Close Window

LMRD 556, Wednesday, Feb 28, 2018
The Voice of the Lower Mississippi River
Introducing Shannon McMulkin

LMRF Executive Director Shannon McMulkin hands-on during Sunflower River cleanup, flanked by Capt. Lena Von Machui (Quapaw Canoe Company) and Bianca Zaharescu (Spring Initiative)


A quick thank-you to all who attended annual LMRF General Membership Meeting & Sunflower River Cleanup! We had fun paddling in the flooding Sunflower River, but it was alarming to see how close some homes and businesses are to the water. It was also alarming to see the amount of trash in the river, things like plastic bottles, styrofoam cups, plastic bags, and etc. This is an unnecessary insult to our river. Special thanks to Spring Initiative for the many hands involved led by Matt, Bianca and Isaac! Thanks to Lisa, Boyce, Erin (LMRF Board member), Possum (original Friend of Sunflower River), and Mighty Quapaws Mark River and Lena H-Bird. We love y’all! All photos in this LMRD by John Ruskey from last weekend’s cleanup.

Seeking New Channels to Best do our Work:

Like our beloved muddy river, we are constantly seeking new channels to best do our work. Keep reading below for an introduction of our new executive director, another Colorado-born naturalist (like myself), who has found her way into the Lower Mississippi Valley.

Dear Friends, Family and Fellow River Rats (from John Ruskey)

2017 Recap: The Lower Mississippi River Foundation made great forward strides in 2017, thanks to your support as a charter member. One of our greatest accomplishments was the completion of the 6-year Rivergator project, one million words describing the wilderness of the big river. Rivergator saw 244,921 visitors in 2017, with 2,410,011 hits. Rivergator has guided countless paddlers, birders, and other outdoor enthusiasts to safely enjoy the Mississippi River, and help protect it for the dynamic wild place it truly is.

New Directions in 2018: As with all things concerning the river, we are constantly searching new channels and directions to best do our work of Lasting Stewardship through Deep Engagement — particularly through our Mississippi Valley Youth. With the help of our 2016 Strategic Plan, we have been doing some soul-searching, and decided that we need to focus our efforts in 2018 and the next 5 years on getting kids to and on the river!

This will be done through our LiNKS program (= Leave No Kid on Shore). The first step in this will be a June, 2018, Summer Camp - one week on the river with 20 High School Youth. (More on 2nd page enclosed, a letter from the camp leader and new director, Shannon McMulkin).

Furthermore, I have decided to step down as Executive Director, and re-focus my efforts on our LMRF Advisory Board, which was chartered in our 2011 By-Laws to include members from the seven states along the Middle/Lower Mississippi River for long-term strategy and vision, but to date not created. (Maybe some of you will be interested in joining?). Also, Quapaw Canoe Company is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year — and needs my attention!

Introducing Shannon McMulkin: But, now the most exciting news for me to share with you today — we have a fantastic new leader who has already hit the ground running!

Starting in Feb, 2018, environmental science educator Shannon McMulkin has taken over reins as LMRF Executive Director. Shannon has a long track record with the LMRF, as partner in youth programming in Helena, AR. Go to accompanying letter from Shannon after you finish mine. You may not hear from me as often as you have in the past, but please know I will always be worker bee for my queen, the river, and always maintain an integral function within the LMRF, both for its long term strategy, but also annual programming.

My greatest joys in the past years are getting to know the river, and getting to know you! The survival of our precious earth requires the kind of balance the LMRF is so good at providing: balancing nature with humanity. The LMRF does this specifically by providing meaningful experience for our Mississippi Valley youth; and doing it in a way that is healthy to the biota of the big river — treading lightly but with a full heart, and good intention.

I will always be yours, in service of the big river,

John Ruskey

LMRF Executive Director Shannon McMulkin hands-on during Sunflower River cleanup, flanked by Capt. Lena Von Machui (Quapaw Canoe Company) and Bianca Zaharescu (Spring Initiative)

Letter From LMRF Director
Shannon McMulkin:

Dear LMRF Charter Members, Friends, Family & other River Rats:

In 2013 I joined Teach for America and moved to Helena to teach high school science. For the previous five years, I had been working in environmental education and had seen the power that connecting people of all ages to their environment can have.

When I started teaching in Helena, I knew I wanted my students to connect to the amazing environment of the Mississippi River, that was right outside their door. This turned out to be a near impossible task. I learned quickly that the Mississippi River was locked behind the levees both physically and in the minds of most of the community. I might have given up in defeat but, luckily, I met John Ruskey. Over the next four years I was able to build a class that was hands-on and focused on the river ecosystem only because John was always available as a resource and guide. He is leaving some very large and unique shoes for me to fill but I am honored by the opportunity to carry on his legacy.

With his continued help, we are excited about the future of the Lower Mississippi River Foundation and what is in store for 2018. In June we will be hosting our first summer camp on the Mississippi River. Twenty students from Arkansas and Mississippi will join us for five days as we travel from Helena to Arkansas City, taking on increasing responsibility for the navigating and paddling voyageur canoes along the way. We know the power the river has to transform lives but we also know that most students in the Delta don’t have the opportunity to experience it. This camp is the first step in ensuring the Mississippi is accessible to all. We are offering one camp this year but hope to expand the program to reach more students in 2019!

Everything that was accomplished in 2017 was the result of John’s hard work and your support as charter members of the LMRF. I look forward to working with all of you to improve the health of the river and the lives of those who live in its floodplain. Please continue to support our efforts by renewing your charter membership for 2018!

For those of you who haven’t met me, I included a picture so if you see me on the river you can say hi!

Looking forward to serving the river with you,

Shannon McMulkin

2018: Continue your LMRF Charter Membership!

$25 jump in the big canoe as a Paddler and join the crew in the excitement of starting a new journey down the river.

$50 become a Voyageur and connect with the river that connects us all.

$100 become a Steward for deep engagement in the next generation of river residents, our kids.

$250 become a Pathfinder and help us find our way around the next bend looking for greater understanding and appreciation of the biggest river in North America.

$500 - become a Pilot to locate the Mississippi Valley youth that need the most attention and the lands that need the most protection.

$1,000 become a Navigator and help steer us toward a balanced river with equal access for all.

$2,500 (or more) become our Partner in bringing health & happiness to the biggest river in North America.

Send your check to: Lower Mississippi River Foundation 291 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale, MS 38614

…and welcome aboard as a charter member!

Details: annual membership, dated from the day we receive your donation. Charter members will be welcomed throughout 2018. The LMRF is a 501(c)3 in good standing. All donations are considered tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.


The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

is brought to you courtesy of:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation


Unsubscribe: If you decide no longer want to receive the Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, you can disembark yourself by hitting the “Click to Unsubscribe” line at the bottom of every Dispatch.