2020 Annual Report

FRIENDS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER

2020 Annual Report

FRIENDS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER

Ronnie Brooks

Dear friends of the river,

What a year to summarize! 2020 used to refer to good vision, but it has now come to mean pandemic. For so many, the year has been one of loss, division and injustice. And yet, as we reflect on the year from FMR’s perspective, we marvel at the positive impact that you — members, volunteers and advocates — have had on water quality, healthy habitat and engaged and equitable communities. Despite the year's pain, we can offer impactful stories of service, generosity and resilience.


The river is the life-affirming strength of our region. Thank you for working with us to heal and nurture our communities, land and waters. Let's continue this essential collaboration.

With genuine gratitude,

Ronnie Brooks, Chair of FMR's Board of Directors

2020 IN REVIEW

MAKING MINNEAPOLIS SAFER FOR MIGRATING BIRDS

Flycatcher

You convinced the city to reduce light pollution along the Mississippi River flyway

FIXING THE PIPES FOR MINNESOTA’S DRINKING WATER

Pipes

You won funding for safe drinking water and cleaner lakes and rivers

CALLING FOR A BETTER UPPER HARBOR TERMINAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN

Person with mural

North Minneapolis murals raised awareness about the risk of community displacement

CULTIVATING
CLIMATE-RESILIENT RIVERFRONT FORESTS

People planting sycamore

You planted tree species chosen to preserve our canopy through climate change

HONORING DAKOTA HISTORY AND PRESENCE AT WAKÁŊ TIPI

Prairie

Our updated habitat restoration plan centers Dakota plants and practices

WORKING TOWARD ANTI-RACISM, EQUITY AND INCLUSION

Mpls skyline

You advanced the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus' police and justice reforms

COLLABORATING WITH THE NEXT GENERATION

Young people distanced

Youth impacted their communities through our second Environmental Stewardship Institute

LAUNCHING THE FOREVER GREEN PARTNERSHIP

Silphium and bee

You made possible a major new network dedicated to the success of clean-water crops

CELEBRATING
EARTH DAY APART

Person with trash bags

You volunteered more than 200 hours to keep trash out of our river

SHAPING CURRICULUM FOR VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS

Map

As schools locked down, we stepped up to adapt our lessons for online learning

COMING TOGETHER FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AT FORD AREA C

Ford Area C

You packed the public meeting on this toxic riverfront site, ensuring the community’s seat at the table

TRACKING FOX
AND COYOTE 
IN THE TWIN CITIES

Fox

You contributed to U of M wild canine research that will help us safely share our urban river habitat

River corridor

Stewardship & education

Land conservation

Water quality

FRIENDS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER

engages people to protect, restore and enhance

the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities region.

Within local river communities, FMR supports grassroots advocacy and assists decision-makers to ensure that the essential values of public access, scenic views, equity and environmental quality are respected during planning and development processes.

People on bicycles at Upper Harbor Terminal

FMR connects youth and adults from diverse communities throughout the metro to the river through 100-plus habitat restoration and education events annually, helping thousands of volunteers and students protect local waters and wildlife.

Students smiling
We work with public and private landowners, government agencies and concerned residents to protect critical lands and improve climate resilience through technical assistance, management planning, and hands-on habitat restoration.

Egret

Water quality continues to be one of the most pressing concerns for the Mississippi River. FMR activates people and builds partnerships and coalitions to influence public policies that impact the health of drinking water, the river and more.

Capitol rotunda filled with people

JANUARY

LAND CONSERVATION

TRACKING FOX AND COYOTE

IN THE TWIN CITIES

JANUARY

LAND CONSERVATION

TRACKING FOX AND COYOTE

IN THE TWIN CITIES

You contributed to U of M wild canine research
that will help us safely share our urban river habitat

More and more foxes and coyotes have made the metro area home. There's a range of feelings about these neighbors, and habitat managers want to understand more about their behavior. FMR, an outreach partner of the Twin Cities Coyote and Fox Project, has helped researchers gather leads and community science data. Because hundreds of FMR members contributed sightings, this valuable project to demystify wild canines is on its way, and has some intriguing preliminary findings.

RIVER CORRIDOR

FEBRUARY

COMING TOGETHER FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AT FORD AREA C

FEBRUARY

RIVER CORRIDOR

COMING TOGETHER FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AT FORD AREA C

You packed the public meeting on this toxic riverfront site, ensuring the community’s seat at the table

Ford Motor Company doesn’t operate in St. Paul anymore, but their massive pile of hazardous waste remains on our capital city's riverfront. “Can I just have a show of hands?” one community member asked attendees of the standing-room-only Ford Area C public meeting. “I assume everybody in here wants it all gone.” Every hand went up. That show of hands from 150 FMR members and friends showed Ford, the MPCA and the city the powerful community will for a clean future at Area C. The process will be long, but our outreach and advocacy have already resulted in expanded monitoring.

EDUCATION

MARCH

SHAPING CURRICULUM
FOR VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS

MARCH

EDUCATION

SHAPING CURRICULUM
FOR VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS

As schools locked down, we stepped up
to adapt our lessons for online learning

When our youth coordinator, Kate, found out schools were closing, she made a makeshift recording studio in her living room and set to work revamping FMR’s educational programs for online learners. Our team tailored curriculum on watersheds, invasive species, wetlands and erosion for creating a virtual classroom accessible to educators and families at home. More than a thousand people viewed these lessons in 2020, and educators offered their gratitude for vital, engaging resources in a difficult time.

STEWARDSHIP

APRIL

CELEBRATING
EARTH DAY APART

APRIL

STEWARDSHIP

CELEBRATING EARTH DAY APART

You volunteered more than 200 hours
to keep trash out of our river

Though we had to cancel our annual Earth Day cleanup at the river gorge, you went out of your way to safely pick up trash in your own neighborhoods and greenspaces, and log your volunteer hours with us in April. When our stewardship events picked up again with safety measures in place, our volunteers were eager to get involved. Together, you contributed more than 2,650 hours to improve water quality and steward habitat this year.

2,782

77

723

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Hours

volunteered


Volunteer

events


Volunteers

of all ages

THANK YOU,

VOLUNTEERS

2,782

77

723

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Hours

volunteered


Volunteer

events


Volunteers

of all ages

THANK YOU,

VOLUNTEERS

WATER QUALITY

MAY

LAUNCHING THE
FOREVER GREEN PARTNERSHIP

MAY

WATER QUALITY

LAUNCHING THE
FOREVER GREEN PARTNERSHIP

You made possible a major new network dedicated to the success of clean-water crops

At the launch of the Forever Green Partnership in May, farmers, environmental advocates, researchers, state agency reps and agribusiness professionals began collaborating together to advance economically viable clean-water crops. Our network, activities and ambitions have continued to develop in the year since. We’re taking a lead role in this coalition because our water quality, climate challenges and rural development issues can only be solved by making a fundamental shift in what we grow and how we grow it.

Constance Carlson

—CONSTANCE CARLSON

 Market Opportunity Development Specialist Forever Green Initiative

'The Forever Green Partnership was established to accelerate the commercialization of new crops and cropping systems that will protect our water and soil through continuous living cover. This is no easy task and requires engaging cross-sector collaborations that drive big, bold, and critical action. Friends of the Mississippi River's leadership in facilitating these collaborations, seeding dreams, telling stories and driving action has been invaluable and has helped my work with growers, entrepreneurs and communities across greater Minnesota leap forward.

JUSTICE

JUNE

WORKING TOWARD ANTI-RACISM, EQUITY AND INCLUSION

JUNE

JUSTICE

WORKING TOWARD ANTI-RACISM, EQUITY AND INCLUSION

You helped advance the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus' police and justice reforms

During the special legislative session following the Minneapolis Police's murder of George Floyd, we expressed solidarity with communities most impacted by systematic racism by supporting the Minnesota Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous Caucus' calls for justice reforms. We also advocated that legislators stop investing state dollars in public riverfront projects that displace people of color and instead fund projects that support clean water for all.

EDUCATION

JULY

COLLABORATING
WITH THE NEXT GENERATION

JULY

EDUCATION

COLLABORATING
WITH THE NEXT GENERATION

Youth impacted their communities

through our second Environmental Stewardship Institute

At Como Park in mid-July, youth presented their final projects from our Environmental Stewardship Institute: a fishing line receptacle at Hidden Falls Park, a seagull sculpture made of shoreline litter, mapped data around environmental justice issues in the Twin Cities, and more. After a summer of paid job experience and individualized learning with us, these young change-makers are prepared for even deeper engagement in a field that needs their creative perspectives.

Fiona Hatch

—FIONA HATCH, participant

Environmental Stewardship Institute

pictured with a draft

of her final project

'This program was a great experience for me. Everyone was so passionate about our climate, and it was a great environment to be in!


I got the chance to explore environmental career paths in more depth than I would have been able to on my own. I also learned valuable life and career skills that can carry me into any path I choose to follow.'

LAND CONSERVATION

AUGUST

HONORING DAKOTA HISTORY
AND PRESENCE AT WAKÁŊ TIPI

AUGUST

LAND CONSERVATION

HONORING DAKOTA HISTORY
AND PRESENCE AT WAKÁŊ TIPI

Our updated habitat restoration plan

centers Dakota plants and practices

At the end of summer, volunteers pulled invasive burdock to begin the next phase of habitat restoration at this Dakota sacred site, also known as Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. In collaboration with Lower Phalen Creek Project, our new plan prioritizes culturally important plants like prairie sage, and Dakota stewardship practices like prescribed burns. We’re excited to be working at the confluence of FMR’s ecological knowledge and Indigenous ecological and cultural knowledge.

Lower Phalen Creek Project staff

—STAFF TEAM

Lower Phalen Creek Project
pictured at a Line 3 protest

'This partnership combines FMR’s ecological expertise with our organization's cultural knowledge and relationships in East Side communities to ensure that the restoration will not only create important and high-quality habitat for water and wildlife, but also provide a culturally relevant space that honors Wakáŋ Tipi/Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary as a Dakota sacred site. FMR has been instrumental to our volunteer events, providing the tools and guidance to help us engage our communities in the restoration. We're excited to keep advancing this work.'

LAND CONSERVATION

SEPTEMBER

CULTIVATING CLIMATE-RESILIENT RIVERFRONT FORESTS

SEPTEMBER

LAND CONSERVATION

CULTIVATING CLIMATE- RESILIENT RIVERFRONT FORESTS

You planted tree species

chosen to preserve our canopy through climate change

Minnesota’s increasing temperatures and other climatic stressors could threaten our floodplain tree species, leaving openings for invasive plants to take over. Their gain would be water quality and habitat’s loss, fueling erosion and reducing ecosystem resilience. That’s why we’re diversifying our forests now at places like the Minneapolis River Gorge and Settler’s Island, planting climate-adapted trees, like the sycamore pictured here, for the uncertain years ahead.

WATER QUALITY

OCTOBER

FIXING THE PIPES FOR
MINNESOTA’S DRINKING WATER

OCTOBER

WATER QUALITY

FIXING THE PIPES FOR MINNESOTA DRINKING WATER

You won funding for safe drinking water

and cleaner lakes and rivers

In the fifth special session of the state Legislature, the Fix the Pipes Alliance we helped establish got what we asked for: more than $302 million to fund much-needed investments in drinking water infrastructure, outdated pipes, wells, water treatment plants and more. As a result of our coalition and River Guardians’ advocacy, we secured clean drinking water for Minnesotans, safeguarded communities from flooding, and protected lakes and rivers from pollution.

33

6

1,667

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Calls

to action


Legislative sessions


River

Guardians

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THANK YOU,

RIVER GUARDIANS

RIVER CORRIDOR

NOVEMBER

CALLING FOR A BETTER

UPPER HARBOR TERMINAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN

NOVEMBER

RIVER CORRIDOR

CALLING FOR A BETTER

UPPER HARBOR TERMINAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN

North Minneapolis murals raised awareness

about the risk of community displacement

Three eight-foot murals depicting scenes of resistance to gentrification traveled from yard to yard in North Minneapolis in November. Resident Sebastian Rivera and organizer Ricardo Perez painted the murals as part of our coordinated effort to ensure that the development, as Rivera puts it, “actually represents this community for now and in the future.” As a result of pressure from FMR and many allies, the city has committed to public ownership of this valuable site, and has postponed final votes on the project’s direction.

RIVER CORRIDOR

DECEMBER

MAKING MINNEAPOLIS SAFER
FOR MIGRATING BIRDS

DECEMBER

RIVER CORRIDOR

MAKING MINNEAPOLIS SAFER
FOR MIGRATING BIRDS

You convinced the city to reduce light pollution

along the Mississippi River flyway

New science-based rules we fought for will guide development in the Mississippi River’s designated critical area through the Twin Cities. But as cities adopt those rules, there’s a chance to make them even stronger. Minneapolis was the first to pass their updated river ordinance in December. As a result of our advocacy, the city strengthened requirements about lighting and building materials that will make the migration flyway less disorienting and dangerous for the millions of birds that make their way along the river each year.

Cam Gordon

—Council Member Cam Gordon

Minneapolis City Council

'Friends of the Mississippi River helped strengthen the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area ordinance, which passed the Council last year.

This law will help make development near the river sensitive to its particular environmental needs and importance for years to come, and I was very glad to have FMR’s thoughtful and strategic guidance as the Council considered it.'

The river and all of us at FMR extend our gratitude for all that you made possible and helped achieve. Thank you for helping carry out our shared vision of clean waters, restored habitat and a river for all to enjoy.

THANK YOU, MEMBERS

for 12 months

of steadfast support

The river and all of us at FMR extend our gratitude for all that you made possible and helped achieve. Thank you for helping carry out our shared vision of clean waters, restored habitat and a river for all to enjoy.

THANK YOU, MEMBERS

for 12 months of steadfast support

pie chart

Statement of Financial Activities

*Calendar year 2020 unrestricted amounts, unaudited.
Audited financials will be available after July 2021.

2020 Expenses: $2,289,437

2020 Revenues: $1,832,552

Osprey
Volunteer at Indian Mounds Park
Couple by river with tree roots

JOIN US IN 2021

FMR staff on Zoom

Our Staff

Whitney Clark, Executive Director

Kate Clayton, Youth Coordinator

Sara DeKok, Associate Director-Development Director

Sophie Downey, Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator

Tessa Enroth, Individual Gifts Officer

Jennifer Schuetz Hadley, Database Coordinator

Barb Heintz, Accountant

Laura Mann Hill, Stewardship & Education Program Director

Peter LaFontaine, Agricultural Policy Manager

Tahera Mamdani, Finance Director

Lisa Mueller, Conservation Director

Ashley O'Neill Prado, Administrative & Programs Assistant

sue rich, Communications Director

Ellie Rogers, Communications Associate

Alex Roth, Ecologist

Trevor Russell, Water Program Director

Karen Schik, Senior Ecologist

Colleen O'Connor Toberman, River Corridor Director

FMR board and staff full group

Advisory Board

Paul Aasen
Shirley Hunt Alexander
Michelle Beeman
Charles K. Dayton
David Durenberger
Ron Kroese
George Latimer
Lynn Moratzka
Dr. Michael Osterholm
Phil Riveness
Sen. Tina Smith
John Linc Stine
Dr. Deborah Swackhamer
Liz Wielinski

Our Board

Ronnie Brooks, Chair

Chad Dayton, Vice Chair

Perry McGowan, Treasurer

Peter Gove, Secretary

Jeff Aguy

Dr. John Anfinson

Paul Bauknight

Stewart Crosby

George Dunn

Forrest Flint

Diane Herman

Ryan Mallery

Hokan Miller

Julia Olmstead

Susan Vento

Deanna Wiener

Nou Yang

July: Ellie Rogers

August: Alex Roth
September: FMR

October: USEPA (Flickr)

November: FMR

December: John Soucheray

Join Us: Tom Reiter, Steve Cronin, Dodd Demas

Note: Some photos taken pre-COVID

Cover: Tom Reiter

Programs: FMR, Tom Reiter, FMR, FMR

January: Dave and Karla McKenzie

February: Margie O'Laughlin

March: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

April: Dhaivyd Hilgendorf

May: Janet and Phil (Flickr)

June: Adobe stock

PHOTO CREDITS

GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency 2020
Charities Review Council MEETS STANDARDS smartgivers.org

Our mission:
Friends of the Mississippi River
engages people to protect, restore and enhance
the Mississippi River and its watershed
in the Twin Cities region.

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101 E. Fifth Street Suite 2000

Saint Paul, MN 55101

info@fmr.org

651-222-2193