How to Register
First find the program in the calendar, then click on the “Find out more” link under the program description. You’ll be redirected to that specific event page, which will have more information and include a link for registration, if applicable.
Our liability waiver is now available online, and takes only a minute to read and sign. To participate in our programs, including volunteer programs, you must complete the liability waiver every 12 months. By completing the online waiver, you greatly reduce our paper consumption and your waiver is sent directly to our coordinator.
Our 90-minute school programs are designed to inspire and engage students ages 6-12 with a hands-on outdoor environmental education. All of our programs take place near (or in!) the Chemung River in Corning and Elmira, NY–although we always have a backup plan in case of uncooperative weather. We supply everything you need, including snacks for your kids! You’ll just need clothes you don’t mind getting messy, bug spray, sunscreen, and a water bottle. This program is available to district schools and home school groups. Programs can be done individually or scheduled in series according to your needs. We recommend no more than 18 students per FCRW instructor, and we require one adult chaperone be provided for every group of up to 10 students (e.g. a class of 15 would require at least 2 adult chaperones).
Earth Science Investigators
We’ll provide your students with notepads, pencils, and magnifying glasses, then we’ll go on a hike on the riverside trail in Corning, NY. We’ll learn about the geology and paleontology of our region–did you know this whole region used to be underwater? It’s very likely that we will find Devonian fossils during this hike! You’ll use your notebooks to write down the kind of animals and plants you find during your hike, and to make rubbings of the fossils you come across, so you can take your experience home with you. Snacks and water are provided.
Flora & Fauna Hike
We’ll hike the riverside trails at Pirozzolo Park in Elmira, NY. Students will be provided with binoculars (may have to share), trash bags, and gloves. Our nature expert will lead your group, and you’ll learn all about the flora and fauna on our trails! Along the way, we’ll pick up litter to show our appreciation for the flora and fauna all around us. Snacks and water are provided.
Terrarium & Geocaching Exploration
We’ll be making a terrarium, finding critters to put in it, and seeing how our critters use their environment to their advantage. We’ll put together our own Geocache to hide on the trail, and go hunting for other geocaches! Snacks and water are provided.
Trees are Important & Mindfulness in Nature
We’ll do a science experiment to learn about how trees “breathe” and why leaves change color. After our lesson, we’ll discuss how we can use nature and our five senses to better our health by engaging in mindfulness. Snacks and water are provided.
Macroinvertebrates, Major Fun! (River Bugs Program)
Students will walk into the shallow part of the Chemung River with an FCRW instructor, equipped with nets and wearing life jackets. Students will collect “river bugs” (macroinvertebrates), discuss their findings, and learn how some macroinvertebrates are signals of clean or polluted water. Students will receive a macroinvertebrate-themed bandana to take home, so you’ll have all the info you need for your next “river bug” adventure! Snacks and water are provided.
Birds of a Feather
Students will get a hand-on lesson about our local birds, then we’ll “flock together” on a riverside bird hike and construct a bird house. Snacks and water are provided.
Beginner Kayaking & River Safety
Join us for a river safety discussion, a life jacket fitting, and a paddle lesson from our kayak instructor. Students will be out on the river, staying near the boat launch, and parents and caregivers are encouraged to join them in the kayak during this lesson. Snacks and water are provided.
Students will learn about how the animals and plants of the Chemung River Watershed adapt to the coldest season of the year. We’ll learn about animal tracks, then we’ll put on snowshoes and head out on the trails. Hot cocoa and tea is provided along with a snack.
Our workshops will provide you with all sorts of learning opportunities, including skills you’ll need to excel on the river and new riverside hobbies to help you relax.
Introduction to Fly Fishing
This program is designed for adults who may have fished but not with a fly rod. We will cover the basic equipment and knowledge you will need to begin fly fishing. You will learn:
1. How to assemble, care for, and cast with a fly rod.
2. Basic knots and tools you will need to be a fly fisher.
3. Basic strategies for fly fishing including how to fish for trout, bass, and other game fish that inhabit our local waters.
Equipment, including fly rods, will be provided for the class, which will take place at the Botcher’s Landing boat launch located in Big Flats just off the South Corning Road by the bridge over the Chemung River. This workshop takes place across three classes. The first two classes will be instructional, the third class will be held at a local body of water, if water and weather conditions permit. Hip boots or waders are recommended for the third class, and a fishing license is required.
Introduction to Paddling & River Safety
Whether you need a refresher or are a completely new paddler, this workshop will teach you everything you need to know about how to paddle and stay safe on the river, including: paddle signals, PFD (life jacket) fitting, how to spot and avoid dangers, and more. These classes are taught by a professional and participants can bring their own kayak or rent one from the outfitter. All participants are required to wear a PFD that can be borrowed from FCRW at no cost, rented from the outfitter as part of a kayak rental, or you can bring your own. These classes are for people of all ages and abilities, and we encourage families to attend together so you can use the skills you learn to go on your own safe river adventures together.
Riverside Watercolor Painting
This plein-air painting workshop features local artist and instructor, Bridget Bossart van Otterloo, who will demonstrate different watercolor painting techniques for landscape painting. This outdoor painting program will be held at the Bottcher’s Landing Boat Launch in the Town of Big Flats. The workshop will take place in the shaded area under the pavilion, or participants can bring their own camping chairs and move around the property. Participants will be supplied with a variety of high-quality brushes, 140lb. cold-press watercolor paper, Wisner & Newton watercolor paints, palates, drawing boards, and filtered water from the river.
Treasure Hunting on the River
Join us for an educational workshop that will teach you how to find treasures using geocaching and metal detecting in the Chemung River Watershed without violating the practice of Leave No Trace. Participants will leave with their own Geocache box to hide along their favorite riverside trail and all the skills they’ll need to have fun geocaching and metal detecting without disturbing wildlife or the ecosystem.
Science Café & Knowledge Under the Pines
Our educational speaker series features knowledgeable hosts on a range of topics, and may be hosted at a local restaurant or under the pines at Big Flats Community Park. Past topics include: The Amazing Timber Rattlesnake; Ospreys, the Airborne Kings of the River; and When People Mess with Nature.
Our environmental programs are designed to keep our watershed clean, reduce storm water runoff, create green spaces, and reduce waste.
Clean Up Crew
A team-building exercise that gets everybody outside and doing something that will make an immediate an observable positive effect on our community? Yes, please! Our river clean-ups are designed for groups of 8 or more, but we can accommodate groups of any size. FCRW will provide your group with everything you need for a successful cleanup, including work gloves, garbage pickers, trash bags, a pick-up service for your collected litter, and a guide (if needed). We recommend a clean-up time of 2 to 3 hours. Our most popular clean-ups happen April – June in parks and riverbanks all around Chemung and Steuben counties. We work hard to clean the river; the boat launches; the streams, ponds, and creeks; and the riverside trails. You provide the volunteers, and we will promote the hard work your clean-up crew did on our social media if you send us a picture! We also have FCRW volunteer shirts available for purchase for your crew.
River Guardians “adopt” a stretch of the riverbank to help remove trash, litter, and illegal dumping from our waterways and trails. This might include general cleaning, help trimming overgrowth, removing downed tree limbs, or alerting us to issues on the trails. We consider River Guardians to be our Volunteer Corps, and we appreciate everything you do to keep our Watershed clean. We supply work gloves, “River Guardian” t-shirts, construction-sized plastic garbage bags, garbage sticks for easy picking-up, and any additional supplies as needed. We will also coordinate with the DPW to pick up the garbage bags after your activity, at the predetermined time and location. We ask the you send us any notes that may be of interest to our efforts and a picture of your clean-up work and final haul, which we will use to promote this and other programs. Children are welcome to participate, as long as children under 14 are accompanied by an adult. If you are interested in being a group coordinator, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a River Guardians orientation.
Rain and Pollinator Gardens
In partnership with multiple organizations, we create and install rain and pollinator gardens in Chemung and Steuben counties, with a focus on Elmira, NY, and the surrounding area. Rain and pollinator gardens help reduce storm water runoff and maintain healthy ecosystems.
We are passionate about our mission because we want the Chemung River Watershed to be enjoyed by all creatures, great and small. In partnership with Elmira Community Cycle, we have year-round recreational programming available.
We organize kayak tours of the Chemung River from May – October. These tours are held on a predetermined date; we can’t honor special requests. Kayak tours are open to the first 20 people who sign up on a given tour date (some tours may allow more participants). PFDs (life jackets) are provided and required. These tours are especially great for the beginner paddler who is looking for more experience in a safe setting. Each tour is run by an experienced river tour guide who will be leading you from point A to point B. We have a few different types of tours. A float is a leisurely tour, perfect for all ages, while a fitness tour may involve paddling up stream, and is more suited for ages 14+.
Little River Friends & Nature Strollers
These stroller-friendly nature hikes are geared towards ages 0-10 and will introduce you and your little one to all of our wonderful local trails. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet other local families in a laid-back, judgement-free zone. We also provide snacks and drinks, stopping for a picnic sit-down halfway through the program. No registration is required.
Outdoor Flea Market & Kayak Swap
Once a year, we host the outdoor flea market and kayak swap. Bring your old gear to swap or come buy some new outdoor gear, and don’t forget to stop by the ice cream truck!