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Experiential Learning at UD

Where are they now? - “Into the River” (River Stewards Children’s Book)

By Rhyan Pearson

This past November, the Office of Experiential Learning attended the River Stewards Community Visioning Event, where the seniors of the 2020 Cohort turned to the Dayton community to get input on their capstone project - a book that would come to be titled Into the River

Image of a student interviewing another student with a presentation board in the background.

Even though UD students are no longer on campus, the book was completed and printed. While it may not be distributed in physical format for some time, it has been published online and is available free of cost to anyone who wants to read it. The book is made by the senior 2020 cohort for elementary-age children but has information that is important to all people. It tells the story of Dayton’s rivers and why it is so crucial to take care of them. It includes art by both UD students and younger students from the Dayton area, as well as an original story and graphic design work. One of the main challenges in creating the book was synthesizing all of the feedback and ideas from the community. Noël Michel, who did graphic design work for Into the River, said that it “was challenging as an artist... because I had to make sure to incorporate as many ideas as possible from the community leaders, other organizations, and the children of Dayton”. Feedback came from many community members; children and adults.

While COVID-19 may have impacted the cohort’s ability to work together physically, their work to bring this project to life didn’t end once they left campus. Working remotely, the cohort met weekly through Zoom. They were still able to print 2,400 copies of the book, which are now in storage waiting to be distributed, so they “decided to have [their] book quickly made into an ebook and widely distributed to families remotely everywhere. We’ve even had some downloads in Germany!” says Noël. The River Stewards also hope to include the book on the River Mobile, their mobile education center.

A variety of students holding a digital copy of the book "Into the River"

The students in the cohort are still working on modifying their distribution plan for after COVID-19. Originally, they were going to facilitate a launch event at the Dayton Metro Library, which they hope is still a possibility. For now, their plan is to distribute copies of the book free of cost to local elementary schools in the summer and fall of this year (there’s also a rumor that it could be available at the UD bookstore).

The Office of Experiential Learning also interviewed Noël in our video series “What’s the Word”, to get some more detailed information about the completion of the book. The video is linked below. For more information, you can check out the River Stewards Stander Symposium presentation, view their Google Slides document, or check out the virtual book.

Special thanks to Noël Michel and the rest of the 2020 River Stewards Cohort for their hard work, willingness to share their story, and the information provided to us.

The Office of Experiential Learning is compiling a page of information about working and learning remotely. Please check out and share the site here. We also publish a newsletter about the latest in EL, including more recent information about how to implement EL digitally. If you are interested in signing up, please click here.


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