Many volunteer organizations, schools, local park departments, and nonprofits use the river as an outdoor classroom. Many of these educational activities are available to local residents and visitors to the area and water trail. The majority of activities are offered at no-charge to the public. Paddling safety courses are also offered and promoted throughout the watershed.

There are numerous schools that sit along the river, in many cases a local teacher utilizes the river as a learning environment. Holly Public Schools, Byron Public Schools, and Corunna Public Schools all performing nature study along the banks of the Shiawassee River as a part of their curriculum.

Historical societies also provide cultural and historic perspectives on the river and its role in the development of the region.

The Friends of the Shiawassee River (FOSR) coordinates a stream monitoring program, assembling local stream teams of volunteers, with a focus on youth, to conduct benthic macroinvertebrate sampling on the river. The program offers a great educational opportunity on stream ecology and water quality. DeVries Nature Conservancy also conducts stream monitoring training for school-aged children. The FOSR also offers ongoing workshops and educational programs on various topics as a part of their Winter Speaker Series and Annual Meeting guest speakers.

There are several educational and interpretive guides that exist for the Shiawassee River, namely the Shiawassee River Canoe/Kayak Guide, a descriptive guide for paddlers on launch sites, river conditions and character, and natural and historic highlights. The guide is offered in an interpretive format and in summary form as a tri-fold brochure.  The guide covers the sections from Byron to Oakley. A paddling brochure was also created by Coalition members featuring river access and amenities for the entire 88-mile length of the trail from Holly to Chesaning.

Interpretive signage is present at water trail launch sites in Holly, Fenton, Linden, and Argentine thanks to fundraising and planning efforts by Oakland County, Headwaters Trails Inc., University of Michigan-Flint, and Keepers of the Shiawassee.

The public is invited to attend ongoing paddles from May-October with Keepers of the Shiawassee, while Headwaters Trails offers an annual Adventure Paddle held during the second Sunday in June, and the Canoeing in Color adventure paddle in the first Saturday in October. Keepers also coordinates paddling safety workshops and demo days at local events in the Fenton and Linden area.

Educational programs are offered by multiple organizations including Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation, DeVries Nature Conservancy, MSU Extension, Headwaters Trails, the Shiawassee Conservation Association, Keepers of the Shiawassee, and FOSR. Notable examples include: