PIQUA — The Edison State Community College Student Senate enjoyed a beautiful day for their fifth annual Float, Learn, and Feast event. The event brought together over 20 students, faculty, staff, and friends of Edison State for an educational trip down the Great Miami River in Piqua.
Before the kayaks hit the water, Leslie King, Director of the Rivers Institute at the University of Dayton, spoke on the importance of healthy waterways.
“Someone once told me, ‘If you want to know the river, learn the valley.’ What’s happening on the land? It’s going to show up in that river, right? So, if you want to know the river, you’ve got to look at the things going on around it. Not just here, but upstream, downstream, all the communities you’re connected to as a watershed. If you want to know the river, you’ve got to know the watershed.”
She explained how the Great Miami River Watershed leads into and is part of the watersheds it connects to—first the Ohio River, then the Mississippi River, and, finally, the Gulf of Mexico.
“All watersheds are connected,” said King. “When you think about learning from a watershed lens and looking at the community as a watershed, you start to think of systems working together.”
“This is a lifelong journey into understanding the importance and power of rivers, the way they can bring people together, and the importance of protecting and preserving them.”
King encouraged kayakers to have fun on the water. “Go out there today and have a great time, splash around, get wet, immerse yourself in the river. If you do that, I guarantee you will leave today like, ‘Oh, I love the river.’ We call it river love.”
Jeff Lange of Protecting Our Water-Ways (POWW) joined the kayakers once again as they set out on the river. Since 2004, POWW has invited volunteers to get on the Great Miami River from southern Sidney to southern Piqua to remove trash from the water. In their 18 years, they’ve eliminated 198,250 pounds of trash, including 1,785 tires, from their 16 miles of adopted riverway.
“I remember when I was where you are, and the most important thing to me was getting out of school, getting a job, and living life,” Lange said. “As I’ve lived life, I hit on some things that are very important to me. Make sure you have a job you really enjoy. Never stop learning. Be passionate about things other than work, and when you’re driven into those things, think about what people have done before you and are doing now. Beyond raising a family, having a home, and having a job, people have taken an initiative to start nonprofits, to start an earthquake where there was just a tremor.”
“I ask all of you to think about doing that at some point in your life. Give back, give back.”
The float began at Roadside Park in Piqua and ended at the Great Miami River Trail near Bridge Street. Participants floated in kayaks purchased with funds raised during Down a River, Down a Beer (DARDAB) and received a free lunch, t-shirt, and goodie bag.