Riverkeeper floating classroom set to celebrate 20,000th participant

Published 10:00 am Monday, September 5, 2022

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On Thursday, Sept. 29, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) will celebrate its 20,000th participant served aboard the West Point Lake Floating Classroom. A group of sixth-grade students from Callaway Middle School are expected to help the program surpass the mark.

Starting in 2015, the West Point Lake Floating Classroom began providing unique opportunities for students and educators to explore science, ecology, history and math on the lake — all in accordance with state education standards.

The floating classroom, affectionately known as Miss Sally, provides educational field trips students of all ages from elementary to college students. 

“The sixth-grade science curriculum particularly matches up with well with what we’re teaching on the floating classroom,” said Henry Jacobs, Middle Chattahoochee Director for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

“In Troup County, we get to serve every sixth-grade student from all three public middle schools,” he said.

Jacobs said they take about 60 kids per day, spread out over a number of outings. They average about three to four outings per week. 

“We run around 100 outings a year and annually we serve around 3,000 attendees,” Jacobs said.

Most of the outings in September are typically educational field trips for middle schoolers, but throughout the year other students and community members will have opportunities to learn about West Point Lake and the Chattahoochee River watershed.

The floating classroom offers hands-on STEM based activities that follow Georgia Standards of Excellence that are being taught in the schools.

“We’re reinforcing what teachers are teaching in their classrooms but doing so out on the lake in a safe environment,” Jacobs said. “For a lot of students, it’s their first time on West Point Lake or even on a boat. So, it’s kind of a special experience.”

Miss Sally is one of two floating classrooms ran by Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. CRK has operated a floating classroom on Lake Lanier for the past 20 years. Between both programs, CRK has served around 75,000 students, teachers and adults over the past two decades.

In Troup County, the floating classroom program is supported by the Callaway Foundation, the WestPoint Fund and the City of LaGrange. Aflac, Yamaha and Google are also major supporters of the program.