Become a Vermillion Steward

What's this? Hastings High School students discover some interesting trash, and learned about macroinvertebrates (stream dwelling bugs) and water quality in the Vermilliion River in the process.

A Treasure at Risk

As the nation's last remaining world-class trophy trout stream in a metropolitan area, the Vermillion River is a unique resource flowing through Scott, Dakota and Goodhue Counties. While providing vital wildlife habitat, scenic beauty and recreational opportunities such as kayaking, the Vermillion is also a major Mississippi River tributary and directly feeds drinking water wells in Hastings.

Unfortunately, pollution from failing septic systems, stormwater runoff and agricultural pesticides and fertilizers have impaired the Vermillion's waters. With the population of Dakota County set to double in the next 30 years, the Vermillion River and its watershed need help to remain a valuable source of clean water, wildlife habitat and community recreation.

This is where the Vermillion Stewards project comes in.

About the Vermillion Stewards

The Vermillion Stewards are neighbors, groups and committed citizens from throughout the Vermillion watershed area who come together to learn about and help this important, local prairie river and the waters that pass through it. (What's a watershed? Check out our video.)

Anyone who cares about their local waters is welcome to join, simply email Sophie to be added to the Vermillion Stewards email list. You'll receive notices of upcoming Vermillion Stewards events and activities, most of which are free and take place weekday evenings or Saturday mornings, providing an easy, convenient way to help our local waters and wildlife.

Vermillion Stewards activities include:
• Invasive species identification and removals
• Native plantings
• Prairie seed collections
• Watershed-friendly gardening programs

Most events are two to three hours in length and are featured in the Vermillion Stewards emails, as well as listed on the full FMR events calendar. It usually just takes an email to sign up.

FMR stewardship staff strive to keep things as easy and simple as possible to make the most of your time. According to our annual surveys, Vermillion Stewards not only greatly enjoy their volunteer and educational experiences, but make river-friendly changes in their own backyards — such as planting native species with deep pollution-filtering roots and installing rain barrels — and sharing their knowledge with friends and family. 

Events take place throughout the Vermillion watershed (which is also part of the larger Mississippi watershed) which spans all of Dakota and parts of Scott county. We venture into a wide variety of locations, including some FMR-protected and -restored sites like the Hastings Sand Coulee SNA and special spots along the Vermillion River in Farmington, We also hold rain barrel building and other educational events at libraries and other locations. 

FMR staff also take photos at every event and send them to participants. Check out a few of our Vermillion Stewards event albums

Read on to find out more about:
Who can be a Vermillion Steward
How Vermillion Stewards stay connected
 

Anyone can join

The majority of Vermillion Stewards are individuals and families who want to make a difference and contribute to the health and well-being of the local lands and waters. We also work with and encourage smaller groups, of 10 or fewer, to participate. If you are wondering which events are a good fit for you or your group, contact Sophie Downey at sdowney@fmr.org, 651-222-2193 x27 to find out more.

Occasionally, we are able to work with large groups -- companies, organizations, churches, etc -- who would like to do a Vermillion Stewards project. If you are part of a larger group, the two to three annual clean-ups are a perfect fit, and/or we may be able to match you up with an upcoming event. 

We greatly encourage and appreciate neighbors’ involvement and dedication and also welcome groups and individuals from beyond the immediate area interested in preserving this ecological treasure. Students and others with service hours are also most welcome, simply sign up as an individual and bring any required paperwork to the event. 

How we stay connected

Being a Vermillion Steward means actively caring for the well being of the Vermillion River and its watershed. For some, that means coming to a litter pick-up once a year and once a year only, but for others it means being part of a larger community that shares a deep appreciation of the river and commitment to its care.

Everyone who attends a Vermillion Stewards event and provides an e-mail address is automatically added to the Vermillion Stewards e-mail list. Anyone interested in future Vermillion stewardship events is encouraged to join. We keep emails to a minimum, roughly three to four a year. 

For those seeking to stay connected on a more regular basis, we suggest our twice-monthly e-newsletter, Mississippi Messages. The first monthly issue features a calendar of upcoming Vermillion Stewards and other Friends of the Mississippi River events.