Working to protect the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities area

FMR's Spring 2014 Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Guide

FMR events offer individuals and groups alike the opportunity to learn about the river and to be involved in its restoration, and have fun in the process.

Spring fever has struck again! We're ready and eager to: Get outside and clean our parks and streets. Install a wildlife and butterfly friendly garden, a river-friendly rain barrel or permeable pavers — or all of them! Restore our local habitat, removing invasive plants and replacing them with grasses and flowers that help the waters and wildlife we love.

Some of us want to keep it simple and join an event. Some of us want to infect others with our fever and get our family, classmates/students, fellow parishioners, neighbors or even coworkers involved in our spring endeavors.

Whether you're looking for one or two events to join, or ready to arrange an outing for you and yours, FMR's got you covered. Bring it on!

Your time. Your impact. 

Before we launch into our most recent offerings, there's a few things to note. We know your time is precious, so we aim to make the most of it. Here's how:

  • We take care of supplies, logistics, directions and everything else so you can focus on learning about and helping the river. We aim to go beyond supplies and directions as well, prioritizing individuals' experiences as much as we can, and communicating in a comprehensive but never excessive and a respectful, jargon-free manner.
  • We make sure your contributions have lasting power. At FMR, restoration activities are part of larger environmental improvement and conservation plans. So if you're removing invasive species at one event, you can trust we'll be back to build upon your work. And you’re not only working to restore the special place you’re working in but contributing to long-term, interconnected efforts to expand and improve green space, wildlife habitat and water quality in the Mississippi watershed.
  • We stretch your time through partnerships; your contributions benefit many organizations at once. Every FMR activity is part of a program with one or, often, several essential partners — city park departments or commissions, state and federal agencies, watershed districts, private landowners, other nonprofits, and community institutions. Thus when you volunteer at, say, Pine Bend Scientific & Natural Area, you’re not only volunteering for FMR, but also the MN Department of Natural Resources as well as the National Park Service.


What are you looking for?

We strive to offer programming that meets differing needs. As a result, we have over a hundred public and group events each year, varying in size, location, activity and commitment level. Of course, with all of these offerings, it can be hard to figure out the best fit for you and yours, which is where this guide comes in. Are you looking for:

An Earth Day activity

  • Join our Minneapolis Earth Day cleanup in the Mississippi River Gorge, Saturday, April 26th, 2-4 p.m.! There are also links on this event page to find out more about additional cleanups throughout Minneapolis, or whom to contact to set up your own group cleanup.
  • For an all-day educational event, consider the Hastings Area Birding Festival, Saturday, April 19th.
  • It's a little early, but the City of St. Paul citywide cleanup, featuring a litter pick-up at one of our habitat restoration sites, Mounds Park, is Saturday, April 12th, starting at 8:30 a.m. 
  • If you have a group of 15 or more and are looking for a weekday activity, we're unfortunately booked through April and May for our group event programming. However, it's a great time of year to suggest a St. Paul storm-drain stenciling outing and/or an interactive watershed education presentation to your class, coworkers, church or community group, and get one on the books for summer or fall. After all, caring for the planet is a year-round thing. 

I want to help restore habitat and improve water quality for:

  • Two hours or so.
    Great, most of the events on the FMR calendar are two to three hours in length. In addition to cleanups, you can sign up to help plant a raingarden in St. Paul's Crosby park, remove invasive species at Pine Bend Scientific and Natural Area, or set up a two-hour or so activity for your group.

  • ... a few more hours than that, but I’d like some flexibility, and might want to bring friends and family on my own.
    Check out the Pledge to Pulls. There’s one at St. Paul’s Crosby Park May 20th and one at Pine Bend Scientific & Natural Area May 8th. Each begins with a training and kickoff, then asks participants to return to the area and remove invasive species at times that work for them. For the Crosby event, the pledge is required. However, the pledging and follow-up is optional for those volunteering at Pine Bend SNA. Additional information is available on the FMR calendar.

On occasion, active FMR volunteers receive advance notice of special in-demand events, such as the Vermillion River trout survey. Above, a pair of trout eye their temporary captors.

Photo: FMR

I’m a service learner. What do you have for students? Or instructors?

I’d like more information about your programs before jumping in.

  • To meet other volunteers and learn a little more, join us:
    — At Vermillion Stewards Season Kick-off Thursday, May 1st, 6-8 p.m. The Vermillion River is a cold water prairie river that runs through the heart of Dakota County. The only trophy trout stream located near a metropolitan area in the United States, it is also a major tributary of the Mississippi River. Organized by FMR and funded by the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization, the Vermillion Stewards program helps local residents learn about, protect and enhance this beautiful but imperiled river and its watershed.
    — At the Earth Day cleanup, Saturday, April 26th, 2-4 p.m., which also serves as a kickoff for the River Gorge Stewards event season, featuring educational and volunteer activities in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
  • Read more about our volunteer programs:
    — The River Gorge Stewards, feauturing volunteer and educational events in Minneapolis and St. Paul
    — The Vermillion River Stewards, featuring volunteer and educational events in Dakota County and part of Scott County
    — SHEP, Stream Health Evaluation Program, trains volunteers who live or work in the Rice Creek Watershed District to evaluate stream health
    St. Paul Water Quality Education, featuring storm drain stenciling, cleanups and interactive presentations for groups in St. Paul

I'm looking for information to help me act in my home, yard and neighborhood.

  • Yard and gardening practices are a significant contributor to the health of our local waters.
    - Our April 19th rain-barrel workshop has reached capacity, but we're planning for more workshops in St. Paul and Dakota County in June. To have event calendars delivered to your inbox, sign up for e-newsletter Mississippi Messages via the periwinkle box to the right. Or email srich <a> if you'd specifically like an advance invitation to just these types of events.
    - While it's hard to replace a workshop, FMR's Landscape for The River page features the most practical and easy to follow local resources to help you get going on water and wildlife-friendly projects for your yard this season.
  • FMR offers experiential water-quality presentations for classrooms and groups of approx. 30 or more in St. Paul. Get in touch via this online form.
  • In September 2012, FMR and the National Park Service released the first-ever State of the River Report, detailing the ecological health of the Twin Cities stretch of the Mississippi River. While the report is available in its entirely at, FMR and NPS staff are also presenting the report several times over the coming months. The full schedule is available at