Many children living in canal towns are naturally intrigued by the canal. They see it and cross over it every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. In a school bus, car, truck, bicycle, and by foot. They enjoy learning about its history, especially as it pertains to their own community.
Through the years, several school service-learning projects have been created by Albion students with the Erie Canal as the main attraction.
Just this year a group of Albion Middle School students worked with the Orleans County historian on an interpretive panel that told the story of the Erie Canal’s impact on our community. The panel was completed and installed in early July.
The amount of information students learned about Albion and the Erie Canal helped them make connections with Albion’s prosperity in the early years due to the growth of the Erie Canal. The community sprang up all around the canal as a result of the “express waterway” and our farmers thrived; we became the “breadbasket of the United States.”
Additional projects include the creation of local services maps for canal visitors as well as a larger downtown map located on the canal park gazebo. These maps help visitors to seek locations of services in our village. Students planted trees, flowers, added umbrellas to picnic tables for shade, helped with canal counts of boaters, bicyclists and pedestrians, participated in canal clean sweep events, created and placed “Welcome to Albion” signs at the entrances to Albion along the canal, painted a packet boat mural, and painted the canal gazebo. All of these projects help create a sense of community pride and place.
In September students heard about the Tug Urger and possible plans to place it at a New York State Thruway stop. These students signed a petition to #SaveTheUrger. They sent the petition to New York Power Authority and the New York State Canal Corporation.
Yes, even young people can participate in their community and express their concerns about things they care about. Citizenship starts in our own backyard.