In our 19 years of working on the river, we’ve never experienced the magnitude of water coming down the Missouri River as we did in 2019. The flood of 19 wiped out roads and highways, covered farms in sand and devoured levees. At the same time it has created a flourishing habitat for birds and amphibians and reshaped the face of the river. It has also left many people along the river’s floodplain vulnerable.
Times of extreme weather and flooding like this highlight the need for increased knowledge and understanding of our river systems by those that live along this important river valley. Missouri River Relief is committed to educating and helping create a more engaged citizenry. The river needs our voice.
We are proud to have developed a number of new Education Programs this year, while carrying on existing programs that we’ve designed to be “deep and sticky”, such as Missouri River Days, Missouri River Academy and a variety River Excursions. We get to connect with groups like the Department of Natural Resources, working with state employees to explore and discuss river policies amd their impacts. Our programs weave together the history of this river and its importance to the people and economy of the Missouri River valley. In 2019 Missouri River Relief worked with 2,534 students and teachers who spent a total of 5,077 hours on-the-river.
7 Educator Workshops were offered to share our knowledge about the river, program framework and instructional strategies for place-based learning, with 298 Educators. Place-based education is a growing field which keeps education grounded in local communities, but encourages students to inquire more in-depth about topics, we want that topic to be the Missouri River!
For the second year in a row, we’ve partnered with the University of Missouri’s College of Education on our “Missouri River All Stars After-School” program to research how students explore socio-scientific issues while supporting science learning and the development of scientific literacy. This helps students develop their scientific thinking, argumentation skills, and moral reasoning.
In the spring of 2019, in partnership with the College of Education, we shared our program research at the National Science Teacher Association Conference. The research findings as portrayed below, saw students more accurately understand that scientists' should not always follow a set method, but instead should utilize many methods including researching pallid sturgeon in their natural environment. Students also understood that disagreement among scientists were a normal and important component of scientific processes.
Somehow we “eeked” out all four of our large-scale Missouri River Clean-ups, despite a very high-water year, and several post-ponements. The Washington River Festival and Clean-up landed right in a perfect window between flood crests, and it was our biggest and best festival yet. The river came up to meet us as we celebrated it, and gave it some love.
We hosted clean-ups in two completely new places that had never been cleaned up before, Fort Osage (near Sibley, MO) and Weldon Spring (near St. Charles). We also did a special Katy Trail Clean-up following a very long and severe flood at our home port, Cooper’s Landing.
In Jefferson City, we were shocked by the amount of trash in this section of river. Volunteers recovered 176 large chunks of Styrofoam that had been carried across the river by a tornado near the capital on May 22. Between trash carried in by the summer's flood and debris scattered by the tornado, there was a lot of work to do. Thanks to the 200 hardy volunteers that came out despite a 100% chance of chilly rain.
It was a highly successful season, in which we saw over 1,100 volunteers help remove 19.5 TONS of trash from the river. Thanks to our many volunteers, partners and sponsors, we were able to accomplished so much!
2019 was a big year of growth and capacity building.
At the beginning of the year, we welcomed our first ever, passenger-hauling boat, the “Lucia”. Along with a slick stallion to pull her with, a Ford F250 we call the “Chad”. Both named after people that have inspired and supported Missouri River Relief throughout the years.
River Relief also welcomed 2 interns and an AmeriCorps VISTA this year, all dedicated to helping finesse and grow Missouri River Relief’s Education Programs.
We helped with safety boats for 5 paddle events, shepherding 323 paddlers down the river in the Spring 12, Race for the Rivers, Paddle MO, Race to the Dome, and even the 3-time postponed and then finally “cancelled” MR340 Race. When they announced a record-breaking “Rocket Run” between three teams (only one boat finished), we were there.
River Relief held 3 record-breaking fundraising events -
We are also kind of amazed that this year marked 10 Years of hosting the Big Muddy Speaker Series in Rocheport! The Big Muddy Speaker Series is created and inspired by a partnership of organizations with a common goal – to deepen the connection of our communities to the river that connects us to each other. All presentations are free, and each presenter is donating their time. We are honored to learn from presenters representing the US Geological Survey, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Mo. Dept. of Conservation, Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources, the University of Missouri, regional non-profits, local authors, historians and many more.
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, National Great Rivers Education & Research Center, Big Muddy Adventures, Mo. River Bird Observatory, Living Lands & Waters, Washington River Festival Committee, Jackson County Parks, City of Washington, Cooper's Landing, Arnold Stream Team 211, City of Sibley, Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, Access Arts, Wildy's World, Columbia Art League, BEETLES, Orr Street Studios, Katfish Katy's, Stream Teams United, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bryan Haynes Art Gallery, Alpine Shop, City of Jefferson, City of Columbia, Healthy Rivers Partnership, Rivermiles, Paddle Stop New Haven, R.E.I, U.S. Geological Survey, Eastern Missouri Dark Sky Observers, Les Bourgeois Bistro, Logboat Brewing, The Blue Note, City of Sibley, Fort Osage National Historic Site, Budget Dumpster, Republic Services, Jim's Tire Salvage, Beasley Fish Market, 4 Hands Brewing, Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper, Mo. Coalition for the Environment, Astral Glass Studio, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Master Naturalists, Camp Trinity, University of Missouri School of Education, Missouri Environmental Education Association, Katy Trail B&B, MU Center for Agroforestry & League of Watershed Guardians.
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 clean-ups, education programs and recreation opportunities.
Since 2001, we have worked 183 River Clean-ups, bringing 27,838 volunteers to clean 940 tons of trash from 1,282 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 2019 was one of many successes, a flock of reschedules and constant attention to river projections. We are grateful to all of you that rode the ups and downs of the river with us this year. SYOTR in 2020!