On October 5th we came together with Job Point for our 5th year of bringing members of the YouthBuild program to the Missouri River. Cohorts of Youth Builders from Columbia, Saint Joseph, and Saint Louis were able to join us on the river for a beautiful fall day. The program opened with inspirational words from Representative Kathy Steinhoff and Chris Kennedy, Assistant to the Director of Inclusion and Diversity with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Chris Kennedy began his morning address by asking participants to take out their phones and take notes. He had these four pieces of advice and one warning to share:
Warning: Don't procrastinate.
Chris then interwove his life experiences and career as a fisheries biologist across these four points. He set the tone for the day by encouraging participants to make the most of this opportunity and to take a moment to appreciate the little things.
After morning circle, some participants began their day with a serene moment of art making by the river. YouthBuild members used watercolors to paint the Missouri River landscape and spend time connecting with this special place. Many showed off their artistic flair or pushed through discomfort to try something new. All left with a memory of the Missouri River.
Others headed to hear River Relief crew member, Soda Popp, share about his life on the river and the different ways he fishes for catfish. Several returning participants were excited to see him again, and their friends couldn't believe they were telling the truth about the river legend named Soda. Then, participants loaded onto Missouri Department of Conservation boats and enjoyed a successful day of catching Blue and Channel catfish.
YouthBuild members wait patiently for their first catch of the day. Photo by Lara Cox
The other half of participants began their day with a river cleanup. After getting fitted for life jackets and listening to a safety talk, they boarded boats to sandbars and banks in need of a trash pickup. One group came back with a refrigerator and another with a T.V. All in all, participants hauled 22 bags of trash out of the river. That's about 0.4 tons! But it's not all about the trash. For many, this is the first time they've had a chance to see and interact with the Missouri River. We hope participants leave with new memories and a connection to this place.
Photo by Kristen Schulte
Photo by Kevin Tosie
We would like to give a big muddy thank you guest speakers Kathy Steinhoff and Chris Kennedy, all of our amazing boat captains, and our crew of volunteers for their time and energy. We would also like to thank our partners at Job Point and their staff and volunteers for making such an amazing program like this possible. To see more photos from this program and more, see our Flickr here.
We want to honor a very special person who is responsible for bringing Job Point and Missouri River Relief together. We met Phillip when his mother ran the store at Cooper’s Landing. Phillip and his daughter Willow helped at cleanups in the area. Then Phillip started walking a darker path that led to jail. When he was released, he found help and inspiration at JobPoint and he reached out to us to get more involved.
Phillip learned boat operations and helped at many river cleanups and events. He helped us build our successful ongoing cleanup and education program with Job Point and shared his story with the participants. Phillip was a caring, passionate and visionary person who struggled with mental illness, trauma, and addiction. We are heartbroken by this unnecessary end to Phillip’s story. But let us see in Phillip’s story a reminder to look for the possibility of redemption in those you love.
We put together a photo album you can browse here of Philips adventures with us.
Missouri River Relief would like to extend a Big Muddy thank you to each and every one of the volunteers, guest speakers, and our partners at AmeriCorps for making this possible. We'd also like to thank Cooper's Landing for hosting us.
This event would not have been possible without the enthusiastic participation from Job Point’s volunteers and staff. Missouri River Relief would like to thank Jerrell Morton for continuing to provide new opportunities for those in the YouthBuild program.
Lastly, we are the proud recipients of Athletic Brewing's Two for the Trails grant which was given from their foundation, whose overarching goal it is to protect and restore trails. We are thrilled they supported our efforts to do so on our Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.