Example presentation that Student Ambassador Chloe Tippett gave to her school and you can read more on her blog about her 2017 trip. In 2018 she also wrote about presenting her trip in this blog post. She’s matured into quite the international kayak competitor since then!

Lamprey 2019

This program was full of hard work and trust as we finished our trip from source to sea. This was my first time with this camp and I didn’t even know how to kayak. I think this program was a great opportunity for me to learn and get better…this was a wonderful experience for me and hopefully everyone else.

Grey Bowden

Thank you for making everything that happened possible…..this camp really made me challenge myself to push harder.

Meghan Louise McCarthy

This was by far the most fun week of my summer so far! During this week of paddling camp I learned about the river, reunited with old friends, and had a ton of fun paddling and swimming!


I loved this program and the scholarships so thanks so much to everyone involved getting me and others involved in this program…I can’t wait to do it again…I’m so happy that everyone decided to do this and get more kids on the water.

Elijah Valley

The best part of my week was going through the rapids. I learned a lot about how to go through them safely and still have fun….thank you so so much, Peter, Liz and Matt.

Abby Drake