Imagine growing up having a fear of the river that ran behind your house and the only way you know how to conquer that fear is to canoe one of the longest rivers in America.
For Kansas City, Kansas native Sara Dykman, that’s exactly what she did. During Monday’s Jefferson City Council meeting, Dykman along with three of her friends were acknowledged for their project, On the River.
On the River is a journey that Dykman decided to take due to her fear of rivers. She gathered her friends Nia Thomas, Aaron Viduich and Matthew Titre and together they decided that they would travel from the Triple Divide Peak in Montana to the Gulf of Mexico by way of canoe.
“There is the element of the river where the river is the path and humans haven’t decided where it’s going," Dykman said. "It’s kind of this corridor for animals and for adventure and I wanted to know where that river started and where that river ended."
What makes this trip unique is that on this journey, the four friends make pit stops at elementary schools. They have even made a stop in Columbia to give paddling lessons and discuss the importance of keeping the environment clean—especially lake, rivers and oceans to students at Mill Creek Elementary school. Ironically, they find that they have learned more from the students than the students have learned from them.
“One thing that I have learned is that it is really hard to stand still and focus on something unless you have it right in front of you,” said Viduich when asked what the biggest lesson has been that he has learned from the students.
As of right now, the four friends have been traveling for four months straight often time spending all of daylight on the water and camping during nightfall. They have faced some adversities but say that it is extremely important to be aware of the world—especially the rivers-- around you.
“We are all connected by this river," Dykman said. "We drink this water. It’s brought us our culture. To ignore it is to ignore this amazing resource that’s in our backyard."
To follow this group's experience you can visit their website: http://www.ontheriver.org