Resources for Educators & Youth Groups

Are you an educator, youth group leader, or parent wanting to bring your children and their friends to engage with the Big Muddy? Then you should bring your group to a Missouri River Cleanup!

Here are all the resources and information you need to bring your students or children to a Saturday Missouri River Cleanup. We even have resources you can download to help generate student interest in attending!

Thinking about taking your students or youth group to a Missouri River Cleanup with Missouri River Relief? We’d love to have them! Reach out to us several weeks in advance and let us know you’re interested in bringing a class or group to a Saturday Missouri River Cleanup, and we’ll take it from there! 

I am a parent or guardian who wants to bring my child's friend, is that okay?

Of course, and it is encouraged! Just make sure to download and print the minor risk release form and have the child's parent or guardian sign this before the cleanup. Make sure to bring the completed form to the river cleanup on Saturday! If needed, we can mail you a form for you to get signed prior to the cleanup. Just contact and we would be more than happy to help you out!

How far in advance should you contact us for groups?

To give our staff adequate time to prepare for your group, let us know you’re interested in bringing a student or youth group as soon as possible. We’d prefer to be notified a month or more before the Missouri River Cleanup. With that much lead-time, we can strategize how to best utilize your people power, and we’re more likely to have enough space at the Missouri River Cleanup to accommodate your entire group! We open registration to the public for each cleanup 2 months ahead of the big day, and slots may fill up fast! 

To begin the registration process, reach out to our Stewardship Coordinator, Alyssa Thomas at or by phone at (402) 547-8055.

What is the appropriate group size to bring?

To provide enough space for all parties interested in joining a Missouri River Cleanup, we ask that you limit the number of attendees from school groups to less than 25 individuals, including chaperones and students. If you’re interested in including more students, an education program might be a better-suited experience. If that is the case, check out our education page to learn more!

How many adults should be in attendance?

To ensure the safety of all students in attendance, we encourage other adults to join. Please plan the number of chaperones in accordance with the number of students you’re bringing. We recommend 1 adult for every 4 students.

Who needs to sign a risk-release form?

Any minor without a parent or guardian present will need to bring a Missouri River Relief Student Risk-Release & Media Consent Form signed by a parent/guardian before coming to the Missouri River Cleanup. Please download the forms from our website and disperse them to your students. Teachers and chaperones will have to fill out a Missouri River Relief Adult Risk-Release Form which can be done that morning. Both forms will also be available in the information emails sent out in the weeks leading up to the cleanup. 

How long is a typical Missouri River Cleanup?

A Missouri River cleanup usually lasts about 4-5 hours. Since a handful of those hours are spent doing physical activity, let students know to bring snacks and extra water to tide them over until lunch.

What does a typical Missouri River Cleanup look like?

Here is a general outline of a Missouri River Relief Cleanup (Please note the schedule may vary depending on the location):

8:45 AM: Registration opens. Participants arrive and turn in their risk-release forms and receive a t-shirt, gloves and a reusable water bottle. If you arrive later than 10:00, we may not be able to get you on a boat.

9:00 AM: Participants attend orientation, listen to a safety talk, and get fitted for lifejackets. 

9:00-10:30 AM: The cleanup begins! Attendees will board boats piloted by our experienced captains and will be ferried to pre-scouted trash sites to gather trash for later disposal. 

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM: The same boat that dropped you off will return to take you back to the boat ramp for lunch. Everyone will get to celebrate the day’s work with a well-deserved free lunch! MRR educational activities Clean Rivers Start at Home and Missouri River Explorer Badge will be available for volunteers to participate in.

12:30 PM:  Our lively Trash Contest starts! All cleanup attendees will vote on the best finds of the day.

1:00 PM: The Missouri River Cleanup wraps up and participants depart. 

How will you get your group to the Missouri River Cleanup location?

We encourage you to coordinate carpooling to the Missouri River Cleanup location with students and chaperones beforehand. Missouri River Relief will not be able to provide transportation for you and your students. Directions are given on the cleanup webpage and the information emails sent out in the weeks leading up to the cleanup, but let us know if you need any further assistance in finding the Missouri River Cleanup location.  

How should you prepare your students?

To best prepare your students for a Missouri River Cleanup, please communicate the following to them:

  • Dress in layers for changing weather conditions. 
  • Wear work-appropriate clothing. 
  • Long pants are strongly recommended as weeds and poison ivy can be thick. 
  • Sturdy shoes or boots are required; no sandals or open-toed shoes are allowed on boats
  • Bring sunscreen, bug spray, and snacks to tide them over until lunch. 

What can you expect?

All volunteers will receive a free Big Muddy boat ride, a cool t-shirt, trash bags, a lifejacket, gloves, and a reusable water bottle. A hot lunch will be served around noon. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options will be available for those with dietary restrictions. Please include dietary requests in your online registration so we make sure to order plenty. We'll also have a fun trash treasures contest, a favorite for students and the young at heart. Be sure to hang on to those strange or interesting trash treasures you find!

How can you get students interested in attending a Missouri River Cleanup?

Feel free to download the resources from our website to help generate student interest in attending our cleanup. We have a PowerPoint Slideshow that is brimming with photos and information on Missouri River cleanups! It’s a great tool to use to show a more in-depth look at what a Missouri River cleanup entails, as well as how to best prepare for one. Another resource to utilize is our Missouri River Cleanup poster, which you can download and hang around the classroom to help with student recruitment!

Please note due to the size of the PowerPoint file, the hyperlink is linked to a Google Slides presentation. If you're having trouble viewing the slides, please let us know and we can send the file directly to you!

Why volunteer with Missouri River Relief?

Missouri River Relief is a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting people to the Missouri River through river clean-ups, education programs and recreation events. As a non-profit, our organization is powered by dedicated community members who help us carry out our mission. Since our founding in 2001, with help from over 33,000 volunteers, we have been able to remove over 1,060 tons of trash from the Missouri River, and we are not slowing down anytime soon! We’re continuously looking for volunteers to help us clean up the Big Muddy! 

Thank you for your interest in bringing your students to experience the Missouri River! Participating in a Missouri River cleanup can have lasting effects on students, as they are able to help protect the natural world and see first-hand the effects of improperly and illegally dumped trash. They also have the chance to connect with the Missouri River in a way they most likely wouldn’t - from a boat with Missouri River Relief!

Beyond the cleanup experience, they also have the opportunity to engage in activities outdoors by obtaining their Missouri River Explorer Badge and learn what more they can do beyond the cleanup through Clean Rivers Start at Home!

Space is limited and Missouri River cleanup events tend to fill up quickly. Be sure to reach out to us about bringing your group as soon as possible. 

Ready for Action?

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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