River Wranglers teaches Nevada children and teenagers to care for their local environment, firmly rooting their enthusiasm and passion for learning along the banks of the Carson River.
Under River Wranglers' direction, more than 5,000 youth have helped preserve river habitat since 1994. The nonprofit environmental group, in cooperation with public schools, teaches children to build homes for wood ducks, protect trees from beaver damage, and plant willows to control erosion of the sandy banks.
“River Wranglers is an example of community experts teaching children and sharing their knowledge.” said Lyon County School Board Trustee Barbara Johnson. “I feel strongly that children need to understand the environment in their neighborhood.”
River Wranglers' initial work with Silver Springs youth has had a ripple effect. Today more than 15 schools in four Nevada counties are learning to be stewards of their environment.
River Wranglers' largest influence remains in Lyon County, where the organization created a mentoring program, pairing high-school students in botany/zoology/chemistry classes with elementary students. Each year, teenagers teach groups of younger children how to test water quality, and combat bank erosion.
"I was very surprised when we got all of those macro invertebrates (bugs)," said one middle school student. "When we learned this in class, it was cool. But you showed us and that was awesome."
Fourth-grade students from Silver Springs Elementary School assess the river's water quality monthly. This activity meets the Nevada State Standards in science, math and Nevada history.
"I thought it was pretty amazing that we got to check how healthy the river is," said another student after determining the river was "in fair condition, but a little too low, and it has too much sediment covering the bugs that live on the bottom.”
Originally, part of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Service, River Wranglers became an independent organization in 2000. Guided by a board of seven directors who represent education and conservation, River Wranglers' mission is to conserve, explore and celebrate rivers through community programs, projects, and hands-on education.
"We want to excite youth, their parents and their grandparents by deepening their understanding of and commitment to watersheds, rivers and streams that sustain life for generations to come," River Wranglers' educational coordinator Linda Conlin said.
In achieving this goal, the organization helps Silver Stage Middle schools hatch rainbow trout eggs and release the minnows into the river.
Every springtime, River Wranglers hosts an event with Ft, Churchill State Historic Park called the Carson River Festival. The event in 2008 is scheduled on May 10. Families are invited to the river along Ft. Churchill to learn more about the watershed. Hands-on learning provides opportunities for children and their parents to explore the exciting world of nature.
Since 2001, River Wranglers partnered with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection to sponsor a daylong field trip called “Make a Splash” for middle schools in the watershed. Students attend workshops about agriculture, mining, water safety, and Nevada history.
“It is important to teach children the delicate issues surrounding water and how we have to balance the uses of water.” said former Assemblyman and Speaker of the House Joe Dini.
River Wranglers encourages individuals and families that want to be more involved with the Carson River to contact us by email,
, or phone (775) 577-2631. Check out the River Wranglers blog