Students in grades 4-6 and their parents are encouraged to spend Saturday afternoon discovering the river that runs through Valley City.
Participants will learn about where the water of the Sheyenne River comes from, where it goes and the creatures that call it home.
David DeMuth, executive director of Great Plains STEM Education Center in Valley City, said Saturday’s activities are actually a preliminary event in anticipation of an April event that is partnered between Valley City State University and the City of Valley City called River Days, which will celebrate the river through a bigger day of events.
“The river is a really cool asset (to Valley City), and that is principally why the city was put here,” DeMuth said, adding that the event is an “opportunity to celebrate the Sheyenne” and give youngsters a chance to come and learn more about it.
DeMuth said that Saturday’s event, called “Secrets of the Sheyenne,” which is held from 1-5 p.m. at the Fish Hatchery in Valley City is also a bit to celebrate the great work of Kurt Eversman, manager of the Valley City National Fish Hatchery.
Eversman started at the Fish Hatchery in March and has is working hard to make the hatchery a public destination and cleaning it up.
Participants will learn what’s going on at the hatchery, including what they do in terms of breeding, growing and releasing fish as well as information on the water quality and insects in the area.
The day will consist of six sessions, all drawing attention to the secrets of the Sheyenne.
Casey Williams, instructor in the Fish and Wildlife program at VCSU and director of Prairie Waters Education and Research Center in Kathryn, will be talking samples of fish for students to identify.
Williams will use a typical natural approach to sampling by shocking the river so the fish float to the top. DeMuth said the fish are only stunned for a minute or two during this procedure.
Participants will then be able to see the fish that live in the Sheyenne.
Andre Delorme, professor at VCSU, will giving a presentation on mussels and getting parents involved.
“He and his partners are going to be doing some bugs and draw attention to underwater ecosystems available to fish,” DeMuth said.
“It’s really a rich river — the Sheyenne,” DeMuth added.
Another interesting project that DeMuth expects will be popular is the river of dreams project. Students will paint mini wooden canoes and launch them into the river at the hatchery while learning the path of the river.
The canoes will conceivably be found later by others who see them upstream from the launch spot. Those who find the boats can log onto a website that’s written on the boat and enter the information to track the boat before releasing it again.
“The website gives people a better idea of where their water goes,” so maybe people would be aware that they should be careful about what they dump into the river, DeMuth said.
He said he hopes the project will let people realize that if something enters the Sheyenne it could eventually make it all the way up to Winnipeg in Canada through the Red River.
There is no admission fee to the event, and participants can register by calling (701) 845-7441.