“Paddle the Pearls” Programs


These on-the-water programs are held on the sheltered Fish Creek Estuary approximately 1/4 mile east of the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, WI. Want an indoor experience?  Paddle down to one of the indoor ed-ventures below.

Interested in using our Fish Creek Estuary ed-venture curriculum?  We are happy to share. Just click here to find it in our environmental education curriculum toolbox.

Paddle the Pearls Estuary On-the-Water Ed-Venture Programs

Take a leisurely paddle in a safe, stable double-seater kayak with a UW-Extension environmental educator to explore the sheltered Fish Creek Estuary. This is our most popular program for youth and adult groups who are interested in learning more about these unique coastal wetlands.

Discover the history, culture, and ecology of these unique wetlands and why they are called “freshwater estuaries.”  Learn about issues, such as climate change, is  facing these unique coastal wetlands and the cultures and communities that rely on them.  Explore what you can do to improve the stewardship of these resources.

A side trip to the Whittlesey Creek Estuary and National Wildlife Refuge is optional depending on wind and water conditions

Trips can be customized to meet special interests such as history/culture, birding, water science, and botany. Consult the Paddle the Pearls Pre-Trip Fact Sheet for more details. A full trip planning packet will be sent upon program registration. Contact Cathy Techtmann-UW Extension Environmental Outreach Specialist at 715.561.2695 or cathy.techtmann@wisc.edu for more information and reservations.

Duration: 2.5  hours.  Cost: $10.00 person. For ages 12 years and above. Minimum group size= 6 people. Maximum group size= 18 people. Available June-September. Limited availability.

Paddle the Pearls: “Leadership Secrets of the Voyageurs” in  Kayaks!

The Fish Creek Estuary was an important site for Native people and  European voyageurs who paddled thousands of miles to trade for furs. Voyageur “brigades” had to function as a team in order to face Lake Superior’s challenges. This unique program uses leadership development tools and on-the-water experiences via safe, stable kayaks to build your group’s teamwork & leadership skills while having paddling fun exploring the Fish Creek Estuary!

Duration: 2.5  hours.  Cost: $15.00 person. For ages 12 years and above. Minimum group size= 10 people. Maximum group size= 14 people. Available June-September. Limited availability.


This indoor estuary ed-venture program is offered at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. 

“A String of Pearls” Video (Indoor movie)    

  Cost: FREE.  Available year ‘round.

Discover Lake Superior’s freshwater estuaries— without getting your feet wet!  Hear the stories of these estuaries from the people who cherish them and learn what is being done today to increase stewardship of these coastal wetlands.

The video is available for viewing on demand at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. Facilitated discussion of the video by UW-Extension educators is available with advanced reservations.

Features the “Sting of Pearls—Wisconsin’s Estuaries Along Lake Superior” award-winning video presentation and discussion.

This video was produced by Cathy Techtmann, directed by Tom Notten and Brent Nottbaum – UW-Superior, and features Native American flute music by Frank Montano.