Our river is a conduit for community, migration, inspiration and so much more. And on October 3, 2019, it's what brought us all to A'bulae to celebrate its power and our work to protect it.

Thank you to all 200+ friends of the river for your presence at this event and for your generosity.

From FMR's staff and board, thank you for coming!

You joined us to celebrate the myriad ways the river connects.

More than half of our country connects with the Mississippi through tributaries and confluences, from the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico.

But the Mississippi connects more than this country's waters.

We took a bird’s eye view and followed a great blue heron down the flyway that connects millions of birds to our metro area each year.

From our prairie restoration at William H. Houlton Conservation Area at the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi rivers:

To our work with the community north of St. Anthony Falls to ensure development embraces the river and delivers equitable benefits for the neighborhood:

From the only river gorge along the mighty Mississippi and the dozens of volunteers who show up to steward the savanna and forest there:

To the confluence of the Mississippi with the muddy Minnesota River, where you can see the need for our work to keep nutrients in the soil and the soil on the land while supporting our rural communities, healthy water and wildlife:

We heard stories of how individuals connect to the river and to the work of FMR.

From Whitney Clark, Executive Director of FMR

“The river runs all through my life. My dad was born in Bemidji, Minnesota near the headwaters of the great river. My mom was raised in the great river town of St. Louis, Missouri. Some of my earliest memories of exploring the river’s bluffs and banks with my dad on Sunday afternoons…

Indeed, each of us is connected to the river in our own unique ways. But something that is universally true and common among us is that water is life. And here in the Twin Cities, the Mississippi River is our wellspring. Our wellbeing and livelihood are inextricably connected to the health of the river. The river is why I go to work every day.”

From Paul Bauknight, FMR board member and project implementation director for the Minneapolis Parks Foundation

"As we’ve been on this journey together about equity, we’re thinking about what’s the fair and just inclusion of people in our society — which is not a passive sport. In my experience as I’ve been with FMR at the Upper Harbor, they’ve been willing to take that stand and say when things are unjust.

We’re looking at how do we make development along the river for communities what it needs to be, what it should be, what it hasn’t been? How do we make that change? How do we stand up to people when people are saying let’s take the easier route?"

From Mark Muller, Mississippi River Program Director at the McKnight Foundation

"My personal relationship with FMR goes back to 1997. That was when I, as a brand new Minnesotan, joined FMR for a Saturday morning bird watching trip along the river. Since that time, I’ve interacted with FMR in countless ways.

Thank you FMR board, staff and supporters for your willingness to play a leadership role in transforming the environmental movement and developing win-win agriculture systems."

From Allan Tokuda, FMR SuperVolunteer

“I’m a volunteer for FMR. I’ve been doing outdoor stewardship work for the last six years. I do the grunt work, like hauling thousands of pounds of buckthorn around… just last month, Alex led a group of us as we made enormous piles to be burned and to make room for native species.

Why do I do this? Why do I tromp around some riverbank trying to save the world? It’s a lot of fun. It’s great exercise. It’s very educational. And it’s a great way to connect with my community.

But for me, in addition, it’s quite profound to have an opportunity to try to protect this beautiful natural resource we have flowing through the city. For everyone.”

From Jearlyn Steele, emcee and local singer, speaker, TV reporter and radio talk show host

"I come up with a mantra every year, but this one has stuck with me for six years now. I lift a glass of water that the Mississippi offered to me today. Yes, it went through all of its iterations and had to come out clean for me to be able to consume it. But the genesis was the Mississippi River. I hold it up every morning and I say: Thank you for life, health, and strength.

It brings us life. And with that life it brings us music. And with that music, it brings us power. Music is transformational."

We listened to the river connect us to one hundred years of American music.

Our keynote speaker, Nick Spitzer of the radio show American Routes, called the Mississippi a river of songs and sounds, the carrier of American music. Nick played clips from a steamboat calliope, Mahalia Jackson’s Down by the Riverside and more.

We made a Spotify playlist of river music so you can hear it all again.

And together we raised more than $135,000 for the river.


Our deepest gratitude to our sponsors who made this night possible.


Cathy Tobias


Stewart & Lesley Crosby • Chad & Maggie Dayton • Judson Dayton & Shelley Mydra-Dayton • Art Kaemmer, M.D. • Julia L. Kaemmer & Olivier Vrambout • Thomas Reiter & Sharon Miyamoto • Paul & Mary Reyelts • Susan Vento


Frederick & Catherine Asher • Susan & Joel Barker • Sam Boren & Steven King • Ronnie & Roger Brooks • Whitney & Sarah Clark • Page & Jay Cowles • Nancy Gibson & Ron Sternal • Dan Gjelten & Lisa Burke • Peter Goss & Karma Walker • Peter & Mary Gove • Bud & Carol Hayden • Diane & John Herman • Jeanine & Zachary Holden • Hokan & Penny Miller • Susan & Bob Morrison • Ford & Catherine Nicholson • Amy & Chip Pearson • Susan Davis Price • John & Marsha Soucheray • Deanna Wiener & Jim Tilsen • Philip Willkie • Kathryn Wolford & Ed Reilly


Mary Adamski & Lance Ihinger • John Anfinson • Peter Bachman & Janet Rice • John & Mary Beattie • Ellen & Peter Brown • Robert Bruininks & Susan Hagstrum • Ellen Butler • Steve Christenson & Lisa Hondros • Ellie Crosby • Sara & Sean DeKok • David Durenberger & Susan Foote • Daniel Engstrom & Barbara Coffin • Tessa Enroth & Michael Jones • Forrest & Lisa Flint • Tony & Diane Hofstede • Bill & Denise Lynch • Kit & Bill Prendergast • Diane & Darryl Sannes • Michael & Gretchen Sieben • Kathy Stack • Bob & Sandy Tilsen


Joseph Bagnoli & Barbara Cox • Candace Campbell & Jerry Seck • Leslie Cohan & Todd Norsten • George Dunn & Donna Harris • Holly Einess & Brian Kantar • Sheila Gothmann • Phyllis Kahn • Ron Kroese & Kimberly Colburn • Perry McGowan & Sheila Smith • Lynn & Tim Moratzka • Phil Riveness • Harry & Ginny Sieben • Katie Sieben & Josh Straka

Corporate Support




Bremer Bank • Boyum Barenscheer • Kraus-Anderson Insurance • SEA LIFE at Mall of America • Sitka Salmon Shares

This page was created using event photos by Anna Botz, an egret photo and aerial videos by Tom Reiter, a watershed animation map by NASA Scientific Visualization Studio, a heron photo by Michael L. Baird, and event illustration by Rahn + Co.


Anna Botz