You’ve heard it here before, but it bears repeating: our students are some of the greatest “products” of our University. Every year at this time we send a new group out to save the world (and man, sometimes it sure seems to need saving!) and mix our sadness at seeing them go with excitement for their new beginnings.
This year, three individuals and one group merit special attention.
Rachel Hines is an Honors graduate in Anthropology, specializing in archaeology. Her senior thesis focused on the archaeological potential at Bohemian Flats, a small plot of river bottom land near the University campus. Rachel’s project assessed the likelihood of arcaheological sites being found in the park and wrote up a model lesson plan that could be offered to middle school students.
What made her work truly remarkable, though, was the fact that she actually did very substantial research in census records and newspaper archives, as well as historical maps, to identify who lived where in the small riverside community on the flats between 1880-1930. I’ve worked around this subject for better than 15 years, and have never seen a historian, professional or amateur, actually take the time to look the households on the flats. A real contribution to knowledge, Rachel!
Abbie Hanson is another senior Honors student who has made a significant contribution to river resource management along the Mississippi in the Twin Cities. Abbie, a Biology major, undertook a 2 part project. As an internship for the National Park Service, she conducted a survey of strategies to remove invasive vegetation in local park systems throughout the Twin Cities Mississippi River corridor. This work, which Park Service staff can map for further analysis, was received with great enthusiasm, “We can really use this to help local partners be more efficient,” reported a resource management specialist.
The second part of Abbie’s study was her actual thesis, conducted under the direction of Professor Rebecca Montgomery in the University’s Forestry Department. The thesis tested hypotheses about the distribution of invasive woody vegetation along urban-suburban-rural gradients in the metropolitan area, reaching conclusions that may help land managers target efforts to control invasives before they are fully established.
Our third student, Erin Aadalen, is actually a member of the National Park Service staff in addition to being a senior specializing in Environmental Education and Communication. In between her park duties and school work, Erin served as vice president of the University’s River Rangers student group, helping manage a year of unprecedented growth in membership and programming. Her park service boss, Dan Dressler, reports that “ Erin’s enthusiasm for sharing nature with both children and peers is infectious.”
After graduation, Erin heads west to take a position as a park ranger at the Grand Canyon National Park, a really coveted posting within the service.
Finally, a group of graduate students in Landscape Architecture has achieved an unparalleled success in their field. As this blog post from the College of Design describes, the student studio led by Matthew Tucker and Craig Wilson has been awarded the 2013 Professional Award of Excellence in the category “Unbuilt Works” from the Minnesota chapter of the American Society for Landscape Architecture. Yes, this is the top award, in competition with both professional and student entrants.
The studio’s work on the Duwamish River, in Seattle WA explored potential futures for the heavily industrial, degraded river valley that is nevertheless undergring rapid transformations. More on the studio’s work can be found here.
Work like that of the Duwamish studio exemplifies some of the greatest contributions our students can make to practices of river management and restoration. We ask our students to be visionary, imagining the future as it might be with some specific roadblocks removed, rather than fanciful, dreaming up “anything goes” for our future landscapes. These visions of what’s possible are what drive our practices forward.
If you haven’t yet applied for the 2013 Gordon Conference and Seminar on Catchment Science, now’s the time! The last day for applications is May 18.
This is a fantastic opportunity for networking and professional growth for anyone involved in catchment science – watershed hydrology, biogeochemistry, ecology, you name it. I’m the American Co-Chair for the Gordon Seminar for early-career scientists, and I can endorse this opportunity enough! The theme of the 2013 conference is Catchments Through the Looking Glass: From Microscopes to Telescopes
Gordon Conferences are small, with just a single track of invited talks; most people present posters, which everyone attends; and it’s held at a small boarding school, so everyone is eating, playing, and talking together. It’s a fantastic venue for learning and building networks, and 2013 marks only the second time a special Gordon Research Seminar has been added specifically for early-career researchers (PhD-students, Post-Docs). We’re thrilled to have gotten NSF funding to partially offset the registration cost for anyone attending both the Seminar and Conference.
A few slots remain, so apply today! The deadline for applications is May 18
Please let your colleagues and especially students and postdocs you think would be interested know about this great opportunity!
Hello River Rangers!
Here are the last two events we will be having for the Spring semester:
End of the Year Meeting:
Thursday, May 2nd
6pm, meet on the Coffman front steps (the side facing the mall)
Join us for our last meeting of the semester where we will be taking a short river walk along the Mississippi River before hanging out as a group by East River Flats and the University Boathouse. Free food will be provided! If there is poor weather, we will still meet at 6 on the front steps, but spend our meeting inside Coffman Memorial Union.
Biking and Geocaching Event
Saturday, May 4th
1pm-3pm, meet on the Coffman front steps (the side facing the mall)
This will be our last event of the school year! With the a National Park Service Ranger we will be biking to areas along the river where geocaches have been hidden. If you haven’t been geocaching before or are looking for awesome areas along the river to explore, this will be a great event for you!
We only have 20 spots open and two bikes available to borrow. If you would like to sign up email Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Helmets are also required and there are many of them available, let us know if you also need a helmet.
We hope to see some new faces at these two events – check out the photos of our Bike with a Ranger event last Fall! Have a great rest of your spring semester and hopefully we will get some nice weather soon!
Ellen Folman, River Rangers President
Every year, American Rivers puts out its “Most Endangered Rivers” list, an event that serves to rally the river advocacy community around a few top threats around the country. Every year, the list, found here, highlights small formerly-obscure rivers as well as a few of the “headliners,” such as the Colorado or the Mississippi. While the threats are disheartening, the range of efforts being made to address those threats is always instructive.
One thing that stood out on this year’s list is the number of rivers that are listed because of “outdated water management” that pays insufficient to the range of goods and services that our rivers provide. It seems to me that a systematic study of those water management plans, and how they might be improved, combined with examples of really good water management plans, would be a great study, highly valuable to all of us engaged in this work of planning toward sustainable, multi-functional rivers.
Another interesting question: how has the Most Endangered list changed over time and what do those changes tell us? If the earlier threats aren’t showing up as rationales for inclusion, does that mean the “state of the rivers” is improving, at least in terms of response to some types of threat?
Anyone know of such a study, or one approximating it? Maybe we’ll have to start one up here–got a lot of students looking for good projects!
The Great River Gathering, St. Paul’s annual “town dinner” celebrating its connection to the Mississippi River, is coming up quickly,on May 9.
Here are some reasons why this 19th version of the dinner promises to be a “can’t miss” gathering:
- In addition to being sold out, the RiverWork Exhibit gallery features more than 50 organizations working to make Saint Paul great. Each of their displays tells a piece of the story of where our city is headed. If this doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.
- Following dinner, the program opens with our anthem, Flow River Flow, this year performed by the Real Phonic Band and song in three languages. With this musical support, we present a video of the development highlights of 2012. There is so much to celebrate from the past year.
- This year’s keynote speaker is Katherine Loflin, who will have been with us for the entire week for the 2nd Annual Placemaking Residency. Loflin is renowned for her work surrounding resident attachment to their cities, why it matters, and what we can do about it.
- The 25-30 semifinalists of the $1 million Minnesota Idea Open will be introduced. Was yours among the 946 ideas submitted? Perhaps you will be one of the finalists!
- The evening is capped off with the inspiring words of Mayor Chris Coleman, as he paints the picture for Saint Paul’s future.
Like many other river cities and towns, St. Paul “gets it”: a healthy river is vital to the future of a healthy community, and, just as important, a healthy community is vital to a healthy river.
The Great River Gathering is organized and hosted by the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation, which has been in the middle of everything “river-ish” that the city has done for the past 15+ years. Go to the Riverfront Corporation’s web site to learn more and to register for the Great River Gathering.
Hope to see you there!
From our colleagues/partners at the Institute for Advanced Study:
Poetry by the river—east bank of the river, near U of M campus, April 30, 4 p.m.
“Water, is taught by thirst / Land—by the oceans passed,” writes Emily Dickinson. This talk will consider various ways in which poets like Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Derek Walcott, and others envision water in some of their well-known poems. While differing in their means, ultimately these poets share a particular vision of water as both a physical site and a site for evoking reflection.
This talk will be located at the River Park Flats on the Mississippi bank (located on the grassy area directly behind the Medical Center on the East Bank campus off Harvard Street. Attendees can meet at the patio door of Coffman at 3:40 to walk over together.
Amir Hussain graduated from the University of Minnesota with an MFA in Creative Writing last May, where he wrote a poetry thesis that explored human relations to nature. He holds a BA in Environmental Studies and Writing from the University of Pittsburgh.
No guarantees that the snow will have stopped for the season, but very early predictions show temps around 70!
Sometimes the most apparently simple acts carry the most profound possibilities for meaning. Last March 1, a group of indigenous women left Lake Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota, on a walk that will take them to the Gulf of Mexico. They are carrying a pail of water from the headwaters to the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf.
Sharon Day is a leader of the effort. “We want the walk to be a prayer,” Day says. “Every step we take we will be praying for and thinking of the water. The water has given us life and now, we will support the water.”
To learn more, and to support the group, go to their Facebook page. That page also links to a site which tracks the walk’s progress. Today, they are in northern Mississippi, 50 miles or so south of Memphis.
In February, we convened an afternoon of presentations by University of Minnesota faculty to hear about work being done on the Mississippi River, and to foster a discussion of next steps.
In this video, you can hear from Carissa Schively-Slotterback, Associate Professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, as she talks about her work as the Director of the Urban and Regional Planning Program, and as the founder and faculty director of the Resilient Communities Project.
At our last meeting, we reviewed the remaining River Rangers events for the spring, as well as elected new officers for the 2013-2014 school year. Here is what you may have missed:
Spring Semester Event Details:
Earth Day Clean-Up
Friday, April 19th, 3-5pm
This service event is in coordination with the Sustainability Advocates and will take place near the Superblock Area of campus (the area around Centennial, Pioneer, Frontier and Territorial Halls on East Bank).
Earth Day Celebration
Monday, April 22nd, 11:00am – 2pm
River Rangers will be participating in the first annual event “Celebrating Earth Day and Outdoor Recreation” on the Coffman Memorial Union Front Lawn (North side of the building, by the front entrance). Stop by the River Rangers table for your chance to win an exclusive button and check out a huge map of the Mississippi River running through campus! Email Ellen Folman if you would like to help out at the table.
End of the Year Meeting/Cookout
Thursday, May 2nd, 5:30pm – ?
Join us as we celebrate the end of the school year by having our last meeting down by East River Flats and the U of M Boathouse! We will have some food available, as well as group activities to participate in.
Bike and Geocache with a Ranger!
Saturday, May 4th, 1-3
Meet on the mall side (front entrance, North side) of Coffman Memorial Union
Ever tried geocaching or biked around the Mississippi? If not (or even if you have) join River Rangers and a National Park Service Ranger as we take part in a “modern day treasure hunt” around the river! GPS units will be provided. For further information email Erin Aadalen.
Email email@example.com if you would like to join our email list or would like to participate in any of these events! Further information will be sent out via email, as well as posted on our Facebook Page.
President: Reba Juetten
Vice President: Liz Lien
Secretary: John Krause
Treasurer: Sarah Schroeder
Web Master: Agnes Hong
Program Developer: Ellen Folman
Congratulations to the new River Rangers officers!
We hope to see you at an upcoming event,
River Rangers Officers, firstname.lastname@example.org
Planning for the long term health and vitality of the Mississippi River corridor in the Twin Cities should get a strong boost tonight when the St. Paul City Council votes on whether to adopt the “Great River Passage plan, which sets a framework for development and preservation for the next several decades. Articles here and here provide more detail on the plan and supporters’ goals.
When combined with the “River First” plan for Minneapolis’ riverfront above St. Anthony Falls, the St. Paul action ensures that some 30 miles of urban riverfront has a framework for planning and design well into the 21st century.
The importance of these plans cannot be overstated. The challenges facing urban riverfronts, particularly on the Mississippi, are complex and dynamic; a solid yet flexible approach to public investment on these corridors is absolutely necessary if waterfronts are to be the engines of urban placemaking going forward.
Stay tuned to this site for further updates on systemic Mississippi River challenges and solutions; in the meantime read the plans and participate in the local riverfront efforts.
And, with a forecast for 6-10 inches of snow in the Twin Cities (yes, it is April, but spring hasn’t come to us yet), dream of bike rides to come along restored urban riverfronts!