Meet the 2017 Mississippi River Fellows

Anna Waugh, Development Coordinator, Mississippi Park Connection

I can’t believe that it is August already and this summer is flying by! Our Mississippi River Fellows – Mary, Talon, and Liz – are nearing the end of their time with us, and we are so proud of the work that they have done this summer with youth in the Canoemobile Mississippi River program.

The Mississippi River Fellows program is a paid outdoor education internship for college-aged, young adults. By leading guided day trips on the Mississippi River for youth in elementary, middle, and high school they gain valuable work experience in environmental education. Learn more here.

I was lucky enough to paddle with the fellows a few weeks ago on Mississippi River Paddle Share and get to know them a little bit better. We talked about their lives and their work on the river this summer. If you haven’t met them yet, take a few minutes to get to know these incredible young adults.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Liz: I graduated this spring with a bachelor of science degree in biology and could not be happier to have the opportunity to share my love of life with the many people who come onto the river with us. Before attending the University of Minnesota, I lived in a farming town in Southeast Wisconsin near Lake Michigan.

Mary: I am in my second year of college. I love to read manga, play sports, and enjoy nature. I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas and moved to Minnesota about 6 years ago. I grew up in a family of ten, and also have ten half- siblings.

Mississippi River Fellow Mary enjoying Paddle Share

Mississippi River Fellow Mary enjoying Paddle Share

What do you like about working on the river?

Talon: Growing up in north Minneapolis, I was on many trips throughout middle school and high school with Wilderness Inquiry. I started working for them last summer, it was a great experience and after that summer I knew I wanted to work in the outdoor industry. This year I got the opportunity to work as one of the Mississippi River Fellows with the National Park Service and it's been eye opening and truly the best part of my summer.

Liz: Growing up near water and in a community where people depend on the land so deeply makes this job feel a lot like coming home. I'm grateful to my team and for the opportunity to engage the Twin Cities community with the waterways that quietly shape our lives.

Mary: Being on the river makes me feel calm because it helps me relax and think about what I need to do in the future. I am definitely a canoe person.

What do you like about working with kids?

Mary: When I am engaging with kids, I learn new things about them and what they know and do not know. I get the chance to know and understand some of their ideas and give off ideas to them. Working on the river and helping children learn about the river is something new. I learn each day, and to have the opportunity to work on the river is amazing.

Talon: Inspiring inner city youth to get into our outdoor space is such a satisfying feeling. Mainly because I was once that youth and know exactly what it's like to have my eyes opened to this new world.

What do you think about when you think about national parks?

Mary: When I think about national parks, I think about trees, nature, rivers, history, and people. I have been to plenty of parks, however I have not been to parks outside of Minnesota and Kansas. My favorite park is Minnehaha Falls because this place is beautiful and it is fun to walk the long path and see the beautiful waterfall.

Liz: I always enjoyed being outside, but we were never an "outdoor" family because of the associated costs of high quality gear. In fact, the KEEN water shoes donated for my use are the closest things I have ever owned to hiking boots.

Anything else you want to include for the readers?

Mary: The KEEN shoes were great for me to have because in my whole lifetime I have never had any kind of outdoor hiking shoes. This is my very first pair of hiking shoes and I am glad to have them and thankful to those who donated them to us. Thank you very much.

The Mississippi River Educator Fellowship is supported by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), the Minneapolis Foundation, KEEN shoes, and Bill and Judy Walter.