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Spring Report Card: Lots of Really Excellent Student Work Taking Place

March 14, 2012Patrick NunnallyProgram & AnnouncementsComments Off on Spring Report Card: Lots of Really Excellent Student Work Taking Place

We sent the text below out via email to some of our partners and friends on and off campus.  So we don’t spam everyone we know, we’re reprinting our “midterm report” in the blog.  Comments are always welcome!

As expected, this year has gotten off to a very busy start.  Here’s a sample of what we’ve been up to:

Mapping Water 

Please join us on Thursday March 22, at 4:00 for a program examining the past and future (s) of the Upper Riverfront in Minneapolis.  I’ll be showing historic maps and photographs, and Mary deLaittre, President of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, will be discussing next steps in the RiverFIRST project.  The program is in 125 Nolte Center on the East Bank.

Research Interns

Our first cohort of University Honors Program-National Park Service Research Interns is developing some really outstanding projects.  Here’s what they’re doing:

  • Amal Gazey, junior, Education/Human Development; proposing a program to get Muslim women students physically active in the National Park through ranger-led hikes, bike events.
  • Abbie Hanson, junior, Biological Sciences; researching the collaborative education model offered by the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure, Minneapolis.
  • Dan Hnilicka, senior, Ag and Natural Resources; researching the collaborative habitat restoration efforts on Pool 8 on the Mississippi, near LaCrosse, WI.
  • Jack Kelly, junior, Liberal Arts; proposing a student writing contest that would open the National Park up to more students at the U of MN.
  • Alicia Nelson, sophomore, Liberal Arts; proposing a student photography contest that would strengthen the connectins between U of MN students and the National Park.
  • Jennifer Nicklay, senior, Biological Sciences; researching the habitat restoration project at the Loosahatchie Bar, on the Mississippi near Memphis.
  • Simge Okut, first-year student, Liberal Arts,; researching national models for university based student and community engagement programs on rivers.
  • Jon Schroeder, senior, School of Management; researching the development and lessons learned from collaborative efforts at the Riverlands Center, near St. Louis.
  • Stephanie Schumacher, senior, Ag and Natural Resources;  researching the faculty resources at the U of MN and other area colleges that can be applied to National Park Service knowledge needs.

Look for all of these projects to be posted on the River Life web site in the coming months, and stay tuned for further news and updates on the writing and photography contests!

Recruiting for the next cohort, to work on projects during summer/fall 2012, is under way.

River Life receives grant from St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board

The St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board has awarded the River Life program a grant to develop and test digital interpretation for an area on the west bank of the river near downtown Minneapolis.  We’ll work with students to gather digital information that can be used to tell stories, show pictures, and otherwise convey the importance of this landscape.  And we’ll test the results with other students:  What would help them become interested in the St. Anthony Falls area?  There are literally tens of thousands potential visitors to the Heritage District living, working and studying within 2 miles of St. Anthony Falls:  how can those students learn about the River?

The new grant follows up on a present contract River Life has to map the existing interpretive features around St. Anthony Falls.  Look for that material to be posted to the River Atlas in the next few weeks!

Professional Student Masters work on river topics

As we build the River Life program, one of the most important strands is our work with professional students, who go on to become significant contributors to the community of practice on rivers and water.  This year, there are six spring graduates with River Life connections:

  • Seth Bossert, Masters in Landscape Architecture (MLA),  is designing a vision of Nicollet Island in Minneapolis as a “test nursery” for vegetative response to climate change.
  • Tom Campbell, MLA, is designing interpretive landscapes at Pike Island, at the Minnesota/Mississippi confluence, that are sensitive to the area’s rich Dakots heritage.
  • Paula Guetter, MS Water Resource Science, is a former River Life research assistant and now on the staff at the National Park Service.  Her study focuses on stakeholder perceptions of sustainable watershed management.
  • Sandra Meulners, MLA, is designing future park and recreation landscapes at the Scherer site, in Northeast Minneapolis.
  • Will St Germaine, M Architecture, is exploring concepts for a network of diversified sites throughout the Twin Cities river corridor where indigenous sense of place can be conveyed.
  • Tony Wotzka, MLA, is developing design ideas for the Stillwater MN riverfront.

Through students such as these the “real work” of river planning, design, and management moves toward sustainability.

Web updates

As always, our web platforms and social media outlets are central to our work.  We’ve worked to integrate what we post to the River Portal (microblog entries on science, planning, and engagement),River Talk (our blog) Facebook and Twitter.  Go to to learn more and stay connected.

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