South Dakota >> Izaak Walton League members and staff spent time on the Missouri River this spring educating youth and cleaning up the river.
Youth Learn About the “Mighty Mo"
Nearly 400 students attended the 2012 Missouri River Watershed Education Festival May 4th in Yankton, South Dakota. The Izaak Walton League organized the event in cooperation with many other federal, state, and local organizations. Held on the banks of the Missouri River, the festival featured handson presentations that taught students about the many issues facing America’s longest — and most altered — river. Students learned about impacts of the 2011 Missouri River flood, the many fish species that live in the river, endangered and invasive species, the importance of cottonwood trees to river wildlife (including bald eagles), water quality, wetlands, water safety, the significance of the river to the Sioux Tribe, and more. The League’s Yankton Area Chapter helped fund the event, and chapter members worked as festival volunteers.
This year’s festival was the largest in the four years the event has been held. Students from South Dakota and Nebraska were surprised by what they learned about a river they have lived near their entire lives. This annual event helps educate the next generation of Missouri River stewards.
Tons of Trash Collected in Missouri River Clean-up
Nearly 3.5 tons of trash and debris was collected May 5th at the Missouri River Clean-up in Yankton, South Dakota. The League has helped organize this event for the past four years. This year, more than 120 volunteers turned out for the event, including members of the Yankton Area Chapter. They were taken out by boat to sites along the river, where volunteers collected litter and trash that was hauled back to the Riverside Park boat ramp and disposed of by Yankton city employees. The clean-up improves habitat for Missouri River fish and wildlife and the recreational experience for the thousands of boaters and anglers who enjoy the river — and who support local economies while doing so. Many of the volunteers said participation in the event gives them a sense of “ownership” of the river and that they want the river to stay clean in the future.