GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (GRPS) -- Grand Rapids Public Schools 8th graders had the opportunity to learn about the environment during the annual Canoemobile experience.

More than 800 scholars engaged in a number of outdoor activities including paddling eight-passenger canoes on the Grand River, learning about the waterway’s history and water quality, nature hiking and cultural history lessons. 

Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby and Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss both stepped into canoes to learn with scholars.

"We believe in the whole rounded child and making sure that young people understand that learning doesn't only take place in the classroom, it takes place in our community," Roby said.

"Whether it's setting up a tent or learning about nature or taking a hike, just encouraging them that they can do that," Bliss said. "These aren't experiences that just belong to a few of us."

Canoemobile is a partnership between Grand Rapids Public Schools, the City of Grand Rapids, Wilderness Inquiry, Camp Newaygo, Blandford Nature Center, Outdoor Discovery Center, Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus, Kent County 4-H and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"I really got a feel for the water and the plant life," said Tamire, a scholar at Gerald R. Ford Academic Center, after getting out of the canoe.

"It was nice. It was calm. It was just very cool. It was fun. I liked it a lot," said Kianna, a scholar at Gerald R. Ford Academic Center.