Kristen Mertz – 1MISSISSIPPI Outreach Assistant

From source to sea, a variety of people gather near the mouth of the Mississippi River, in New Orleans, to share ideas on how to raise consciousness of our mighty vessel to others. The Mississippi River so generously provides us with drinking water, plenty of recreation, and a stronger economy, but we have not given the same nurturing in return. The river has been damaged in many ways by litter, toxic chemicals that run off city streets, farms, and other non-point sources. Together, we spent three days discussing ways to continue to combat these issues.

One term that was reiterated frequently during our meeting; AWARENESS.

We determined for others to care about the river at all, they must have a connection to it. The shameful truth is we often neglect, or do not recognize environmental issues that are right in front of us.  We must get people in the mindset that it is their responsibility to help keep the river clean, as we all utilize it and so will future generations to come. So how do you create a bond with your river?

  • Walk, jog or run beside it
  • Do yoga and meditate to its flow
  • Recreational fishing/boating- kayak, canoe, paddleboard, etc.
  • LITTER CLEANUPS – the easiest way to spot mistreatment of your river
  • Attend events revolving around your river
    • you can learn so many unique facts, and potential answers to questions you may have pertaining to your river.
  • MRN’s choice while in NOLA: bonfires

The Mississippi River Network strives to protect and restore OUR river. We look forward to connecting people with the river, it is a great obligation to keep the river healthy and requires the collaboration of many groups. Just to name a few that attended the annual meeting were:

  • Sierra Club
  • American Rivers
  • Iowa Environmental Council
  • Mississippi Valley Traveler
  • Green Lands Blue Waters
  • Greenway Network
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium
  • The Wetlands Initiative
  • TN Environmental Council
  • Quapaw Canoe Company
  • Prairie Rivers Network
  • Illinois Stewardship Alliance
  • MO Coalition for the Environment
  • McKnight Foundation
  • Mississippi Park Connection
  • Gulf Restoration Network
  • University of MN
  • Mississippi River Water Trail Association
  • The Conservation Fund
  • Friends of Our Riverfront
  • National Great Rivers Research and Education Center
  • Friends of the Mississippi River

As you can see, it takes A LOT of us to keep the river flowing at its most natural state. While we had many innovative discussions between this group of people, our main purpose and drive, was our love for the Mississippi River. We wish to share that passion with others, and inspire them to get connected to their river.