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Fitz Center for Leadership in Community

Welcome to the Rivers Institute

Rivers Institute, 2024

The Rivers Institute was imagined during a 17-mile paddle down the Great Miami River, which brought together members of the Fitz Center and the Miami Conservancy District, and inspired a vision of student-led outreach and engagement. Soon after, the institute’s flagship program, the River Stewards, was created so that students can realize our vision to empower communities to be stewards of rivers.

To this day the Institute remains a collaboration of students, faculty, staff and community partners engaging in interdisciplinary and experiential learning, civic engagement and sustainable community development around rivers, the strategic natural resource central to communal, economic, aesthetic and ecological vitality of the Dayton region and beyond.

Since that 17-mile paddle in 2007, the institute has grown through its projects and partnerships. For more than a decade, our RiverMobile frequented regional schools and nature centers to educate our communities about stewarding our aquifer and waterways; the RiverMobile lives on as a permanent exhibit at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. In collaboration with local teachers, River Stewards created the children’s book Into the River, the pages of which now adorn our storybook trail just beyond campus. Students and faculty work with partners to protect habitat throughout the watershed, helping to manage invasive species, restore healthy habitats, and conduct research that supports land managers who share our mission.


The Rivers Institute

1401 S. Main Street Dayton
Dayton, Ohio 45409