2020 Results

Finding New Paths Midstream

For 19 years, Missouri River Relief has been working on the Missouri River with the mission of connecting communities to this most important resource. During that time, we’ve built a large community of river lovers. YOU are part of this community, and we’re so grateful to have you along.

2020 has been a year of navigating shifting currents and uncertain channels. In times like this, our community becomes a lifeline. YOU have been that lifeline for us this year.

Your thoughts, ideas, creative volunteering and financial support have fed our souls and helped us become the most resilient version of ourselves. You have told us that our mission is just as important now as it ever has been. THANK YOU.

It’s because of the generosity of folks like you that we are able to make change happen on the river and in the hearts of people that depend on it.  It is what makes great community-based stewardship programs like the St. Charles Cleanup, or Watershed Expeditions at Home possible.

Resilient Results!

Be sure to check out our "Best of" 2020 Photos

We reshaped our river cleanups using small groups over multiple days and asked friends to organize their own independent "Trash Mobs".  We crafted new online education programs connecting students to their watersheds.  We hit the rivers to assist with paddling races and excursions, and more.  Here's what it added up to...

  • 105 "Trash Mobs"
  • 31 Tons of Trash 
  • 644 Volunteers
  • 648 Students
  • 66 Teachers
  • 825 Paddlers
  • 1,969 Presentation Attendees

We built our capacity for more action:

  • hired Development Director Josh McCarroll
  • brought aboard Americorps member Anna Miller
  • purchased a new hauling van with a grant

Reshaping our Programs

Our staff is amazing! Can we just say that? Our staff, volunteers and partners didn’t miss a paddle stroke when 2020 started throwing its roadblocks up. They reshaped our programs for this pandemic world and found innovative ways to remain relevant and impactful to our river and communities. 

We really kicked things into gear with "Trash Mobs", or individual clean-ups.  Like a flash mob, they just sort of started to magically appear!  It is nothing short of amazing how much a small, determined group of individuals can do.  Small groups, making a BIG difference.  The numbers speak for themselves!  105 individual "Trash Mobs" netted  15 TONS of trash!  200+ volunteers, cleaned over 72 miles of streams, streets and parks. Check out this sweet little video of one of our crew members called "Caring is Contagious".  ❤  

The River Relief education team quickly transitioned and designed new programs to reach people virtually, from a virtual educators workshop in Kansas City, to our monthly Big Muddy Speaker Series via Zoom and YouTube. We created new river resources such as the Missouri River Bookshelf and filmed a Virtual River Trip with curriculum to accompany educators. We spread our river knowledge and river resources around via Free Little Libraries and worked with local libraries to reach families at home.

One of the challenges many of us faced this year was a feeling of isolation. Our Education Director Kristen Schulte saw an opportunity to create new connections between people and the watersheds we live in. With Americorps members Laura Semken and Anna Miller, they created “Watershed Expeditions at Home”, providing activities for students and families to enjoy the outdoors from their homes to develop that sense of place. Weekly Zoom chats with other students and virtual field trips help them make connections and new friendships.  We are all connected by water!

I want to give a huge shout out to Mo. River Relief ’s Zoom camp this month. Brooklyn got a huge box of supplies in the mail with three lessons for us to do each week for four weeks. She loved these Zooms because they took them on virtual field trips and played games. Her final week was to do a river project. I took her to Cooper’s Landing where she photographed all the trash laying washed up on the river banks. We had some great conversations on how that affects the animals and their habitat.  - Parent and CPS Teacher Rachel Kinney.


Each one of these programs is only possible with the partnership of so many organizations, agencies and passionate people who give time, expertise and a helping hand. This list includes such wonderful folks as (in no particular order) - Mo. Dept. of Conservation (they do so much to help so many programs), Columbia Public Schools, Missouri Stream Team, Big Muddy Adventures, Mo. River Bird Observatory, Living Lands & Waters, Cooper's Landing, Columbia Rotary South, Hickman Biology Club, Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, Mizzou Alternative Breaks, U.S. Geological Survey, Conservation Federation of Missouri, Future Farmers of America, Arnold Stream Team 211, Columbia Art League, Stream Teams United, Alpine Shop, UST Gear, City of Jefferson, City of Columbia, City of St. Charles, Lewis & Clark Boat House, Rivermiles, Paddle Stop New Haven, Les Bourgeois Bistro, Logboat Brewing, The Blue Note, Budget Dumpster, Republic Services, Jim's Tire Salvage, Boonslick Industries, Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper, Mo. Coalition for the Environment, Astral Glass Studio, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Master Naturalists, Boeing, REI, Brentwood High School, Missouri Environmental Education Association, & League of Watershed Guardians. 

Our Mission

Missouri River Relief is an action-oriented, volunteer and equipment-based non-profit organization dedicated to connecting people and communities to the Missouri River through hands-on, river cleanups, education programs and recreation opportunities.

Since 2001, we have worked 187 River Cleanups, bringing 28,509 Volunteers to clean 970 Tons of trash from 1,399 Miles of the river!  

We ask a lot of our river. The river asks that we be flexible, respectful and resilient. Missouri River Relief practiced all of these attributes this year. The story of our 2020 was one of many challenges, and some silver linings. We are grateful to all of you that rode the ups and downs of the river with us this year.  SYOTR in 2021!

2020 By the Numbers:

Canceled Events (due to the Coronavirus Pandemic):  40
MRR Cleanups:  4
Trash Mobs:  105
Volunteers:  665
Tons of Trash:  31
Tires removed:  669
Miles cleaned:  112
Students:  572
Teachers:  50
Paddling Events:  4
Paddlers:  825
Education Programs:  32
Educator Workshops:  1
Presentations:  62
Outreach Events: 
# of Speaker Series:  15
Attendees:  1,969
Video Engagements:  3,581
Communities:  10+ 
Participant Hours on-the-river:  2,389
Total Participants (volunteers, students, teachers, paddlers, attendees):  4,081

2020 Quick Links:


A Big Muddy THANKS to our Sponsors and Partners -- we could not do this without YOU!  

Read our 2020 Year in Review!

2020 In the News:

December 8, 2020 - Columbia Daily Tribune - "Missouri River Relief goes virtual with annual fourth-grade field trips"

December 7, 2020 - Columbia Daily Tribune - "Rivermiles passes paddle of MR340 race to Missouri River Relief"

November 18, 2020 - Columbia Missourian - "Steve Schnarr and Missouri River Relief, fostering personal connections with environment"

October 24, 2020 - Columbia Daily Tribune - "Masks, basketballs and bottles:  Volunteers brave cold and rain to clear trash from Missouri River"

October 25, 2020 - Columbia Missourian - "Missouri River Relief's clean-up event promotes environmental awareness"

October 2, 2020 - Fulton Sun - "Learning to plan a creek clean-up"

October 2, 2020 - Columbia Missourian - "Missouri River Relief to resume virtual Watershed Expeditions for fall following summer success"

September 19, 2020 - KMOV4 St. Louis - "Volunteers clean along the Missouri River a little differently this year"

August 12, 2020 - St. Charles County Suburban Journals - "Virtual programs Encourage St. Charles County Families to Explore their Local Watershed"  

August 4, 2020 - Mid Rivers News Magazine - "Get to Know Your Local Watershed

July 20, 2020 - Jefferson City News Tribune - "MRRL, MRR offer river cleanup program" 

June 24, 2020 - Missouri Life Magazine - "Picking Up A River"- by Jessica Rendell

June 24, 2020 - KMIZ TV - "Local Groups Receive Funding to Help with Covid-19"by Katie Greathouse

June 12, 2020 - Gasconade Republican - "Missouri River Relief's Watershed Expedition at Home' Offers Virtual 'Camp in a Box' Exeperience, 10 Activities"by Dave Marner

Jan. 26, 2020 - Columbia Missourian - "Missouri River Community Adds Final Touch to Bicentennial Mural" by Evan Musil

Jan. 7, 2020 - Wiki.EZvid video and article - "6 Environmental Organizations Studying and Preserving Bodies of Water"


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This website is created and maintained by Missouri River Relief, P.O. Box 463, Columbia, MO 65205
MRR is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Federal Tax ID (EIN) 03-0425187
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