More than 2,000 Students Expected to Learn More About Canals’ Rich Legacy and How Canals Operate 

For Immediate Release: 09/21/18

ALBANY—The New York State Canal Corporation has launched the fall season of its education program, which teaches elementary-school students about how the Erie Canal and the state Canal System works and why they are an essential component to the State's heritage as well as its future.

Through field trips to Canal sites and classroom visits, Canals staff teach not only about the history of the canals and how they operate, but also about their role in environmental stewardship.

"This program is a great opportunity for students to be exposed to the history of our canals and how they helped New York become the Empire State," said Brian U. Stratton, New York State Canal Corporation director. "The education program offers a hands-on opportunity for students to learn about the Canal System in operation today, 100 years after its opening. For many kids, these trips are a highlight of the school year."

The education program complements the State’s fourth-grade curriculum on New York State history, which includes a unit on the Erie Canal. However, it can be augmented to accommodate any grade level. The program typically hosts or visits 25 to 30 schools per session, rotating students through multiple stations. The program is also offered in the spring.

When students visit a canal lock, they can see how boats are raised and lowered in the canal. Presentations often feature a working-scale model of a lock. Staff also use a large map of the Canal System to show the breadth of the 524-mile waterway and how its creation enabled many towns and cities to prosper.

Students also learn about how the canals operate today and why they remain important to New Yorkers and visitors. Whenever possible, canal staff weave in local history – highlighting local residents' contributions to the creation of the canal and stories about businesses that thrived along the canal as well as those that continue to do so today -- to make the lessons more relatable.

For classes that cannot get to the canals, the Canal Corporation has also begun visiting schools where individual classes or entire grades watch a short slide presentation about the canals and interact with a large table-top map as well as a small model lock. Special arrangements can also be made for students to view a live-stream presentation and tour a historic Canal vessel.

To reserve a slot in the canal educational program, call 518-449-6028. View additional education resources.

About the New York State Canal Corporation

New York's canal system includes four historic canals: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca. Spanning 524 miles, the waterway links the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain. The canals form the backbone of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and connect hundreds of unique and historic communities. In 2018, New York is celebrating the bicentennial of the start of the Erie Canal's construction.

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Steven Gosset
Media Relations
(914) 390-8192