ARTech Students Tell Their Boat Story

 We are a group of students (6th-8th grade) and advisors from Northfield’s ARTech Charter School   We are currently in the process of getting a boat ready to sail the Mississippi River.  On this trip we will start in Lake Pepin and go down the river as far as on one week takes us.  This has been an extraordinary experience for all of us.  We started this project out by learning a bit about our boat.  It’s a forty-foot Zerlott Trawler.  The current name is “Another Chance.”  We’re not sure whether or not we’re going to keep this name.

This boat was made in Coden, Alabama August 31, 1988 and was given to us for educational purposes by the most recent owner, Cap’n Bob Schleicher.  What we have done so far in this project is cleaning the inside, scraping and sanding the paint on the outside, fundraising, and some educational adventures.

Total for the cost of our one-week trip down the Mississippi we will need approximately $15,900.  This includes the costs of painting the boat, replacing sections of the wood, insurance, engine work, fuel for the trip, moving the boat to and from Lake Pepin, titling the boat and hiring Cap’n Bob to pilot the boat on our tip.  Our first fundraiser was held at Northfield’s Econo food; we bagged groceries.

For the educational aspect of this project, we have been learning about pollution and other factors that our rivers, streams, and lakes deal with.  We also had some boatmen visit us to answer any questions we had about boating. yes">  We had Cap’n Bob and his two friends, Joe and John, come talk to us about the Mississippi, our boat, and boats in general.  They answered some of our questions like, “When did you start boating?” and “What is a typical day on a boat?”  They really helped us understand what boating is all about and we really appreciated their participation.

We also went on a hike along Northfield’s very own Spring Brook.  Our personal guide was Dave Legvold.  On this hike we learned about the brook and how the brook is affected by surrounding landscaping.

We also went on an overnight trip to Winona to learn about the Mississippi River.  While we were there we went on a hike, collected mussels, camped out on the river, had a discussion about bio-diversity, and visited a lock n’ dam.

We started out our trip to Winona on a bright and sunny Tuesday morning.  We drove from ARTech to Winona, which is about a two and a half hour drive.  When we got there, we met with a man named Richie Swanson, and his friend Barbie, who led us on a hike through a forest heavily infested with poison ivy.  At the end of the trail we came upon some periscopes that were focused on an osprey’s nest.  We got to see the mother feeding her young.  Also while we down there, we spotted the common brown water snake.

Next we met a man named Mike Davis and his assistant Nicole.  With their aid we collected 120 three ridge and 90 pocket book mussels.  One interesting fact is that there is an invasive species of mussel called the zebra mussel.  This mussel will cling onto other mussels, which can suffocate it.  These mussels are very small so they can fit a lot on one big host mussel.  After this, we set up cap at the Prairie Island Campground ate and ran around and had s’mores around a campfire.

In the morning, we were visited by Ed Legace. yes">  He works for the Fish and Wildlife division of the DNR.   With him we had a discussion concerning bio-diversity and invasive species that live in the Mississippi River.  He really helped us realize that there is no “perfect balance” in nature and that we just want to get as close to that as we can.  He then played some of his original compositions on the traditional Native American flutes.

Before we left to come home, we had a tour of one of the lock n’ dams on the Mississippi River.  The man who gave us the tour explained how the dam worked and the purpose of having a dam.  After this really interesting tour we got back in the vans and drove back to Northfield.

 This trip has helped us to better understand how delicate nature is and how every little thing we do has a big impact on the well-being of our planet.  We want to pass our knowledge onto others so they can see the importance of our planet and the little things we can do to preserve its beauty.

We asked some people in our group what they had to say about this project and how it has gone for them so far. This is what they have to say:

“I had a lot of fun.  I’d give this project an A+.  Not only did we work we got to hang out with friends.”

“This was a really great learning experience.  I had a lot of fun.”

“I really enjoyed camping on the trip.”

“I think we all had a really good time.  And the attitude on the boat was good.  It was fun working and hanging out with everybody.”

“I really enjoyed doing this project and the trips we took.  I hope we do it again.”

“This project has been really great!  I’ve had a lot of fun working on the boat and going on the trips. yes">  I’m really excited for the project to continue next year.”

“I thought this project was a great experience to learn about boats and wildlife on the Mississippi River.”

“It was great to watch everyone enjoy themselves and be involved in something productive and exciting and learn so much about the river.”

“Work a lot.  Play a lot. yes">  Smile.”

This overall has been an amazing experience that we will cherish forever.  We will be working on this project for another year and would really appreciate any help that you want to contribute.  Whether it’s donations of money, time, or resources we could use the support.  If you have any questions or comments or offers for help, you could contact Anne Klawiter at   Thank you for taking time to read about ARTech’s Boat Project.