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Youth Education

In partnership with the National Park Service, our outdoor youth education programs provide a fresh, hands-on approach to the ways in which learning can be integrated with the outdoors, empowering students to become avid learners, and enabling them to begin building a lifelong relationship with the river and our national park. Our goal is to reach more than 20,000 youth and their families annually—increasing student achievement and encouraging outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship as life-long pursuits.


Educator Summer Workshop


We want to get you out of the classroom and on the river this summer. Rediscover your local national park right here in the Twin Cities: the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area!

This free, one-day workshop is an inspiring introduction to the national park space, and is designed to familiarize educators with pre-and-post lessons associated with our new education field trip programs.

Big River Journey

Photo credit: Bethany Birnie

Photo credit: Bethany Birnie

The Big River Journey field trip program connects students in grades 3-5 with the science and heritage of the Mississippi River, and promote stewardship. The program culminates with a riverboat excursion on the Mississippi River featuring hands-on learning stations.

Journey to the Falls

Photo credit: Dawn Kish

Photo credit: Dawn Kish

Journey to the Falls is an integration of river and classroom experiences featuring history and literacy activities for students in grades 4-6. The program connects students with Saint Anthony Falls and the Mississippi River in the Minneapolis area. The program culminates with a riverboat excursion on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis that includes hands-on learning stations, journaling and sketching. 

Take Me to the River

Photo credit: Bethany Birnie

Photo credit: Bethany Birnie

Take Me to the River is a hands-on educational program designed for fourth graders run out of Hidden Falls Regional Park each fall. The program focuses primarily on the cultural history of the river, but also addresses geography, geology, and physical science. Students rotate through 3 activities stations led by National Park Service rangers including orienteering & geocaching, shelter building, and fire building. 

New Fourth Grade Programs

Photo credit: Dawn Kish

Photo credit: Dawn Kish

The Working River, Winter River, and Living River education programs are new standards-based field trips specifically geared towards fourth graders and Title I schools with the goal of creating emotional and positive connections to our national park. Covering the seasons, these three programs encompass a year-long journey using different themes, with student explorations being guided by an experienced River Educator team and knowledgeable park rangers.

Seed Pod Program


The Seed Pod program gets students’ hands dirty with hands-on learning about the importance of maintaining a watershed and how students can care for the river. This program combines both a classroom visit and a river field trip that allows students to create and launch new seed pods to help grow a healthy river bank.

Learn more by contacting our Education Specialist, David Kappelhoff:

Mississippi River Fellows Program


Each summer, Mississippi Park Connection funds internships to work with National Park Service rangers and serve as river educators for the Mississippi River Canoemobile program. The Fellows are trained on canoe safety and paddling skills, and river ecology and history and then become program leaders. The Fellows are also given professional development opportunities, which includes learning about the National Park Service and other partner agencies and organizations that may offer opportunities for future employment. 

Canoemobile - Mississippi River


The Mississippi River Canoemobile program is a youth education and recreation program on the Mississippi River— complete with guided day trips, overnight camping, and environmental education programs for youth in elementary, middle, and high school. We are proud to support this program in partnership with the National Park Service, Wilderness Inquiry, and many others.

Mississippi Park Connection’s youth education programs are generously funded by the National Park Foundation, Xcel Energy Foundation, KEEN Effect, Boston Scientific Foundation, 3M Foundation, Ecolab Foundation, and generous members who contribute to the Ticket to Ride Scholarship Fund.