FMR turns 30! A birthday note from our director

Chocolate cake with decoration: 30 years, canoe, tent, river, bonfire

Associate Director-Development Director Sara DeKok made this river-themed birthday cake to celebrate thirty years of protecting, restoring and enhancing the river with our amazing supporters.

It’s hard to believe Friends of the Mississippi River is turning 30 this month.  

Throughout the year, we've been honoring this milestone with a series featured in our Mississippi Messages e-newsletter on 30 ways we can help the river, full of tips and resources to restore habitat, reduce pollution, educate ourselves, care for the river while enjoying it and further deepen our involvement in its stewardship. 

I also wanted to take a moment to reflect and celebrate. Looking back, I’m very proud of all we’ve accomplished working with all of you: our members, volunteers and advocates.

When I started as the second executive director in 1997, I was the only full-time staff member working out of a tiny one-room office (more of a closet, really). Today FMR has a professional staff of 26 and a proven track record of being a voice for the river that sustains our communities.

With your help, we’ve protected and restored thousands of acres of parks and natural areas at more than three dozen sites. We’ve deepened connections to the river and the environment for thousands of youth and adults.

We’ve established solid protective rules governing riverfront land use in every Twin City river community. We’ve banned the sale of triclosan in Minnesota, a toxin that was building up in the river. We closed the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock to prevent the upstream spread of invasive carp. (I could go on, but there are too many accomplishments in our annual reports to choose from.)

And we’re just hitting our stride.

The work we’re doing today has the potential to profoundly change the river and our community’s relationship with it.

We’re expanding our youth programming to create new pathways into environmental and river conservation careers, especially for our BIPOC youth. We co-founded and are helping to lead a multisector consortium to transform our agricultural landscapes with clean-water crops that are good for farmers and our waters. 

We just came through a historic state legislative session, with many wins to celebrate. We’re engaging neighbors and stakeholders in thinking about the transformative possibility of removing two locks and dams on the river in the Twin Cities. And these are just the highlights.

Of course, we have much work to do. But we continue to grow, connecting with people like you who power this work through your volunteer time, your advocacy and your donations.

Thirty years ago, our founders saw the need for an organization to harness the love our community feels for the river and turn that love into action, in our personal choices and our public policies and decisions. Together our river and our community is healthier for it.

Thank you! We’re excited for the next 30 years! 

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Upcoming Events

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Nicollet Island, Minneapolis
New date: Saturday, August 10, 2024 at 5 p.m.
Hidden Falls Regional Park, St. Paul
Wednesday, August 14, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific & Natural Area, Inver Grove Heights