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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 767
~~~~~~ Monday, Feb 24, 2020 ~~~~~~~

Clarksdale, MS, Helena, AR, Memphis, TN, Vicksburg, MS

The Lower Mississippi River Foundation...

Immerses youth in nature...

Then helps them out! (Community Day Trip 2019)

For Deep Stewardship (Summer Camp 2019)

~~~But we can't do it alone!~~~

Mail Check:
Lower Mississippi River Foundation
P.O. Box 127
107 Perry St
Helena, AR 72342

Online Donations (credit card):
Set up monthly donations at

February is for Friends of the LMRF!

You might get a letter soon. Sorry for any doubling up of requests. We are a low-tech organization run entirely by volunteers! If you have already donated for 2020, thank you in advance. (As you can see, we are in our annual fundraising campaign...)

2019 LMRF Programs
To be repeated in 2020:

In 2019 the Lower Mississippi River Foundation (LMRF) served 761 kids and 281 adults for a total of 1042 people from the Lower Mississippi Valley, primarily from river counties in Arkansas and Mississippi. Here is a breakdown of the programs and numbers:

Field Trips:

In 2019 the LMRF conducted 11 field trips with 175 kids, from 4 Schools ( Helena West Helena, Barton, KIPP, Palestine Wheatley) and 3 Youth Groups (Griot, Spring, Thrive)

Community Canoe Trips:

In 2019 the LMRF oversaw 5 community canoe trips + 2 family days + 2 cleanups

with over 150 people

Other Activities:

6 kids completed the 2nd annual Mississippi River Leadership Camp (1 week)

25 participants competed in the 1st Annual Buck Island River Race

10 kids participated in the River Stewards After School Program over the space of 10 weeks

In 2020 we will continue the same programs — but we cannot do it without you!

For checks, make out check and send to:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation

P.O. Box 127

Helena, AR 72342

For credit card:
go to:

Thank you for your continued support! Sincerely yours in service of the river and our kids.

2020 LMRF Board of Directors:

President Kevin Smith, Treasurer Robert Cheek, Secretary Jenn Mohead, at large: Aallyah Wright, Erin Lee, Corey Washington, and Shannon McMulkin.

Volunteers: Mark River, Tanner Aljets, Lena Von Machui, Scott Shirey, Nolan Dean, Dr. Cliff Ochs and Ole Miss Dept of biology graduate students, Robbie Whatley, Todd Dixon, Kim Townsend, PJ Townsend, Liberty Lee, Kristina Root-Carranza, Cara Curtis, John Ruskey, and many, many others!

Partner Organizations: Entergy, Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, Helena Health Foundation, Arkansas Game & Fish, Helena Fire Dept, Phillips County Sheriff, Mississippi River State Park, US Coast Guard, Clarksdale Collective, Quapaw Canoe Company, and lots of others!

Do You Ever Take Something Special For Granted?

All aboard the Adventure Bus! (thanks to Helena Health Foundation)

...Something of great beauty,
just over the levee?

LMRF taking kids to the river -- week-long Summer Camp 2019

...A place where Delta kids learn new skills,
self-understanding, and peace -- in nature?

(LMRF Summer Camp 2019, West Montezuma Island)

Letter from Kevin Smith
President, Lower Mississippi River Foundation
Mayor, City of Helena

Do you ever take for granted something that -- for others -- is pretty special? I have.

In the past year, my wife Sissy and I had that experience several times, watching children and others be exposed to the natural world that surrounds them for the very first time, thanks to the Lower Mississippi River Foundation, its staff and many volunteers.

For example, we participated in a family fun day at Storm Creek Lake, and taught kids to kayak who had never been on the water, or in a boat, much less a tipsy one. We went out on the Mississippi River in large canoes and paddled with children and their families to expose them to the natural wonders of our river, and how to enjoy it safely, but fully. I will never forget the eyes of the children as they picked and ate the wild berries off low-hanging branches floating in the swollen river, leaving them with purple-stained hands. Thanks to the Helena Health Foundation, this year we launched our Adventure Bus, and guided kids on adventures into the St. Francis National Forest, the Mississippi River State Park, and many other places.

Our Foundation is a 501c(3) charitable organization that does this and so much more to bring the majesty of the Big River, and the natural world, to our local schools, and everyone throughout our community, our county, and the Delta region.

We use your donations to match grants and corporate contributions so that we can continue this mission. On behalf of all of those who participate and benefit from this, I want to thank you for your help in the past. It was your help that made it possible to watch a 5th grader learn how to paddle on the water, for the very first time. It was your help that exposed entire families to be respectful of the big river, and to bask in all its natural power and beauty.

As you consider all that you are thankful for, this year I hope you will contribute to the Lower Mississippi River Foundation. Your donation will help us continue to grow and reach those who might never be exposed to the same things you and I take for granted, every day.

Thank you for your consideration,


Kevin A. Smith
President, Lower Mississippi River Foundation
Mayor, City of Helena

LMRF President, Kevin Smith (R) with wife Sissy (L) and group of parents and kids, Community Canoe to Buck Island, June 2019

Route Finding and Geography, Summer Camp 2019

If you have experienced the great outdoors for yourself, you know what LMRF president Kevin Smith is talking about. We believe that everyone deserves access to that experience. That’s why LMRF is working to remove the barriers that prevent people from accessing the natural beauty of the Mississippi River.

In 2020 the LMRF will:

-provide overnight and day camps on the river for students from the Delta

- provide in-class programming and field trips that connect youth to the Mississippi

-Double its Mississippi River Youth Leadership Camp, with 2 consecutive weeks -- one for female youth, and one for male youth -- two consecutive weeks on the biggest river in North America -- for high school kids from the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta.

-Oversee the 2nd Annual Buck Island River Race (1st Saturday of October)

-Continue its River Stewards After School Program

Create a series of Field Trips for Arkansas and Mississippi Schools on Mississippi River, and other outdoor locations in the river's floodplain, such as wetlands, forests and sandbars.

We need your support to continue these programs in 2020!

Accessing the river is not easy; it requires boats, safety equipment, guides, transportation, food, and camping supplies.

- A gift of $100 could help get one student out on the Mississippi River for a day.

-A gift of $300 would allow a child to camp out for a night on a river bank.

-A gift of $1,000 would enable one high schooler to attend our Mississippi River Youth Leadership Camp 2020.

-A gift of $2500 or more would help us hire a full time leader for Field Trips and Summer Programming

-Donations of $10, $25 or $50 allow us to continue onshore and in-class programming that sparks youth connection to the river

Your support helps us provide transformational experiences for youth in the Delta by exposing them to the natural beauty in their backyard. Help us continue to create the next generation of river stewards!

Thank you for your consideration.

Big River Blessings,

Fundraising Committee, Lower Mississippi River Foundation
LMRF Board Members: Erin Lee, Jenn Mohead; Volunteers: Liberty Lee, John Ruskey

(Carpenter Art Garden --winners in big canoe division -- 2018 Outdoors Inc Memphis Canoe & Kayak Race, 4th Chickasaw Bluff, Memphis)


Mail Check:
Lower Mississippi River Foundation
P.O. Box 127
107 Perry St
Helena, AR 72342

Online Donations (credit card):
Set up monthly donations at

(LMRF Summer Camp, Helena Harbor)

Dear Friends of the LMRF:

The Mississippi River flows joyfully through the bottom of our great country and creates one of the strongest and richest biotas in the world by virtue of its annual cycle of flood and drought. But no environment is bullet-proof. There is no more important time than now to increase stewardship of the Lower Mississippi. We need more kids and parents on the river, so they see firsthand what it is like in its best possible way. We need them as witnesses and caretakers now before we lose the gains made at the end of the last millennium. We are seeing more algal blooms in the backwaters, and more trash in the river. Power plants and steel mills are important to our economy, but they are not as important as the health of our families and communities. Water is the cornerstone of all life. Can’t new industries be built in places already industrialized? And can’t they be more thoughtful about the river that sustains them? For decades the 1972 Water Rights Act has led to better water quality in incremental steps — every year adding to the gains of the years previous. But now integral enforcement is being stripped away, and there is increasing pressure from industry and suburbia for space in the incalculably vital wetlands which adjoin the river.

The LMRF and its partners believe in a healthy future for the river, but we cannot do it alone. Shannon McMulkin, Kevin Smith, and the entire LMRF board are making this happen in many ways, and have big dreams for 2020.

Thanks for joining us in the big canoe, and helping us paddle along through the ups and downs of the big river. May the health and spirit of the river be with us all.

In service,

-John Ruskey
Owner, Quapaw Canoe Company (1998-2020)
Founding Director, LMRF (2011)

Four More LMRF Highlights from 2019:
(to be continued in 2020)

1) Field Trips for Arkansas and Mississippi Schools on Mississippi River
Kids (and teachers) need play time!
(KIPP field trip to Buck Island -- on big river in big canoes, Sept 2019)

2) Adventure Bus
Thanks to Helena Health Foundation - 25 pass bus for youth transport

3) 1st Annual Buck Island Mississippi River Canoe Race!
1st weekend in October, 9 miles from mouth of the St. Francis River to Helena Harbor. To be repeated in 2020.

4) Community Canoe Trips
On Sunflower and Mississippi Rivers

*Note: This Saturday:
Community Canoe Trip on Sunflower River
12pm, Saturday, Feb 15th, 2020
Meet at 12noon for potluck on banks of river behind Quapaw Canoe Company in downtown Clarksdale!


The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch "Voice of the Lower Mississippi River" is published by the Quapaw Canoe Company, 22 years of high quality access to the wild wonder of the big river in human powered vessels. Photos and writing by John Ruskey, Mark River and others. Please write for re-publishing. Feel free to share with friends or family, but also credit appropriately. Go to and click on "Quapaw Dispatch" for viewing back issues of the LMRD.


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The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

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Our Projects:

Rivergator: 1Million words describing the Lower Mississippi River, overseen by the LMRF:


Wild Miles: 71% of the Lower Miss is wild according to river rats. Will it stay that way?


Our Friends:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation is dedicated to promoting stewardship of the Lower and Middle Mississippi River through deep engagement.


1Mississippi River Citizen Program: River Citizens are people who want to clean up and protect America’s greatest River. Whether in armchairs or wading boots, River Citizens protect the River by speaking up on its behalf and caring for it in simple ways that make a big difference. Together, we can protect the River for future generations. Take the first step today and sign up for free as a River Citizen at 1Mississippi, can the River count on you?"


The Walter Anderson Museum of Art inspires discovery, imagination, and community-building on the Gulf Coast and beyond through programs, exhibitions, and outreach; and embodies Walter Anderson’s vision for societies in harmony with their environments. "Our mission is to empower lifelong curiosity and connection to the natural world through the art of Walter Anderson and kindred artists."


LEAN: the Louisiana Environmental Action Network: Before LEAN was founded in 1986, polluters ran roughshod over Louisiana’s unique environment and way of life. Since then LEAN has fought to safeguard not just Louisiana’s scenic beauty, wildlife and culture but more importantly those underserved citizens that don’t have a voice. Help LEAN serve the needs of Louisiana's communities.


The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. The Center accomplishes this mission by delivering cutting-edge education and research to millions of people every year. Enjoy your world. Leave No Trace.


Coahoma Collective catalyzes arts-driven, community-inclusive revitalization in downtown Clarksdale


Big Muddy Adventures: adventures on the Missouri, Mississippi, Meramec and Illinois -- covering the Grand Central Station of America's rivers from home base St. Louis.

(LMRF Summer Camp 2018, West Montezuma Island)