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About RiverQuest


RiverQuest is a non-profit educational organization that operates a river learning center for students, teachers and the community of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh Voyager, Inc. was founded in 1991 by a group of parents who wanted use Pittsburgh's rivers as an experiential classroom to get children excited about science, mathematics and learning. The agency began working with students in 1995, and in 2006 began working under the name RiverQuest.

RiverQuest programs engage students of all ages in hands-on learning while exploring Pittsburgh's Three Rivers. The rivers themselves are at the center of RiverQuest's education program. A custom-constructed state-of-the art green educational vessel, Explorer, arrived in Pittsburgh in late 2008 and began full service in 2009.  Click here to learn more about the history of the RiverQuest fleet.

RiverQuest's educational philosophy is familiar and time-tested: Tell me, I'll forget; Show me, I might remember; Involve me, I'll understand. RiverQuest offers educational services in two general categories that support this philosophy.

Formal Education Programs for students and teachers in elementary through high school provide innovative river-based experiential education programs that motivate students to learn, enhance school curricula by linking classroom theory to real-world applications, improve critical thinking and cooperative learning, and instill a new understanding and appreciation for the region's waterways. RiverQuest's Formal Education Programs include teacher training, a classroom preparatory and follow-up curriculum, and an in-depth field experience aboard a RiverQuest vessel. RiverQuest's Formal Education Program menu includes Environmental Science on the Three Rivers, Boats Bridges and Water, RiverTales, college programs and professional development workshops for teachers.

Public Ticketed Programs and Summer Camps present educational and interpretive opportunities for the public to learn about and experience the natural beauty and rich history of Pittsburgh's waterways. These programs also strive to instill in the public a new understanding and appreciation of the rivers that will ultimately result in a new sense of stewardship towards them.   Also included in this category of offerings are Adventure Voyages Education Charters and Scout Programs.

The heart and soul of RiverQuest's operations and its success is the staff, volunteer board, and community agencies that support its educational goals. A volunteer Board of Directors governs RiverQuest. The staff includes full-time, part-time and seasonal employees that work in Education and Outreach, Boat Operations, and Administration and Development.

RiverQuest Timeline:


RiverQuest school programs have served nearly 100,000 students since the programs began sailing in 1995.  Another 100,000 of the general public have also participated in RiverQuest programs on land and water.  The RiverQuest board announces that a program partner will be sought in order to preserve the RiverQuest education program in the face of revenue and funding reductions.


Explorer winters in Dunlevy, PA for the completion of a 5-year drydock inspection by the US Coast Guard. RiverQuest's traveling program Exploring Marcellus Shale receives the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence.


RiverQuest launches a traveling program called Exploring Marcellus Shale.  Funding from PA Department of Environmental Protection and EQT Foundation provides the program to more than 4,500 people. A new on-board education program called Marcellus Shale + River Ecosystems launches for grades 4-12. 


RiverQuest launches a new formal education program called Environment, Energy & Economy for grades 5-12.   The program examines environmental health and natural resources as they relate to populations and commerce. Marcellus Shale is the featured topic for 2011 Saturday Sails.


RiverQuest education programs, including Environmental Science on the Three Rivers and World Environment Day-themed Pittsburgh's HUMAN NATURE serve nearly 5,000 students in one school year, a new record.   RiverQuest observes the 15th anniversary of school programs on the rivers with Pittsburgh Voyager and RiverQuest, from July 2010 through June 2011.


Explorer begins full operations, serving RiverQuest school programs and educational charters.  The vessels Scout and Discovery are retired from RiverQuest after many years of faithful service. First-ever Saturday public sails with ticketing services provided by next-door Carnegie Science Center are implemented.


Explorer arrives in Pittsburgh to be outfitted to serve groups in spring 2009.  WorkBoat Magazine awards the vessel its first-ever Environmental Award.  Prior to full operations, the docked vessel is employed as a laboratory space during school programs, until full operations begin in 2009.


The vessel Voyager is retired from RiverQuest service. A newly constructed vessel, Explorer, is being readied for service in Pittsburgh. In the interim, RiverQuest conducts full programming from the land and water, utilizing the vessel Discovery and a rented space at Carnegie Science Center. 


Pittsburgh Voyager announces that it will operate under the name RiverQuest.  A new electronic newsletter, WAVES, is distributed to more than 5,000 people a month.


Discovery travels north to Kittanning on the Allegheny River for Armstrong County Community River-Ventures programs, in conjunction with Crooked Creek Environmental Learning Center and school and community leaders.

This program runs through 2008. 


First Beaver County Community River-Ventures take the program northwest on the Ohio River onboard Scout, to the Beaver River and Brady's Run Park. This satellite program continues through 2007.


First Greene County Community River-Ventures take the program south on the Monongahela River onboard Scout, to Rice's Landing and Pumpkin Run Park.  This satellite program continues through 2007.


Renovations to Scout, a houseboat-style laboratory vessel that can access more shallow waterways, are completed. 


Discovery launched; pilot season for Boats, Bridges and Water School Program.


YP-676 (to be called "Discovery") journeys from New Orleans to Pittsburgh, pilot season for Summer Camp and Adventure Voyages, administrative offices moved from the South Side to the North Shore.


Dock completed, Voyager launched and pilot season for Environmental Science School Program is conducted.


First boat crew and education staff are hired.


Pittsburgh Voyager obtains nonprofit status, receives key planning grants, YP-677 (to be called "Voyager") journeys from San Diego to Pittsburgh.


Pittsburgh Voyager is incorporated.