Group programs and activities available

Dowling students explore watersheds using models and spray bottles

Students at Dowling Urban Environmental Magnet School in Minneapolis use a model and spray bottle to simulate the role of rain in the Mississippi River watershed.

Note: Indoor in-person programs have been suspended for the fall due to COVID-19 pandemic. All indoor lessons are available virtually and small group outdoor programs are available for in-person outings (masks required) in addition to stenciling kit reservations.  Kit reservations include no contact pick-up and drop-off at FMR offices.

FMR offers a variety of virtual, online, indoor and outdoor programs to support educators and outings leaders who want to connect their students or group members with the Mississippi River, each designed to address state academic standards. We offer online curriculum, 30-minute virtual programs, 1-hour indoor programs, 1.5-2-hour outdoor programs.  Indoor programs can take place at your meeting site, all are free and supplies are provided by FMR and our funders. Contact FMR Youth Coordinator Kate Clayton at to schedule your program.

River topics


This program begins with a brief discussion of the water cycle and how water moves through earth systems. It continues on to cover watersheds and how humans impact both the land and our waters.
Small groups build their own model landscape, hypothesize how water and pollution will flow upon it and then test their hypothesis. We conclude with a wrap-up on what we can all do to keep our waters clean in our everyday lives.
• 1-1.5 hour time period
• Often used as an introduction or follow-up to storm drain stenciling
• Appropriate for grades 4-college
• Addresses grade 4, 5, 6, 7, 9-12 academic standards

'Ecosystems Invaded!' AVAILABLE ONLINE

After a short review of ecosystems and how everything is interconnected, we'll discuss the difference between native and invasive species, how humans introduced them locally, and the social, ecological, and economic impacts of these new species.
A brief game illustrates how invasives can take over an area. We conclude with a discussion on ways to control invasives and what students can do to help.
• 1-1.5 hour time period
• Often used as an introduction to an outdoor invasive species pull
• Appropriate for grades 4-college
• Addresses grade 7 and 9-12 academic standards

'Erosion: Sculpting the Landscape' AVAILABLE ONLINE

The Mississippi River used to be a small river flowing into the Great Warren. We'll explore how erosion changed the river and our landscape to what it is today. Small groups will then work with a model landscape and water to see how erosion occurs and experiment with ways we can prevent it in sensitive areas. To wrap up, we'll look at keys to preventing stream-bank erosion and examples of what's being done in local restoration projects.
• 1-1.5 hour time period
• Appropriate for grades 5-college
• Addresses grade 4, 6 and 9-12 academic standards

'Wade into Wetlands' AVAILABLE ONLINE

Focusing on the importance of wetlands to people and the environment, we begin by covering some different types of wetlands in Minnesota. Small groups then build a model wetland, watch it work and then pollute it to see observe potential human impacts. We conclude with a discussion about how well our models reflect the real world and what they teach us about managing our natural resources.
• 1-1.5 hour time period
• Appropriate for grades 4-college
• Address grade 6 and 9-12 academic standards

'Erosion: The Roots of the Problem' (offered only in-person)

We begin with a short puppet skit acted by willing students and narrated by FMR staff about the problems with erosion and its effects on our water. Next, we explore reasons people are now noticing more erosion and what we can do to prevent it. As a group, we'll use yarn to compare the startling difference between the native plants' root systems (a key tool in the fight against erosion) and spindly turf grass roots.
• 1 hour time period
• Appropriate for grades K-3

1.5–2-hour outdoor programs

Harding High Earth Club, a long-time FMR partner, is helping to remove invasive species and restore a native hardwood forest and other East Side St. Paul restoration sites.

Outdoor programs either take place at your meeting site or an FMR restoration area, depending on the program. They're free with all supplies provided by FMR and our funders, though your group may need to supply transportation. Contact FMR youth coordinator Kate Clayton ( for more information or to schedule your program.

Storm drain stenciling

After a brief educational presentation, we'll take to the streets to mark storm drains with messages about how each connects to the river. This activity can take place on the streets and sidewalks around a meeting location of your choice or select areas of Minneapolis. Weather permitting, stenciling starts late-April and continues through October. Learn more and sign up for your group!

Trash cleanup

Choose a park or green space around your meeting location or along the river to conduct a trash clean up.FMR will provide all supplies and a short educational lesson as an introduction.
• 2 hours
• Grades 2-college

Invasive species pull

Student groups can help restore several FMR restoration areas in the metro area by removing invasive species. This can include hand-pulling garlic mustard or buckthorn, or hauling sticks and small logs of invasive woody species precut by specialty contractors. We highly recommend the 1-hour class on invasive species prior to the outing to provide context and familiarize participants with the site they will be restoring and the plants they will be removing.
• 2 hours
• Grades 4-college

Site tour

Visit an FMR habitat restoration site to learn about our ecosystem, the history of the site and ways we have used the Mississippi River in the past. Add a trash pickup or invasive species pull (see above) to help protect the site and become part of its story.
• 1.5-2 hours
• Grades 3-college