Youth on the Columbia combines hands-on activities and education in an innovative way to elevate students' understanding of early-day Columbia River exploration and its impacts on native cultures.

Made possible through a joint partnership of the Wenatchee Row & Paddle Club and the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center, the program provides students the opportunity to paddle on the Columbia River in canoes, participate in educational stations, and tour exhibits at the museum.

"It's a great way to educate kids about their history," says Selina Danko, museum educational coordinator.

In 2011, the Row and Paddle Club and the museum helped honor the 200-year anniversary of explorer David Thompson's expedition on the Columbia with a community awareness campaign that included a school field trip component.

David Thompson Brigade landing at Wenatchee Confluence State Park
The David Thompson Brigade landing at Wenatchee Confluence State Park, June 26, 2011

Youth on the Columbia is an off-shoot of that, with the focus shifting from strictly on David Thompson to one that is more broadly based on early-day exploration and on Native American and indigenous cultures in the region.

It also is a program that organizers anticipate continuing for years.