St. Louis River Quest adventures captured in winning essays & poems

Friday, June 8, 2012

Duluth, Minn. USA - Awards were presented this week to winners and runners-up in the 2012 Captain Ray Skelton River Quest Essay & Poetry Contest, following up on the hands-on learning experiences they and nearly 1,200 other sixth-graders had during River Quest 2012.

Marina Melby (Marshall School) won first place in the essay contest; Benjamin Emmel (St. James Catholic School) was runner-up; Grace Cannon (Woodland Middle School) took first-place honors in the poetry contest with Noah Schottenbauer (Marshall School) was runner-up.

Their teachers, parents and classmates were on hand for the surprise presentations of the awards - which included a "traveling plaque," that will remain on display at each of the winning schools for a full semester next academic year. Each first-place winner also received a prize package that included gift certificates to several area attractions and special events. 

Excerpts from the winning compositions:        

"...did you know that your sewage gets treated, goes back to Lake Superior, and eventually makes it back to your drinking water?  ...I know this may be hard to believe, but the water is treated by bacteria. The bacteria is given a lot of dissolved oxygen, and starts to eat all of the nutrients. When the bacteria is done, the water is disinfected and returned to the St. Louis River. From there, it flows into Lake Superior, which will eventually make it to another treatment plant, and start the cycle again."    -Marina Melby, 6th grade, Marshall School

"Rip, drip, oil slick mucking up the lake,
Birds can't fly, fish may die, all for profits sake.
Pick it up, suck it up, any way you can
To save our lake for every child, woman and man
To swim in and sail on all summer long."               -Grace Cannon, 6th grade, Woodland Middle School

St. Louis River Quest was created in 1993 to provide students with hands-on learning experiences that enhance their awareness and understanding of the St. Louis River ecosystem and its many interrelated commercial, industrial, and recreational activities. This is the first year that a poetry category was added to the contest. Now in its fifth year, the contest was named in memory of Captain Ray Skelton - one of the program's founders, a master mariner, and longtime Duluth Seaway Port Authority staff member.  Previous River Quest Essay Contest winners include:  2008 - Lauren Johnson, Ordean Middle School; 2009 - Pentti Hanlon, Marshall School; 2010 - Eleanor "Ellie" French, Woodland Middle School; and 2011 - Paul Foldesi, St. James Catholic School. 

Nearly 1,200 students from 13 area schools participated in River Quest this year. These sixth graders learned all they could about the St. Louis River ecosystem at stations staffed by volunteers who covered topics ranging from pollution prevention and stopping aquatic invaders to boating safety and commercial shipping.  Over 16,000 students have participated in River Quest since its inception in 1993.           

For more information about River Quest or to read full-length essays, visit

Financial sponsorship for River Quest 2012 provided by:   
 (Platinum $1,000+)
Duluth Public Schools, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Holcim (US) Inc., Sappi Fine Paper, Vista Fleet

(Gold $500+)
Marine Tech, Minnesota Power, Minnesota Sea Grant Program, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District

(Silver $250+)
Calumet Superior LLC, Fraser Shipyards, Gavilon Grain, Graymont (WI) LLC, Hallett Dock Co., Midwest Energy Resources Co., NewPage, Subway

(Bronze $100+)

Allouez Marine, Grandma's Restaurant Co.

(Steel $50+)

National Bank of Commerce  

2012 River Quest Learning Station Topics & Sponsors:

What is the difference between Storm & Sanitary Sewers?      
City of Duluth Utility Operations   

Pollution & the River Watershed
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  

Bacteria: The Real Workers at WLSSD
Western Lake Superior Sanitation District 

Sustainable Forestry

Great Lakes Cargo Capital
Duluth Seaway Port Authority   

Living Lands & Waters
Sappi Fine Paper

Oil Spill Cleanup
U.S. Coast Guard & USCG Auxiliary

Stream Table
Superior National Forest
Cold Hand Luke" Hypothermia & Water Safety
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Fish Families
Great Lakes Aquarium & MN DNR MinnAqua Program

It floats, you don't. Wear your life jacket!
Duluth Sail & Power Squadron

What is the Es-chew-air-ee?
Lake Superior NERR

Get Habitattitude!
Minnesota Sea Grant Program

Break the Grip of the Rip
Twin Ports Rip Currents

For information, contact:  Adele Yorde, PR Manager, Duluth Seaway Port Authority (218) 727-8525

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