West Alton, Mo. - The public is invited to celebrate the Summer of Paddling 2012 at the St. Louis Adventure, a canoe and kayak event to be held at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, Mo. Aug. 17 and 18.

The Summer of Paddling 2012 is a series of events designed to get Americans outside to enjoy the Mississippi River via canoe or kayak. Aligned with the Presidential Initiative America’s Great Outdoors, the program encourages people to be active and get outside to experience nature.

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School groups are invited to the Bird Sanctuary on Friday, Aug. 17 from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. to learn about paddling and related nature topics. Students will take a guided paddle tour in voyager canoes with Big Muddy Adventures; learn about the journey that Lewis and Clark embarked on in 1804; identify live fish of the Mississippi River with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and help keep the bird sanctuary clean with a Sierra Club service project. To register a class or group of children ages 10-18, call the National Great Rivers Museum at 618-462-6979. Space is limited. 

The public is invited to the Sanctuary from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18. Attendees will have the opportunity to try paddling and learn about a variety of outdoor recreation activities. Hunting and fishing from canoe or kayak provide for easy access to remote areas, learn the basics of these activities from the Army Corps of Engineers. Great Rivers Greenway will lead a bike tour and the Audubon center staff and volunteers will hold nature walks on the sanctuary grounds. Also try geocaching, a type of scavenger hunt using GPS units.

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Amateur photographers can take part in a photography contest at the event. Attendees will be able to download photos from their digital camera or cell phone to upload to the Summer of Paddling 2012 Facebook page. The photo with the most “Likes” will be announced via the Summer of Paddling social media networks at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24.

Both events are free. No paddling experience is necessary.

The events are made possible through partnerships with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Mississippi River Connections Collaborative (MRCC), Mississippi River Trail, Great Rivers Greenway, Mississippi River Water Trail Association, St. Charles County Parks Department, Sierra Club, and Audubon Center at Riverlands.

For more information about the events call National Great Rivers Museum at 618-462-6979 or visit www.SOP2012.org.

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