Photo courtesy of Billy Metcalf Photography

Photo courtesy of Billy Metcalf Photography

One of my favorite childhood memories of the holiday season is waking up with my sisters before sunrise, full of excitement, jumping into our parents’ bed to tell them that Santa had come. It seemed to always take them forever to make their way to the Christmas tree; we weren’t allowed to open gifts until they were ready and they insisted on making coffee first. As an adult I now understand the need for coffee before anything else!  What seemed like hours later (in reality it was probably more like 30 minutes), we were all sitting around the tree, finally ready to start opening our thoughtfully-wrapped gifts. It was a tradition that was repeated in our household until my sisters and I grew up.

My mom, sisters and I on Christmas morning 1978

My mom, sisters and I on Christmas morning 1978

Now that I’m older, I’ve found that while the holiday season is just as exciting, the excitement comes more from the act of giving: Giving gifts to friends and family as well as “giving” back to my community and nature. In fact, I’ve realized that the greatest gift of all is my time. As 1 Mississippi Campaign Coordinator, I’m dedicated to giving back to the Mississippi River through my daily work. And through this work, I’ve learned how much time River Citizens have been giving to the River all year long.

Volunteers participating in a River cleanup

Volunteers participating in a River cleanup

In fact, over the past year, more than 600 River Citizens have signed petitions, urging elected officials to protect the River. You’ve also participated in River clean-ups and other volunteer activities, such as tree plantings and invasive species removal. Each one of these actions helps the Mississippi River so that it will become a healthier River for the millions of people who depend on it for drinking water, recreation and tourism, and solitude.


Kayakers enjoying the River. Courtesy of Tanner Aljets

And it’s not too late to give just one more gift to the River this year. For example, you can sign our most recent petition that urges governors and other state officials to immediately address the serious, longstanding problem of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Officials have known about the growing severity of this issue for twenty years and no visible progress has been made. The more signatures on the petition, the more likely decision makers will take action.

You can also encourage your friends to become River Citizens. River Citizens are the guardians and caretakers of the River. Whether in arm chairs or wading boots, River Citizens protect the River in simple ways that make a big difference, just like you have done over the past year. Send your friends to the 1 Mississippi website where they can easily sign up!

Thank you, River Citizens, for all that you’ve done and continue to do for our Mighty Mississippi. It really does make a difference!

Happiest of Holidays to you!

Brooke Thurau
1 Mississippi Campaign Coordinator

Brooke_Cropped Again





Why are you a River Citizen?

“For me, the Mississippi River is not just a moving body of water but the water itself; where the water drains from, what it carries with its moving energy and to where those things are carried and deposited. It is essentially the ‘vascular’ system of the terrestrial landscape that fullsizerkeeps things ever changing and alive”



Kurt Johnson, Baton Rouge, LA

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