Growing up in Shannon County, I have spent a good deal of time on the rivers. They have been a place to spend time with family and friends, a place for solitude, a place to learn. Until last week, when I spent three days with the urban rangers from MDC’s Discovery Center, I hadn’t thought about the river I love as an interpretive site. Floating the upper Current River from Welch Springs to the Pulltite access, the 30 or so novice paddlers were exposed to a world they had never seen before. It was our job to make this trip not only safe and fun but a learning adventure – building memories at every turn.
We launched the boats in the heat of the day and immediately had a group of floaters pass us and begin to ask questions about the urban rangers program and MDC’s involvement. Whenever we had a canoe flip, true to the Ozarks spirit of helping out a neighbor, complete strangers would stop to help out. These good Samaritans were curious about the group and the urban ranger program. We never missed an opportunity to discuss current issues including bears, feral hogs and elk with the public. I probably had as many questions on the river that day as I routinely do at Twin Pines Conservation Education Center.
As for the Urban Rangers, they learned about navigating Ozark streams, where the cold clear water of the Current River comes from, macroinvertebrates & the fish that eat them….and we may have told a tall tale or two in the wee hours of the morning of bears looking for food. The urban rangers had a great time, gained an awareness of the life that depends on the crystal clear Ozarks Streams and probably learned a little about themselves along the way. MDC conducts this program out of the Discovery Center each year and I only got the invitation to participate because they were short-handed. I have already put the date for next year on my calendar. I’m hoping I get the phone call again because the young men from Kansas City weren’t the only ones who learned a thing or two on the river that week.
Later this year we will be taking a group of women down the Jacks Fork River doing much the same program we did for the urban rangers. You don’t have to wait for an organized program however. If you wanna get out on the river for a fun day or an educational experience of your own, there are lots of opportunities around the Ozarks. For more information on floating the Current River or other places to go in the Ozarks see the Related Information links below.