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Instilling river sense

Swimming into the swift current of the Snoqualmie River, 14-year-old Brian Jewett of Fall City makes for the southern shore as his fellow teens urge him on, flinging a rope toward him. Jewett, clad in a wetsuit, life jacket and helmet, grabs on and swims to shore.

Crossing the river was just one lesson of many at the first in-river learning session of the summer, held July 5-6 near Fall City and at North Bend's Blue Hole, for the River Sense Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes wisdom on the water.

River Sense Founder and director Viki Okerlund started the project several years ago to create awareness, safety and stewardship programs that help river communities be "river-wise."

The effort began thanks to her teenage son's love of the river.

"It's the pastime of a lot of kids here to raft through the golf courses and dive for golf balls," Okerlund said. "I said he couldn't do that unless he had a river safety class. I couldn't find a river safety class," and so River Sense was born.

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