Kelly McCann – Mississippi National River and Recreation Area


This post is part of a series so please read our recap of the summer at Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway first! Thank you!

With winter beginning to creep into the Upper Midwest, we all have some much welcomed time to reflect on the season so far and work towards developing new programs for the Centennial year that is quickly approaching. It was also time for the second steering committee for the Let’s Move! Outside movement in the Twin Cities! IMG_9457.jpg

Our YMCA Community Connections Corpsmember, Jeanne Salmon, is spearheading Let’s Move! Outside in the Twin Cities and hosted 11 stakeholders for the second steering committee last week. There were representatives from the YMCA, Conservation Corps, DNR, NPS, and various non-profits interested in getting youth more involved outdoors. To date, the YMCA database shows that 8 organizations in the Twin Cities have engaged 86000 youth outdoors, with 3900 youth in volunteer activities. THAT’S GREAT! We want better!

I’d imagine the Twin Cities was chosen to be a pilot city because of our urban park, the pro-outdoors Mayor of Saint Paul, and being the reigning national champs of park systems (our sports teams aren’t that great, people, you gotta give us something! But seriously, it’s a true brag). One huge, blustery downfall of our volunteer system: WINTER. We’re also the reigning national chamIMG_7416.JPGps of cold (seriously.). That’s where we haven’t the greatest space for improvement in our volunteer numbers and community reach. This steering committee wasn’t originally focused on winter activities, but it became apparent that it’s the season that we need to pry those kids away from their multiple screens and get them outdoors… or at least thinking and caring about the outdoors.

We talk
ed generally about how to create partnerships, working with the YMCA’s huge membership base, and whether to engage kids or families first (the classic chicken or the egg). I ended up stumbling into a good idea: can we bring all the volunteer coordinators in our MISS corridor together to collaborate and expand volunteer projects that work? and it’s going to HAPPEN! Our Community Connections Corpsmember and our charitable partner’s volunteer coordinator are teaming up to invite all the volunteer coordinators for a luncheon. We hope to make connections organically and find some key ways to start to build a more cohesive volunteer effort in the 72 mile stretch of the Mississippi River. My goal is to pair up similar programs like those revolved around pollinators, citizen science, and habitat restoration.IMG_1836.JPG

Instead of competing for volunteer numbers, we hope to collaborate and ultimately get more people outside!

Our next steering committee in January (if I’m not the ice sculpture formerly known as Kelly) will focus on making a specific and targeted plan for Spring, Summer, and a multi-year sustainability plan.