Mississippi River Basin Agriculture & Water Desk Field Trip 2022

Reporters Come to Learn About the Missouri River


On October 27th we had our very first workshop with the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with 37 journalists. The attendees were a part of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, a journalistic collective that brings together individuals from all over the Mississippi watershed to learn how to effectively write about current environmental issues.  We have dreamed of creating a relationship with the Missouri School of Journalism and this year it happened!

Their first stop was Huntsdale’s own Burr Oak tree where they met with local farmer John Sam Williamson. He belongs to one of five generations who have farmed the land on which the burr oak sits. He said his family's legacy of caring for the Burr Oak tree and shared a window into the world of floodplain farming. 

The group was then bussed to the new Missouri River Center, formerly known as Katfish Katy’s. After everyone gave a brief introduction, they were fitted with lifejackets, given a safety talk, and got onto the fleet of boats ready to explore the Big Muddy. For many of the journalist this was there very first time on the Missouri River. 

“We are thrilled that this program worked out so well! We really appreciate Missouri River Relief’s willingness to be creative and flexible to meet the needs of the program. All of our journalists mentioned that being on the river was a highlight of the conference” 

 -Sara Shipley Hiles, Associate Professor, Executive Director of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk

Photo by Kristen Schulte

Photo by Melanie Cheney

Photo by Steve Schnarr

The boats moved upstream towards the I-70 bridge where they were tied together and gently floated downstream. Missouri River Relief's education director, Kristen Schulte, talked about the channelization of the Missouri River and the animals who once roamed the watershed. While she spoke, the boats floated past a bank scorched by the Woolridge Fire the weekend prior, a sand dredge, and a bald eagle’s nest. The last stop before lunch was Lewis and Clark Cave where Steve Schnarr spoke about the relationship between the Missouri River and Native People. 

Lunch was hosted at the River Center where food from Cajun Crab House was provided. Afterward, the groups piled back into the boats where they floated down towards Cooper’s Landing.

The last stop on the river was at California Island where the journalists and students were able to hear a presentation about the Pallid Sturgeon, a prehistoric fish species native to major North American waterways that are now endangered. This presentation was done by Robb Jacobson & Carrie Elliot with the U.S. Geological Survey River Studies Branch. They spoke on the impacts of channelization on this species and how the government is trying to rehabilitate their ecosystem.

Afterward, we made our way downstream one last time. The journalists attended their last talk of the day with Viv Bennet from the Nature Conservancy. Overall, the day was jam-packed with talks from river experts and new experiences on the river for the journalists. To browse our photos from the day check out our Flickr Album here!


Photo by Kristen Schulte

A Big Muddy Thank You to Our Partners

Missouri River Relief would like to thank all of our presenters, and volunteers who helped bring this project to life. Another thank you goes to our partners at AmeriCorps, Mississippi River Basin Agriculture and Water Desk, University Of Missouri School of Journalism for such an amazing event.

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