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This is also a re-post from my other account

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October 14, 2016

This is my first real blog update, NEAT!

I’ve been here in St. Louis for over a month now and I’ve learned a lot.

In terms of my site, I’ve learned the basics of the local history relating to the construction of the Arch and the Old Courthouse as well as the importance of the Dred Scott Case in contributing to the unrest that would eventually lead to the Civil War and the movement to end slavery. I’ve read a lot about the fur-trading mountain men and their enormous contribution to the Westward expansion of our country (as well as their less than agreeable relationship with the Plains tribes of Native Americans). I’ve also settled into the city as a whole quite nicely; there’s plenty to do here: live music, great vinyl shops, community events, and good food…pinpointing the city’s best BBQ may take all 9 months.

In terms of my role as a CVA , I’ve had the chance of making some pretty sweet connections already. This is the part of my internship I’ve been most looking forward to, the part where I get to go to events that I’d want to check out anyways (urban cycling initiatives, trash pick up days, and local food movements to name a few). Albeit, with the goal of making connections and furthering the Park’s goals and partnerships of course…but still, most of its been pretty fun so far.

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We’ve got a lot of events being planned, but here’s two cool things that we’ve done so far:

First off is the Great Mississippi River Cleanup put on by Living Lands and Waters.

An organization committed to cleaning up our country’s rivers and waterways. I HIGHLY recommend that you look into the founder, Chad Pregracke’s, story. He is living proof that one person can make an enormous difference, even if all you have at the time is what’s already in front of you.

This event was 100% in my wheelhouse, that wheelhouse being environmentalism and free food.

Essentially, we volunteers sped up and down the Mississippi River in a fleet of speed boats picking up garbage along the banks. We bagged it, threw it on LL&W’s trash barge to be disposed of properly, and then all sat down to eat together.

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Still hoping for a coining of the term “Gar-Barge”

Perhaps the most exciting part about this event was talking with LL&W’s awesome staff about the possibility for a partnership with our park. LL&W have an overflow of volunteers (Usually around 200 people participate), and they are more than willing to connect us with some of those extras.  Most of the day we worked in areas that had the Arch in clear view, so I thought..”Why are we not doing something with this organization already?”. LL&W is here every year working right next to us with a huge volunteer base, and the Mississippi River is almost literally on the front steps* of our park grounds.

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See expertly crafted MS Paint diagram above*

So long story short, one of my projects this year will be creating a bi-annual cleanup project along our river banks. Essentially we will “Adopt a Mile” of Mississippi River adjacent to our park. By the end of my time here my goal is to have established a partner relationship with LL&W while at the same time setting up this program in a way that park volunteers will continue to lead this annual effort even after I’m gone!

– 1 new partnership formed

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Secondly, last weekend our department helped host the Wonders of Wildlife school (WOW), an outdoor conservation education school put on by our park and a number of our partners, that provides outdoor experiences for inner city children and their families. This program offers a lot to kids in several cities around the country. At our St. Louis WOW, we offered sessions on archery, outdoor cooking, tent set up, birdhouse building, bird watching, fishing, geocaching, canoeing, kayaking, and a monarch butterfly lesson.

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My supervisor  and I set up and operated the archery station for most of the day, which was a blast. Hitting the target was a huge confidence boost for these kids, with most of them (and their parents) asking us where the nearest range was.

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The weekend was a success as far as I could tell, with a lot of the kids itching to participate in anything and everything we were offering. At one point I had three kids arguing over who got to help me hammer their tent stakes in…like the least exciting part of the entire weekend, but the kids were jazzed nonetheless. At the end of the day I felt satisfied in the fact that, in some small way, I helped influence future conservationists. A cause that needs all the help it can get right now.

While no new partnerships were made at this event. I made several connections to our existing partners, and learned first-hand what it takes organize a huge event like this.

Existing Partners:

  • Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • US National Fish and Wildlife
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Missouri State University
  • Bass Pro Shop

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There’s plenty of other projects I could talk about in the works, but I’ll wait till they actually happen to do so. Peace.

Bryce Yoder
Centennial Volunteer Ambassador
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
St. Louis, Missouri