photo at top: Canoeists on Cahaba River (provided by Cahaba River Society).
Field trips are wonderful ways to create lasting relationships between students and the Cahaba River. Students need tangible ways to truly learn about the importance of our environment. Allowing students to participate in field trips brings to life the ecosystem of the Cahaba. Studies have indicated that they learn better by actively participating in the learning process. Students will best remember the living communities of the Cahaba by catching and studying its fish and invertebrates. As a result, ecology becomes a “real” concept for students. They may also learn that river belongs to them and it is their responsibility to keep it healthy. After a connection is made with the Cahaba, students are informed to make educated decisions in regards to environmental issues that face them and future generations.
The best time to go on field trips to the Cahaba River is in the warmer months. The Cahaba River Society schedules field trips for teachers and their classes from February through May and September through November. Make reservations early because they book-up quickly.
However, you can go to the McWane Center any time during the week from 9:00 - 5:00 p.m. They also provide educator workshops if you are interested.
1. Make sure that each student completes an Educational Field Trip Health Form.
2. Have a first aid kit with you at all times.
3. Go over proper attire with students. Wear clothes that correlate with the outside temperature and clothes that you don't mind getting wet! Students entering a stream or river need to wear protective footwear, as rocks and human debris in the river can be sharp. A checklist is provided through Cahaba River Society if you decide to field trip with them.
4. Don’t forget your camera! Students love pictures of their adventures.
Preparing your students in the classroom:
The best way to prepare your students in the classroom is to create or integrate an ecology unit into the curriculum. Cahaba River Society as well as other environmental associations provide a complete ecology unit FREE to Alabama teachers! A basic starting point is to introduce the Cahaba River via maps. Then, teach the importance of the Cahaba. Next, explore the ecosystem and endemic plants and animals. Finally, end up with a discussion of human impact to the environment of the Cahaba. This should stimulate student involvement into ecological issues which could lead to the formation of new environmental clubs as well as student service projects. The important issue to remember is to promote involvement!
The best resource to go for field trips on the Cahaba is the Cahaba River Society. They have canoe as well as stream-walk field trips. They can be located at www.cahabariversociety.org. The charge is $5.00 per student. Trips last all day so, bring a camera, sack lunch and a change of clothes!
Other environmental field trips that your students will enjoy!
Any good first aid kit should include but not limited to the following:
If you decide to go through the Cahaba River Society, environmental educators who are trained in canoeing, CPR, Community Water Safety, and wilderness first aid are taking you and your students on Cahaba River field trips. Inviting parents to be a helping-hand during the field trip is also a good idea.