The mission of Missouri River Relief is to connect people to the Missouri River through hands-on river clean-ups, education events and stewardship activities.
It's been 11 years since Missouri River Relief held our first community clean-up in Easley, MO. Cleaning up all the trash on the Missouri River is a daunting goal. Very quickly we realized that the easiest way to get rid of the trash is if it never ends up in the river in the first place.
Education is the key.
Missouri River Relief's Education Program provides on-the-river, hands-on educational activities for children and adults that help foster a better understanding and appreciation of the Missouri River. During an event we've started to organize called "Day on the River", we combine Service Learning with hands-on booths from experts in various river related fields, and then actually take students out on the river.
Hands-on learning is the focus. The riverbank is the location. River Relief and its partners bring scientists, educators and volunteers together to share their expertise with hundreds of school children right where it matters most. Through direct experience and a little effort, they walk away with a renewed relationship to the river and more knowledge than they thought they'd gain on a boat trip.
During the last decade, this mission has introduced more than 30,000 students, teachers and volunteers to the beauty and importance of the Missouri River. By teaching the values of clean water and the impacts of human pollution on wildlife and ecosystems, we give our community the knowledge to make change in local evnironmental issues.
We spent two days recently with North Kansas City students from Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology and Staley High School. Experts from the Mo. Dept. of Conservation, National Weather Service, US Geological Survey and US Environmental Protection Agency came to teach students about reptiles, water quality, hydrology and the history of the Missouri River.
During both the morning and afternoon session, Missouri River Relief got to take the kids out on the river to see the sights and clean up a bunch of trash. Most of these students had never been on the river, and we could see doors opening as the day went on. The kids hammed it up with the attention they were getting as we captured the event on camera, and tried to act normal despite their excitement when the TV crews showed up and took this amazing footage:
It also amazes me that the kids that are really into getting trash out of the river always gravitate to the biggest items. Here, both of my student groups went after the biggest tires they could find!
Over the previous several weeks, Fran and Dave Stous, chairs of Missouri River Relief's Education Committee, began to teach lessons in the classroom about the Watershed, Where Trash Comes From, Recycling, and Stormwater from lesson plans that had finnally been formalized and formatted by the committee. Here's a photo of Fran & Dave greeting the buses arriving on Tuesday, Oct. 16th.
Students were then invited to bring their family to our annual Big Muddy River Clean-up in Kansas City, and treated to a free t-shirt, that featured some of Missouri River Relief's favorite wilflife that inhabits the river. A Great Blue Heron and River Turtle! (Okay, the turtle actually pictured is not a river turtle, but close enough)
This project was supported in part by grants from Mid-America Regional Council, Captain Planet Foundation and USFWS Columbia Ecological Services.
Check out our Flickr albums to see all of the wonderful groups we've had the pleasure of getting out on the river in 2012! Here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8478409@N03/collections/72157629674561251/