Group shot at flying fish - cropped


For our national campaign to succeed, it has to be implemented locally, by community leaders and volunteers who are passionate about their region. That is why we have an awesome team assembled for each region along the River. They come from many different backgrounds, but their enthusiasm and commitment to the River is the same. The team will be out and about, up and down the River, recruiting River Citizens, attending education events and organizing special River Citizens events to engage people with the River and each other. Please feel free to contact your local Team Member to learn about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.


Campaign Coordinator: Brooke Thurau

Brooke Thurau joined Bluestem Communications as Campaign Coordinator for the Mississippi River Network (MRN) in March 2016. She helps to advance the MRN’s 1 Mississippi campaign by leading Outreach Assistants and Hosts to build a nationwide community of River Citizens to protect the Mississippi River. Brooke manages the creation and distribution of outreach materials, the website, and the online Action Center. She brings to the position more than ten years of experience in conservation education, campaign management, fundraising, and sustainable tourism. Prior to joining Bluestem Communications, Brooke worked as a consultant for the USDA National Forest Service, taught environmental studies courses at Knox College, and cofounded an environmental nonprofit organization. She holds a B.A. in environmental studies from Northeastern Illinois University and an M.S. in forestry from Southern Illinois University.


Minnesota/Wisconsin: Maria Lee

Find Maria-2Maria Lee is the 1 Mississippi Outreach Assistant located in the Minnesota region. She grew up surrounded by fresh water lakes in Madison, Wisconsin and quickly converted to a lover of moving water when she relocated to the Twin Cities. She is thrilled to work with the region’s host, River Life, at the University of Minnesota, where she is also finishing her bachelor’s degree in Geography. As a geography student, Maria loves learning about the ways communities have been shaped by the river. Previous to joining the 1 Mississippi team, Maria worked as an outdoor educator for the US Forest Service and the National Park Service on the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure (UWCA) partnership to create opportunities for youth to engage with their environment. With her strong commitment to community and an enthusiasm for the river, Maria is a great fit for the Minnesota region!


Missouri/Illinois: Tanner Aljets

Tanner Aljets joined the 1 Mississippi campaign in July 2015 as the Outreach Assistant in the Southern Illinois and Missouri region. He was born and raised in the Alton, Illinois, area. Tanner’s long-standing family connection to the lake where he was born has influenced his love of fish, frogs and nature in general. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking the Mississippi River bluffs, hunting for wild mushrooms, paddling down rivers (and up them, too!), camping in his hammock, and organizing trash clean-ups with friends. Tanner works with the Three Rivers Project of the Sierra Club, a Regional Host for the 1 Mississippi campaignto help residents develop a closer connection to the Mississippi River and the wildlife that he loves.


Tennessee/Kentucky: Karen Thornton

karen cropped headshotKaren Thornton is our 1 Mississippi team member located in the Memphis region. She returns for a second year with a new ideas on ways to share innovative methods to explore and experience the rich cultural and historic heritage that accents the West Coast of Tennessee and Kentucky.  Karen earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Development from the University of Kansas and a MA in City and Regional Planning from the University of Memphis. She plans to highlight the natural and scenic beauty of the region to improve urban and rural economies along the River. “The Mississippi River is said to be an orphan, but by sharing our River experiences we can educate each other on best practices to improve the River’s health and began a new era of stewardship.”  Her dedication to linking resources to results led her to the Mississippi River Corridor-Tennessee, her regional host for the 1 Mississippi campaign, where improving the quality of life for all constituents directly and indirectly affected by the River is a driving force.


Mississippi/Arkansas: Mark “River” Peoples

MS- MarkMark “River” Peoples is returning for a third year as the 1 Mississippi team member located in Clarksdale, MS. He is a River guide and youth leader with the Quapaw Canoe Company, his 1 Mississippi Regional Host and serves on the board of the Lower Mississippi River Foundation. When not on the water, Mark is an active blogger, athlete and mentor to Delta youth, educating them on the importance of the protection and preservation of our national treasure for future generations. Mark brings to the team a great commitment to the River and works hard to change the negative perception of our great River and its tributaries. Through cleanups, lectures and workshops, Mark’s goal is overall systemic health of the Mississippi River, making him an excellent 1 Mississippi representative for the southern region.