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Telling the Big Story of America’s Rivers

RiverWorks Discovery is an innovative outreach program that tells the big story of America’s rivers – Commerce, Culture, and Conservation. Created in 2004 by then-AEP River Operations president Mark Knoy and continuing under current AEP River Operations president Keith Darling, RiverWorks Discovery brings towboat pilots as well as environmental educators to learners across the country to show how important river commerce is to our nation’s economic and fiscal security. An RWD national exhibit will soon be traveling the United States.

Jerry Enzler is being honored as a Champion of Change for his time and effort developing innovative ways to help grow and expand the transportation industry.  

Our country was founded by river people, and still today hundreds of thousands of people owe their jobs to river borne commerce. The people who move the nation’s goods on our rivers today are the descendants of the early flat boat shippers, steamboat pilots, engineers, and towboat deckhands. RiverWorks Discovery (RWD), a nationally recognized education outreach program, tells this story to children and their families and shows how those who work the river are also concerned about river culture and conservation.

RWD brings together the for-profit industry, community leaders, museums, nature centers, educators, and the general public in recognition of the role our rivers have played and will continue to play in our nation's future. With 70 co-sponsors and 30 non-profit partners nationwide, RWD provides free educational materials and presentations to the public, reaching over 400,000 children and families through festivals, conferences, seminars, school presentations, and hands-on workshops.

RWD engages the public with the role of rivers in our nation's future and encourages people to develop a personal relationship with their local waterway. It widens community acceptance in support of safe, healthy, multi-use rivers in major metropolitan areas. The Who Works the Rivers career awareness program introduces older students to the opportunities for careers in our maritime river industry. Education about this often unknown or under-appreciated mode of transportation offers a more complete understanding of the history and importance of the inland shipping industry and multi-use waterways.

RWD inspires good environmental stewardship of our nation's waterways and watersheds. Our "Kids for Clean Rivers Pledge" outlines positive action steps for children and their families, and scouts can earn a patch for completing specific activities. RWD Programs correlate to state standards and are multi-disciplinary focusing on math, history, geography, and mapping.

RWD was the vision of, and championed by, Mark Knoy when he was president of AEP River Operations, and outstanding support continues with AEP River Operations president Keith Darling and other industry leaders. Developed by Mark Carr of AEP working with Errin Howard and others, RWD advanced substantially under the leadership of Teri Goodmann at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. Ginger Sakas, Errin Howard, Mark Wagner and others at the River Museum now manage the program and its upcoming RWD travelling exhibit. The Museum & Aquarium, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is the largest river museum in the country and is part of a $400 million riverfront development in Dubuque, Iowa. We are excited to continue with so many inspired partners to tell the big story of America’s rivers.

Jerry Enzler is CEO of RiverWorks Discovery