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4 explorers

3 Rivers

2 Schools

1 Big Island

February 18-28, 2013

Leave no Child on Shore!

Big Island Update:

The BIG ISLAND Expedition Feb 18-28th is definitely on thanks to recent donations coming from as far-flung places as Oxford, Boston, Seattle, Victoria BC, Clarksdale, Japan, Texas, Memphis, Oklahoma, and everywhere in between….

A couple of “Firsts”

We believe this will be the first documented circumnavigation of Big Island in the history of its existence -- at least since the Quapaw left the area.

This will also probably be the first time Arkansas public school students will be team members of a Mississippi River expedition.

Many, many thanks to advance commitments of support coming from...

Emily Cooper, David & Michael Hanson, Seattle Biscuit Company, Leslie & Mark Brozovich, Charles & Sandra West, Jerry Laurain, Barbara Boss & Linda Brewer, Russell Reynolds, Frank & Sue Ruskey, Bayard & Jane Hart Morgan, Dale and Evelyn Ljunggren, Dr. Patricia Johnson - Delta Chiropractic, Abby Ruskey, Cliff & Lucille Ochs, Bill Gregg & Rosemary Post, and … you?

Special thanks to Earl Peoples and Charlotte Miller for their commitment to the KIPP school.

Its not too late to join in and help out!

The 2013 Big Island Circumnavigation will not be possible without the help of many hands committed to to bringing kids to the river and the river to the kids. Leave No Child On Shore! See below for how you can help “paddle the canoe.”

Thanks to US Fish & Wildlife and Mississippi State University for letting us participate in their 2013 pallid sturgeon fish count.

Thanks to the Delta Cultural Center of Helena for committing their fantastic facilities and staff.

Thanks to the US Army Corps of Engineers, in particular Angela Smith, the “Our Mississippi” Curriculum Coordinator. Check out their website

Thanks to the teachers and administrators of the KIPP Delta Public Schools for jumping on board this year with characteristic bravado. KIPP High School students Oscar Donaby and Tristan Honeycutt will join the expedition as explorers!

Thanks to the teachers and administrators of St. Ann of Normandy for continuing this annual event for 10 years and counting. And also for allowing their star tech & computer teacher/mentor/visionary Michael F. Clark take 2 weeks out of his teaching schedule to lead this learning adventure!

Thanks to business sponsors Quapaw Canoe Company and Big Muddy Adventures, without whom this would never happen.

Thanks to founder Big Muddy Mike Clark who initiated these learning adventures when he dedicated himself to connecting kids and rivers in 2001 on a 3-month expedition down the Mississippi River.

We are well on our way to raising the $10,000 necessary to make this exciting and educational circumnavigation happen. See below how you can help:

Circumnavigation of Big Island

A Learning Adventure February 18-28, 2013

Presented by: Lower Mississippi River Foundation

You can help make this learning adventure come to life with a donation to the Lower Mississippi River Foundation, which is presenting this expedition. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Participation level:

____Corporate Sponsorship $2500

____School Sponsorship $1000 (Sponsor one of the schools involved)

____Individual Sponsorship $500 (Sponsor one of the classrooms involved)

____Business Sponsorship $250

____Family Homeschool Option $100

____Private Individual $100

____ Other: $__________

Thank you! Any donation will help bring our kids to the river -- and the river to our kids. Leave no child on shore!

Please make out check and send to:

The Lower Mississippi River Foundation

291 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, MS 38614

Please contact John Ruskey for more information or call 662-902-7841.

Circumnavigation of Big Island

A Learning Adventure February 18-28, 2013

Presented by: Lower Mississippi River Foundation

On Monday, February 18, 2013 Mike Clark & John Ruskey and a team of Mighty Quapaws and KIPP students will embark on a 10-day circumnavigation of Big Island by canoe as a learning adventure for the benefit of sponsoring schools and classrooms throughout the region.

Starting at Rosedale Mississippi the explorers will paddle downstream the Mighty Mississippi to the Arkansas River Confluence, and make base camp #1 for several days of natural science research and documentation. The Arkansas is the biggest and wildest confluence on the entire Lower Mississippi, full of bear, wild boar, birds and strange muddy landscapes. During the Great Flood of 2011 the Arkansas began carving a new outlet to the Mississippi in a violent explosion of water coursing behind Cat Island.

The explorers will next paddle up the great Arkansas River 43 miles, around several dozen giant river meanders in the fashion of Lewis & Clark. This portion will involve very difficult upstream paddling, poling and cordelling (the French word for pulling a boat with a long rope). At Base Camp #2 the adventure duo will continue research and documentation in the dark heart of the deepest woods of Big Island. Finding sign of the reclusive Louisiana Black Bear will be one of the tasks at hand, as well as conducting a bird and amphibian count. The team will be collecting pallid sturgeon data for US Fish & Wildlife as well as participating in the annual bird count for the National Audubon Society. The next challenge will be to locate a suitable back channel oxbow or wetlands to cross over and reach the White River. A route will have to be scouted through the briars, snake-infested woods and alligator swamps. The explorers will then manually portage all of their gear and canoes from the Arkansas River to the White River, a process that might require one long dirty day.

Now begins the downstream portion of the adventure. The explorers will paddle approximately twenty miles of the White River, a very remote and wild river which is here surrounded by the White River National Wildlife Refuge. Base Camp #3 will be established for the exploration of some of the most remote bayous around which are found the giant Bald Cypress, a favorite haunt for bears, raccoons, prothonotary warblers and bald eagles. The mouth of the Mississippi is now fenced at the White by its newest lock and dam, through which the adventurers will have to negotiate by being flushed through a 1200 foot lock chamber controlled by 120-ton steel gates. The last segment of the journey is a 25 mile run down the Mighty Mississippi, along the way the explorers will visit a steamboat wreck (the Victor) which was exposed in the 2011 Flood, as well as the old channel of the White behind Montgomery Island.

Big Island is a truly spectacular natural phenomena, a landscape cut by, flooded by and defined by three biggest and most important rivers of deep south, the Mississippi, the Arkansas and the White. This will be the first documented circumnavigation of Big Island in the history of its existence.

Sponsored by St. Ann of Normandy and KIPP Delta Public Schools. Special thanks to partners Delta Cultural Center of Helena and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

What is the

Lower Mississippi River Foundation?

The Lower Mississippi River Foundation was created in 2011 for the betterment of public outdoor recreation on the Lower Mississippi River with projects and programming oriented towards education, access, and enhanced environmental quality of the Lower Mississippi River & its tributaries & distributaries & drainages. The LMRF will oversee the Mighty Quapaw Apprenticeship Program and the KIPP Delta Public Schools Canoeing Program. The LMRF will now be in charge of the creation of the Lower Mississippi River Water Trail ( The LMRF will also be responsible for the Friends of the Sunflower River, for the WILD MILES ( and for the stewardship of Buck Island.

Our purpose is to recognize, protect and promote the Lower Mississippi River as a viable wilderness for its overall ecological betterment and for increased enjoyment of future generations of American citizens.

Our immediate goals are Outdoor Education for Regional Youth, Outdoor Survival Training for Disadvantaged Youth, Access for Recreational Paddlers, Ethical Water Use & Stewardship, Ethical Outdoor Recreation, Sustainable Eco-tourism, and Holistic approach to Eco and Cultural Tourism.

For more information, please contact:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation Inc

291 Sunflower Avenue|Clarksdale|Mississippi|38614|