In our efforts to recruit more volunteers from the University of Minnesota, I proposed a project collaboration with the university’s Honors department, and am now working with a student to develop a research project concerning the history of riverside communities in the Twin Cities. Katharine is a motivated, curious freshman who just moved to the Cities from Ohio, and I’m so excited to be working with her. She’s going to be researching a neighborhood along the river, with a focus on how it was in 1916 (the year NPS was created), 1988 (the year our park was designated) and today. There are so many reasons why this project excites me, but I’ll just share a few of them.

Katharine is new to the Cities, and is already delving into their history and getting to know them. I went to school here for four years and definitely didn’t take full advantage of all they had to offer. I’m hoping that by working with us, she’ll have more opportunities to explore and learn about her new home, at least for the next four years!

Because she’s starting this research so early in her academic career, there’s potential for this to turn into a project of larger magnitude for her, and at the very least give her a good dose of practical research experience. As an anthropology and biology double major, this topic seems like the perfect fit for her. She’s already collaborating with faculty and university professionals, and getting expert advice on resources the university has to offer.There are multiple graduate students conducting similar research, so she has people to go to for help but is also contributing a unique perspective to their greater story.

We’re hoping that this will culminate in a presentation of some sort, whether it’s just Katharine or we can get other students with similar projects involved. I’m hoping to reach out to people and create a sort of Centennial Symposium, with people sharing thoughts on the last 100 years for the Cities and how they see the park and the river changing in the next 100 years. Even if that doesn’t work out, we’ve at least gotten one student to develop a vested interest in the park that will hopefully continue for as long as she stays here.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Katharine’s research develops, and how we can get more people involved in this project. The park has focused much of its historical information on major landmarks along the river, and occasionally important places get left out. Katharine’s research will fill a hole in our information, and hopefully we can incorporate her research into materials we offer to visitors. I think this is going to be a fun and informative project, and I’m excited to see how the park and the university community respond to her work!