Overview

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by!

RiverWatch Institute of Alberta is the amazing organization that does so much with such seeming ease.  We’re absolutely professional and a lot fun, and while we’re really adept at fun, behind it all is our passion for introducing folks to the stories told by our amazing rivers.

Across Alberta, our public programs deliver something of interest for everyone – if it’s about water, we’re on it!  We invite everyone and anyone to join us for a worthwhile and memorable experience in science, education or adventure. You won’t believe the places we’ll take you, and you likely won’t recognize the city you’ll see with us.

We most often hear from our adult guests “We never did anything like this when we were kids!” We’re sure you’ll enjoy a chance to explore with us, and our staff and river guides can’t wait to make you welcome!

Staff

Board Of Directors

Awards

Videos

History

Mission Statements

We’re not just talk at RiverWatch – we excel at hands-on experiences delivered through environmental science curriculum, public outreach and citizen science water quality monitoring. A registered Canadian Charity, RiverWatch Institute of Alberta is a longstanding and innovative leader specializing in the delivery of important messaging around science, water, wastewater, stormwater, watershed and climate.

Since 1995, RiverWatch has been delivering three of Canada’s best watershed education programs – the flagship RiverWatch School Afloat Program aboard large rafts equipped as mobile water quality laboratories; CreekWatch Citizen Science and Stewardship; and River Ambassador Summer EcoFloat Adventures. Don’t be scared by our interest in education – our programs showcase rivers like nothing participants have ever seen before and create an experience they’ll never forget! Over the years, nearly 150,000 participants have ventured out with us on six of Alberta’s major waterways. And now, hopefully, you will as well!

RiverWatch programs have become some of Alberta’s well-loved, must-do and must-experience opportunities with up to thirty-two seasonal staff and 10,000 program participants annually. Over the years, our reach has extended from Medicine Hat and Lethbridge in the south, to Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Cold Lake and as far north as Fort McMurray. We’ve enjoyed hosting all manner of good Alberta folks hailing from schools, universities, colleges, corporations, communities, families and visitors from near and far. We really do have something for everyone.

RiverWatch is not about a building, offices or anything land-based, indoors or bricks-and-mortar permanent.  We’re light on our feet and likely most recognizable by our buses hauling trailers stacked with big blue rafts to and from a variety of city parks and river access locations.  While we’re most comfortable on or along Alberta’s urban waterways, we do have home-bases in Edmonton and Calgary for secure storage at City Wastewater Treatment Plants, and we also have mobile outreach capability to centres such as City of Red Deer.

RiverWatch has the amazing impact and reputation that it does only because we partner with the right people, organizations and corporations. All our partners believe in public programming that is fun, hands-on and memorable. At RiverWatch, we’re more than the sum of our parts and together with our partners, we’ve become something uniquely Albertan.

There’s nothing quite like RiverWatch anywhere else in the world.  We know this in-part because the experiential, real-world and memory-making focus of RiverWatch public education programs has received numerous award recognitions, including:

  • Prime Minister’s National Award for Teaching Excellence
  • NSERC National Award for Science Promotion
  • Alberta Emerald Award
  • Calgary Award for Environmental Achievement

A volunteer nine-member Board of Directors meets quarterly to provide strategic direction and financial oversight to the RiverWatch Institute of Alberta.  This outstanding group of service-minded professionals hails from a wide-variety of backgrounds – politics, stakeholder relations, environmental consulting, watershed management, occupational heath and safety, and of course, education.

Defining Statements

No organization steers well without a defined purpose, mission and vison.  Here’s how we set our course at RiverWatch.

RiverWatch Institute of Alberta is a registered Canadian charity delivering award-winning science education programs, environmental awareness and guided river experiences on and along Alberta’s rivers and creeks.

Through the use of raft float trips, stewardship activities, portable water quality labs and other opportunities, program participants learn the ecology and importance of Alberta waterways.

By delivering and sharing watershed knowledge in memorable ways, we assist Albertans of all walks of life to better understand, enjoy and care for a sustainable environment.

Values

Behind every great organization are the core values they hold important.  Here’s what we believe at RiverWatch.

Safety and participant comfort is the first priority in all our programs, and more than 150,000 guests have safely enjoyed our award-winning programs and adventures since 1995. Our remarkable safety record represents approximately 800,000 participant hours and more than a million participant kilometers traveled aboard rafts without any safety incident requiring emergency medical services. RiverWatch rafts are used to transport participants along a ten-kilometer section of their local river, with participants providing the paddling power whenever needed. Everyone is kept safe and comfortable through a combination of policy, procedures, information, equipment and training.

The safety and well-being of our staff and participants is foremost at RiverWatch, and we aspire to create a great working environment where people work safely and have the respect, support and enthusiasm to be productive, happy and successful.

RiverWatch comes together with industry partners and supporters in an educational synergy for the common good that well-serves communities, students and teachers in a manner that is open, transparent, cost-effective and built upon strong relationships.

The importance of stories is universal.  Stories matter because they help pass down knowledge, help give us a sense of place in the world, help shape our perspective of the world and help us learn to act wisely.  We believe that our rivers, creeks and natural areas have stories to tell, and no one knows and gives voice to those stories any better than our interpretive river guides.

Science is a body of knowledge about the natural world obtained through observation and experimentation.  RiverWatch holds that science is a powerful lens through which to the view the world, and our participants don’t just talk about science, they use first-hand experiences to gather data for their own conclusions.

RiverWatch programs go beyond books and indoor classrooms to combine life-long learning with the amazing adventure of teamwork aboard a raft float trip, thereby creating once-in-a-lifetime memorable experiences.

RiverWatch provides a level of educational program quality and value that is truly unique and exceeds participant expectations.

Understanding, enjoying and caring for our natural environment is paramount to securing a sustainable future for everyone, and introducing new generations to the science behind our natural environment is a passion of ours.

Culture

Just who are we at RiverWatch?  What culture characterizes our organization?

Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion. Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company, and customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.

Company culture is the backbone of any successful organization. There’s no magic formula for creating a great place to work – often, the key is just to treat everyone how you would like to be treated.  The first step out of the gate is as simple as knowing where you want to end up.

Here at RiverWatch, our culture is manifested in our vision and mission statements, and our values are the core of our culture. Our culture impacts everything from our public image to our employee engagement and retention.

RiverWatch is “That great little organization doing such great big things!”  Everyone on the RiverWatch Team – Board Directors, Management, Seasonal River Guides and Community Partners – each wear many hats but are all united in providing the best possible science education adventures on and along our Alberta rivers.

RiverWatch is a “team-first” culture. We hire the right people based on how well they fit with our organization’s culture, values, beliefs, skills and experience. Our workforce is united by a common purpose and passion to deliver the best possible learning for each of our participants. Our staff are knowledgeable, skilled and passionate people who enjoy what they do and at the same time, always work with safety top-of-mind. We learn together. We frequently ask for feedback and encourage open communication through training, tailgate meetings and end-of-day debriefs.

At RiverWatch, our job titles, roles and descriptions are secondary to a collaborative, team-focused environment that is conversational and facilitates innovation. Each one of us participates in many aspects of the company and we are often hands-on involved in daily operations.  Our skills and talents often overlap and we are stronger for this.  We support each other to be the best we can be, to be the best organization we can grow.  We want both our people and our organization to shine.  We remove obstacles and each of us asks, “How can I help?”

At RiverWatch, what we do is not just a job, a building, a cubicle or a computer.  We’re light on our feet and no day is the same.  There is not just one thing to do and everyone rolls-up their sleeves and steps-up as needed and however they can to help get things done.  Like a theatrical production, there is always so much to do behind the scenes before the lights go down and the curtains finally rise for a well-choreographed performance.  A day doesn’t go by without a challenge to address or a problem to solve.  At the height of our operational seasons as we hit the water, it’s all hands-on deck with game face to welcome our program participants.

Our staff love working hard at work worth doing. Everyone at RiverWatch enjoys the outdoors, nature, rivers, river travel, hard work, fun and being active.  We are high-energy, creative, work hard rain-or-shine and have fun doing it.  We feel that our work is a valuable service to teachers, students, community and the environment.  We value learning and bringing people of all ages and backgrounds to explore the rivers we love. We place service above self-interest.  We believe people love what they know and care for what they love. We believe that today’s environmental sustainability, pressing concerns and a better future are best addressed by well-meaning people coming together across the generations.

At RiverWatch, we love sharing through stories of place-based experiences and history.  Everyone is valued, everyone has a story and everyone has something unique to contribute as we work, explore and learn on and along our rivers.  Each one of us is an ambassador for the organization, a learning lifestyle, science, safe outdoor travel and the importance of caring for rivers.

Our staff have a balance of time to work on their own and time to come together in a team.  This good balance and makes for productive and happy staff. Our people appreciate freedom and flexibility combined with a sense of being a part of a team. Autonomy is prioritized and we trust our teams to do their jobs well, knowing that a key motivator for staff is feeling proud of their work. Empowering individuals to be innovative and manage their own work is important to a healthy, positive organizational culture.

Our culture includes a few rites and rituals. We start each season with a week of “here’s your lifejacket and hat” for on-river training.  We end each season by dining out to recognize and celebrate high-performing staff and teams for the quality of their work.  When a trip, a day, a season or a program comes to an end, we wonder how the time went by so fast. We celebrate together and miss everything and everyone all at the same time. Then, we rest-up, re-energize and look forward to doing it all yet again with even more great people.

RiverWatch is the very best at what we do and there’s nothing quite like anywhere else.  Our specialty is not classroom learning, lectures, digital resources or virtual learning – in fact, quite the opposite. We train and prepare our staff to work safely and productively in river and industrial environments.  We specialize in bringing people together in small groups for experiential, community-based, real-world citizen science and learning adventures outdoors where our staff engage participants as “guides-on-the-side” rather than as stand-and-deliver “sages-on-the-stage”.  We help build a sense of place and community.

We nail it.  Without a word of a lie, we hear so often from staff that their work with us was the best work they’ve ever had.  Parents tell us that they never did anything like our programs when they were kids.  Teachers say our trips are foundational to their classroom success.  Our programs and workplace culture creates happy and engaged employees and participants, as well as our rock-solid positive reputation.

Based upon the strength of our award-winning delivery model, we build life-long, quality memories for our clientele and exemplify the best in discovery learning. Our solid reputation for in-person program delivery stands in the face of often-heard and widespread dissatisfaction with some forms of traditional learning.  Why don’t tell participants how healthy their river or creek is, we help them discover their answer first-hand.

Our core values shape our overall culture. These are the set of practices, ideals and beliefs that outline how we operate, including how we grow, allocate resources and makes decisions. Our core values provide structure and consistency. The core values that we live and practice every day exemplify who we are at RiverWatch.