Mississippi Park Connection strengthens the enduring connection between people and the Mississippi River by enriching the life of the river and the lives of all who experience our national park, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.
Impact and Programs
Oct 1, 2019-September 30, 2020
A. Community Engagement
Upper Saint Anthony Falls Lock Visitor Center:
Since 2016, Mississippi Park Connection has helped the National Park Service operate a summer visitor center at the lock and dam. The lock did not open to the public until the end of July due to COVID and all special events were cancelled, however, we still served 10,000 people.
Paddle Share is a summer program that consists of several kayak share stations on the Mississippi River. We saw a 31% increase in usage over 2019 (2500 rentals).
B. Youth Education
Since March of 2019, a huge effort has been made to shift our programs to online learning. More information can be found at parkconnection.org/learn.
1. 647 virtual classroom visits for elementary schools
2. 450 students participated in virtual summer camps in partnership with NPS and Wilderness Inquiry.
3. 679 users for the Living River Online program
4. 1800 students took part in Big River Journey (Fall 2019)
5. 7500 students took part in Big River Journey online in the spring of 2020
Despite the inability to engage with large numbers of volunteers, we accomplished a lot of work in our forestry campaign, Plant for the Future. In order to mitigate the loss of ash trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer, we planted more than 3,000 trees in the floodplain forests of the Mississippi River.
2020-2023 Program Plan
Priority #1: Continue working with NPS to consolidate, simplify and clarify school program offerings
Priority #2: Expand the River Educator program to help support increased programming demands
Priority #3: Clarify and expand teacher development opportunities
Priority #1: Establish a sustainable visitor operation at Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam that serves both residents and visitors.
Priority #2: Advance the River Learning Center Project
Priority #3: Paddle Share is a reliable and sustainable program that is a “must-do” experience for Twin Cities residents and visitors
Priority #1: Youth-focused service programs
Priority #2: Data Driven Strategies to improve communications and volunteer experience
Priority #3: We are seen as the twin cities ‘go-to’ for groups and individuals who want to serve outside.
Priority #1: Complete the Plant for the Future Campaign (15,000 trees) with wide ranging support
Priority #2: Development of the ‘next big thing’ to tackle as a river community.
Priority #1: Increase awareness of organization and national park with 20-40 year old audience by marketing to outdoors and environmental publications, platforms and audiences
Priority #2: Increase attendance for events that have not reached capacity by targeting more specific audiences with marketing
Priority #3 Improve customer experience and engagement
Community or Constituency Served
Our primary community is the people who reside within the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, with a secondary audience of visitors to the area.
Geographic Area Served
Our geographic area of service is the 72-mile Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a national park that traverses the heart of Minneapolis / St. Paul.