The Mississippi River Legacy Society

Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area

Individuals and families with a love for the river and a vision to restore it to its rightful ecological health and vitality have helped to create and build Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) into the 25+ years-strong, nationally recognized river conservation organization that it is today. These river conservation values are steadily influencing others in our growing and diverse community that the Mississippi River is our wellspring and needs our care. Not only is the Mississippi River the source of drinking water for over 1 million residents in the Twin Cities, but Minnesota is also the headwaters state — and the Twin Cities is the first major urban region of this globally significant resource.

Consider a Gift to the River's Future

FMR donors who have the foresight to imagine an even healthier river beyond their lifetime can express this by creating a planned gift to benefit FMR. FMR can be named as a direct beneficiary of specific assets, a portion of your estate, or your residual estate after payment of other bequests. You are also enrolled as a member of the Mississippi River Legacy Society, a growing group of donors who have established a Mississippi River legacy through a planned gift.

Benefits of creating a planned gift to benefit Friends of the Mississippi River include:

  • Expression of your river conservation values: You are leaving a river conservation legacy by providing financial resources to protect our most precious natural asset in the Twin Cities—the Mississippi River—and ensuring the health and beauty of the river and our state’s water and land resources for future generations.
  • Tax Savings: A planned gift can provide tax savings to you and/or your heirs.
  • Freedom and Flexibility: Your plan is revocable; you may change your mind and your gift plan at any time as your life circumstances evolve.

Ways of Giving

Following are various vehicles that can be used to make a planned gift to Friends of the Mississippi River. For additional guidance or to let us know of your plans, please contact Tessa Enroth, Individual Gifts Officer at 651-222-2193 ext 22 or

For your planned giving records, FMR's Tax I.D. number is 41-1763226.

Will Bequest
There are a number of ways to make a bequest in your will. The most common and most preferred bequest gift is for unrestricted support. Following is sample language that can be included in a will or estate plan.

I give to Friends of the Mississippi River, a nonprofit corporation located at 101 East Fifth Street, Ste 2000, St. Paul, MN 55101, the sum of $_____________ for general operating purposes. (Or:___________% of my estate.)

Life Insurance Policy
There are many ways that you can use your life insurance policy to benefit both you, by maximizing your federal income tax deduction, and Friends of the Mississippi River, giving us a generous gift to help people understand, restore and protect rivers and their watersheds.

Charitable Remainder Trust
A Charitable Remainder Trust is a tax-exempt trust that pays income to your designee. When the trust terminates, the remaining assets would be paid to Friends of the Mississippi River.

Retirement Plan Designation
Leave a lasting legacy by choosing Friends of the Mississippi River as a beneficiary of your retirement plan. The gift is exempt of federal estate tax and is a “tax-smart” way to maximize the impact of your gift and minimize taxes.

Retained Life Estate
You can make a gift of a personal residence to Friends of the Mississippi River while retaining the right to live in it for life. FMR has gift acceptance policies that may limit or prohibit certain gifts of real estate or property. Please contact us before choosing this planned giving option.

Charitable Lead Trust
A tax-advantaged way to pass assets along to your heirs. Fund a trust that pays income to Friends of the Mississippi River for a period of time (such as your lifetime or a number of years). Then, at the end of the term, the remainder is returned to either you or your heirs.

Moving Forward

The information presented above is not intended to be financial advice, so please consult with your financial or estate planner. FMR would be happy to work with your trusted advisors on your river legacy. To learn more about creating a lasting Mississippi River legacy by making a deferred gift to benefit FMR, please contact Tessa Enroth, Individual Gifts Officer, at 651-222-2193 ext. 22 or You can also fill out the linked form.


Karen Marie Christenson, educator

Why I became a Mississippi River Legacy Society Member

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Mississippi River changed the course of my career. I began my career as an educator teaching children indoors, spending almost all of our time between the four walls of our classroom in St. Paul. I now spend much of my teaching time outdoors, helping children and colleagues explore nature’s outdoor classroom of land, water, and wildlife. The Mighty Mississippi played a key role in this mid-career pivot.

Let’s rewind for a moment. In the early 2000s, I had already been teaching for a decade and was feeling frustrated and stifled. My colleagues and I were finding it increasingly difficult to engage and inspire our learners. I was getting tired of managing challenging behaviors and was feeling more like a police officer than an educator. I actually started to contemplate leaving teaching. 

That fall, our 6th graders were invited on the Big River Journey, a ride down the Mississippi River on one of the giant paddlewheel boats. Onboard, experts from various fields of study introduced us to the history of the river, water quality and aquatic invertebrates, river geology, river birds, river ecosystems, river boats, and river stewardship. Our students were on fire! They were utterly engaged and visibly fascinated with the magnificence of the Mississippi River. It dawned on me, “This is how to reach and teach students! In nature, in context, in the real world!” We used that field trip to launch cross-cultural, cross-curricular studies of the Mississippi River and its place in our community and in the world. 

It wasn’t long before students expressed an urge to DO something to help the river, to educate others about how our actions affect the health and quality of the water, fish, and wildlife. We reached out to the Friends of the Mississippi River. Eager to help, FMR immediately sent out two cheerful staffers to facilitate storm drain stenciling in our eastside neighborhood. Students worked in teams to sweep the storm drains free of debris, align stencils, spray paint, and hang information leaflets on neighbors’ doors. Other kids in the neighborhood saw them and were intrigued by this energized fleet of River Stewards… and wanted in. Four grants and multiple river projects sprang from that original storm drain stenciling experience with FMR.

Now that I have completed my 25th year of teaching in Saint Paul Public Schools, I am pondering my legacy, “What would I like students and colleagues to remember about my work here?” I sincerely hope that my work has inspired learners to connect to the joys and wonders of the natural world, to seek ways to steward and improve our land and waters. I hope they remember the incredible beauty and magnificent power of the Mississippi River and the vital role it plays in all of our lives. I hope they recognize the Mississippi as the life blood of our community. 

I am so grateful to the Friends of the Mississippi River for that early and enthusiastic support for my students and me. As part of my lifelong legacy, I want to be a part of FMR’s mission to engage people to “protect, restore and enhance the Mississippi River and its watershed.”

That is why I have pledged to be a member of the Mississippi River Legacy Society. I simply designated FMR as one of my beneficiaries on my state retirement account on an easy online form. I feel good about investing in the future. 

FMR clearly embodies their core values of Stewardship, Sustainability, Leadership, Collaboration, Expertise, Integrity, and Equity. What important work! I hope you will join me in supporting the Friends of the Mississippi River in this vital mission. Together, there is so much we can do. Thank you, FMR!!

In the Lakota language, the phrase Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ is a recognition of our underlying connection, of how we are all related. It is a prayer of oneness with all forms of life: people, animals, birds, insects, and even rocks and rivers. That is what our studies of the Mississippi have so powerfully demonstrated – that we are all part of one big wondrous and wonderful web of life, how our lives and the life of the river are incredibly, irreversibly linked. —Karen Marie Christenson, educator

Marjean Hoeft and Lisa Vecoli

"Living along the Gorge of the Mississippi, we experience and enjoy this great river every day. We've participated in FMR volunteer events, including river clean up days and the River Challenge, for many years. When it was time to revisit our estate plan, it made sense to look first at the organizations in which we had committed time and energy, and let our financial assets follow suit. With our gift, we are confident FMR will continue to do the valuable work to ensure this priceless asset will remain protected long after we're gone." —Marjean Hoeft & Lisa Vecoli

Francine Corcoran

I established a planned gift to support the health of the river and FMR’s future because I have spent my whole life near the Mississippi River. The river is where I swam and fished with my father; it is where I learned about birds and spring ephemerals from my mother. I now live a short walk from the river in the Longfellow neighborhood and have the pleasure of experiencing a river on a trajectory of steady revival. FMR works with a dedicated and growing group of Longfellow community stewards who are protecting the river with lively and useful activities for all ages in care of the river we love. My gift is for where I live now and for everyone downstream.” —Francine Corcoran


“I am single, I have no dependents, and I’m trying to get my ducks in a row, so someone isn’t trying to clean up loose ends for me.” —Anonymous