Cal Fremling boat to provide hands on learning of Mississippi River

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Students at one area university will be getting out of the classroom and onto the water.

“There really isn’t a boat like this anywhere nearby,” said retired Winona State University sociology professor and boat committee member Jim Reynolds.

That boat is the Cal Fremling.

It’s Winona State University’s floating classroom and interpretive center.

Retired sociology professor and boat committee member Jim Reynolds said the Cal Fremling will provide a hands on learning experience about the Mississippi River.

“If you want to teach about the river, and have people develop a greater understanding and appreciation for the river, then it’s best to get them out on the river,” said Reynolds.

The boat will be available for students from elementary through college levels.

It will also be available to community groups, businesses and corporations.

The Cal Fremling holds 49 passengers, has two levels and is climate controlled.

It also has wireless Internet and the capability to live stream classes.

Reynolds said Winona State had a boat before, but it didn’t hold as many people, and wasn’t equipped as a classroom.

The approximately $1.4 million dollar boat is named after the late Cal Fremling, a former Winona State University biology professor and a river enthusiast.

Boat captain Rudy Beshensky said on Thursday the U.S. Coast Guard was in La Crosse to conduct stability testing on the Cal Fremling.

“It’s a function of taking 55 gallon barrels of water that are full by the way weighing about 450 pounds each, putting them on the boat, and it’s to verify the capacity of the persons aboard that are allowed,” said Beshensky.

The Cal Fremling is set to arrive at the Port of Winona on Friday, June 6.

A celebration will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Levee Park.

The boat also went out on the Mississippi for sea trials, which tests how it handles on the open water.

Winona State is still raising funds for the Cal Fremling and its programming.

If you’d like to help, contact the advancement office at 507457-5020.

You can also donate online.

If you’re interested in renting the Cal Fremling call 507-457-BOAT.

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