Wednesday, July 4, 2018

2018 Water Journeys are complete - Thank You!

Water Journeys--Drink! Campers at Kaposia Landing
Water Journeys-Rain! Campers at the Native American Medicine Garden

The Water Journey's - Rain! and Water Journeys-Drink! Camps are complete for 2018. You can get a glimpse into the campers' adventures by by viewing the campers' story in the GIS Story Maps for each week (see other website tabs), looking at prior blog posts on this website, and by visiting the exhibit at Institute on the Environment this summer.

Parents, please note that the two featured photos from your campers are included the GIS Story Maps and exhibit, and the rest of their journey photos will be posted under the Images tab on this website in July. 

Thank you to our wonderful campers this year! You were all a joy to spend time with, as we explored water together and its connections to the Mississippi River. Your pictures, artwork, stewardship planting, and story help inspire others to follow your lead to care for water and learn its hidden stories.

And thank you to our wonderful team: the camp counselors, Madeline Harpell, 2018 Lead Teacher, and camp team: Jess Foor, Najma Ali, and Vu Dang. A very special thank you to our tour guide partners, essential to the camp experience: Cathy Abene, Principal Civil Engineer for University of Minnesota, with additional thanks to Madeline and Shawn from her team; Abby Olson, Park Ranger, National Park Service, Rena Weis, Environmental Engineer Intern, from Wenck, educating on behalf of the West Mississippi Watershed Management Commission; Jodi Wallin, Alex Rossow, and Jeremy Erikson from St. Paul Regional Water Services; and Nick Voss, Education and Outreach Coordinator, from Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization.

Finally, thank you to Camp Program Coordinator, Venessa Fiedler, University of Minnesota Recreation & Wellness Summer Youth Program, to Institute on the Environment Sustainability Education Group, for hosting the camp and additional camp support, and to Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund which development of the camp possible.

Jonee Kulman Brigham and Beth Mercer-Taylor, Camp Coordinators

Initial Funding for developing this project and implementing it in 2016 was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state's air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Drink Week Day 5 Sharing the Story

During the camp day, we tested our water to see how it changed along its journey, and we worked on art some more.

Water Quality Testing

Reporting out results to compare water quality at different locations

Water taste testing - comparing water from the drinking fountain
to bottled water. (Most of us preferred the drinking fountain)

An activity near the end to remember our favorite parts of camp.

Reciting the camp poem as we take a final drink of water from
The drinking fountain.
 The final activity of camp was to share the story of what we did and learned. That way other people can learn the story of Water We Drink so they want to save water and help keep it clean. One way we did this is to have an art-science exhibit showing where we went, the photographs we took, the notebooks and maps we made, the plants we planted, and the things we noticed that we thought were interesting and important.

The other way to do this, is with THIS story map. That way all the people who can't come to the exhibit can learn about the Water We Drink too.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Drink Week Day 4

Part of GIS Story Map showing the Metropolitan Waste Water Treatment Plant
We poured our water out across from it's effluent channel.
We gathered around the GIS Display to review the map of our journey - how the water traveled from the Mississippi River to our drinking fountain, and back to the Mississippi River.  We remembered how Rena had told us about how the rain garden at River Park helps the river.

Today, we get to help the river too. There is a place on campus called Sarita Wetland, that helps clean the water before it goes to the Mississippi River. That means all the people downstream of us will have better drinking water and so will the fish and eagles.

We planted four kinds of long-rooted native plants that will help water soak into the earth. They will also help pollinators like bees, and other animals, and of course, they are beautiful.
Back at camp, we made art maps to reflect on our journey, and selected two favorite photos we took that will be in the exhibit Friday at 4:30 and also on the story map on this web page.
Olivia and Riya making memory maps

Riya's memory map of activities at River Park
and the St. Paul water intake.

John selecting and captioning his favorite of his photographs
with Jess, on the camp team.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Drink Week Day 3

The campers leaving the water tower (Photo by Eli G. and Benjamin K.)
We started at the Water Tower (Photo by John I.)
We got to go inside the water tower (Photo by Olivia P.)
We hopped onto the Ferry Boat that took us on the Mississippi (Photo by Nat S. and Caroline W.)
We passed by a bridge that moves for boats and trains (Photo by Aija, O.)

Day 3 of Drink week picked up where Day 2 left off. After the drinking water leaves the St. Paul Regional Water Services Treatment plant it goes out to St. Paul and other cities, like Falcon Heights (where camp is). Some of it arrives at campus, goes through the water meter, and gets pressure added with booster pumps. After the booster pumps, we walked along the pipes to the water tower and got to go inside! Cathy Abene, Principal Civil Engineer for the U of Minnesota and Madeline Knox,  explained how the water tower works and showed us the list of names of people who have climbed to the top. The water tower adds more pressure and some reserve capacity. Then we followed pipes to our camp building where the water arrives at our camp drinking fountain. What a long journey!

But that wasn't the end. After a person takes a sip from the drinking fountain, the rest of the sip goes down the drain and combines with toilet water and sink water and goes into the "sanitary sewer." Shawn, who also works for the University, lifted the man hole cover so we could peek in the sanitary sewer and see the yuck.

Then we took the bus to ride on a river boat and noticed all the life - plants, animals, and people, that depend on clean water in the Mississippi River. We even saw 3 eagles perched on branches overlooking the river.

Finally, we went further downstream to Kaposia Landing which is right across the river, from the effluent channel of the Metropolitan Waste Water Treatment Plant. This is where St. Paul and Minneapolis return their borrowed river water to the Mississippi - after they treat the sewage to be as clean as the river. At Kaposia Landing, we poured our river bottles back into the Mississippi too.

Campers and Staff at Kaposia Landing

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Drink Week Day 2

We began our journey to follow drinking water by traveling upstream to the Mississippi River at River Park where we met Rena Weiss, from Wenck who does watershed education about the rain garden at River Park along the Mississippi River. You can see our pictures of River Park in our story map HERE.

In the water bottles we decorated, we collected water from the Mississippi River to join us on our journey.

We met Jodi Wallin and Alex Rossow of St. Paul Regional Water Services who showed us the Intake building across the river and described how they collect the river water there to go into the lakes and then the water treatment plant.

After the intake building, we visited Sucker Lake. We learned that the water goes through underground pipes and to a chain of lakes: Charles, Pleasant, Sucker, and Vadnais. After lunch, Nick Voss, from the Vadnais Lakes Area Water Management Organization (VLAWMO) told us about protecting the water and showed us some of the animals that live in the water and how we can tell how clean the water is by how many of them we find.

Finally we went to the St. Paul Regional Water Services Water Treatment Plant for a tour from Jodi and Jeremy.

Clarifier room at the Water Treatment Plant

Monday, June 25, 2018

Drink Week Day 1

Our camp starts at the drinking fountain of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota in the Learning and Environmental Sciences (LES) Building.

Madeline, one of the teachers, recited a poem and we all got water bottles for us to decorate and use as a symbol of the water flowing through the fountain.

River to River

What do you think
when you take a drink
out of the fountain
or out of the sink?
Where does it come from?
Where does it go?
River to river,  
follow the flow.

-Jonee Kulman Brigham

Preparing for the Journey by making our journals and inserting our journey maps.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Rain Week Day 5

On Day 5, we made art maps, tested water quality, and got our necklaces with a bit of the Mississippi River in them. At 4:30 there was an art-science exhibit for parents, and guests where we could show them our story map. You can see it here.

Teacher, Madeline hands out our Mississippi River Necklaces.

Water from our Rain Can is poured into the storm drain
as we recite our poem one last time.
Goodbye Rain!

If you look closely you can see the tear. It includes water especially.
Bye Bye water adventures. Keep the water clean! Bye Bye!

-Camper, Sadie

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Rain Week Day 4

Campers planting flowers in Sarita Wetland
Campers gathered together to reflect on what they'd seen, liked, and learned from the journey to the Mississippi River yesterday. Then we looked at the GIS Story map for our camp called, "The Story of Rain: 2018." We looked at the places we'd been, and saw lots of opportunities for campers to make the story map more interesting with their photographs and observations which will be added on Friday. 

We learned about how Sarita Wetland helps protect water, with its native flowers and grasses, and campers found out that they get to help Sarita help the river by adding more plants. So we headed along the path of rain from our storm drain to Sarita Wetland and took turns planting and photographing the beautiful landscape. After that, campers returned to our "Studio/Lab" to work in their journals and make an art map about Sarita.

Here are the four types of plants we planted today: 
  • Smooth Aster
  • Lavender Hyssop
  • Stiff Goldenrod
  • Nodding Pink Onion

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rain Week Day 3

Photo of Outfall, by camper, Melody L.

Photo looking out from outfall by camper, Audrey S.
Day three of Rain Week started on the Mississippi River, where the campers were able to see the St. Anthony Outfall at Meeker Island Park. An outfall is a point where the pipes from storm drains meet the river. The campers learned about how more than trash can be pollution. For example, when leaves, grass, and dog poop go down the storm drain and all end up at the river, they can become pollution too and so it is important to keep them out of the drains and off of land where they can wash down the drains. Standing on the dirt path near the bottom of the stairs, campers heard the water flowing into the river from the outfall. We saw several fish jump as we collected river water by lowering a bucket on a string so we could observe the water, smell it, and measure its temperature. Finally, campers recited the Follow the Rain poem as teacher-Madeline poured the rain can over the outfall. Goodbye Rain!

At lunch, campers drew their memories of collecting water at the outfall
Then we bused to Crosby Farm Park for lunch and working in our journals. Abby, a park ranger from the National Park Service, educated us about the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area - one of five National Parks in Minnesota. Afterwards, Abby walked us through the flood plain forest with its huge Cottonwood trees, on our way to the Mississippi River, where we played by the water, collected more water for testing, and painted in our journals with water colors using the Mississippi River for the water!
Forest Detail Photo by camper, John W.

River view at Crosby Farm Park by camper, Keegan H.

Rain Week Day 2

Today campers went on a Rain Lands Walking Tour on St. Paul Campus to literally see the different kinds of land use where "rain lands." The weather was on theme, and campers and staff got pretty soggy by the end of the morning. First, they traveled across the field to the Native American Medicine Garden, where campers saw plants native to Minnesota and learned the importance of being respectful of plants, and paying attention to what plants could teach us. Next, they visited the Mycology Club Site to find mushrooms and the damp logs they grow on in the forest. Moving onto the Department of Horticulture's Display and Trial Gardens, campers explored the pollinator garden display to search for bees, learned some important things for a pollinator garden to include, and pretended to be a bee, as they closely studied a flower they were attracted to. 
Photo by camper Sadie F.
After getting out of the rain and refueling with lunch, the campers made their way to the Buford Avenue storm drain where they talked about the many pipes underground that carry storm water, making note of storm sewers along the way. Following the pipes above ground, we found ourselves at the Sarita Wetlands, where the water is let out. Even though the water did not look the cleanest, it was still fascinating to see the journey water takes from cloud to wetland. Then we went to the far end of Sarita to see where the water goes if it overflows at Sarita...We can’t wait until tomorrow when we visit downstream!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Rain Week Day 1

Rain week has begun! Our campers started their week off preparing for the water journey ahead. We asked our eager campers, How do we prepare for a journey? We met our team, learned about our tools, and mapped out where we’ll go! We decorated notebooks and glued in our map so we know where we are going!

Ella S. captured this picture of them getting the rain water
Sadie F. got a picture of them taking a picture of the drain!
Rishi K got a selfie into his photo collection
Water Journals and cameras were assigned to each student, enabling them to properly document their observations along the way. Teacher Madeline guided campers through some water testing with week old rainwater captured in jars outside the Learning and Environmental Sciences Building on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. We asked Where along our journey can we sample water? and How do we think the water will change through its journey?

After lots of selfies and meeting new friends, to start the week long water journey, campers gathered around a storm drain along Buford Avenue to pour water through the grates, not yet knowing where it will flow next.

Campers recited a poem written by Jonee Kulman Brigham that gave them an idea of what to expect in the coming week on their water journey:
Follow the Rain
When the rain falls from the sky
It waters plants and ponds nearby
But on roof and streets, the rain
Runs off and travels down the drain
What happens next? Where does it go?
We’ll follow rain to find it’s flow.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Spots still available for summer 2018!

Mississippi River Water Journey Camps will be held for their third year this June, Register Soon!

Update: 5/11

Water Journey: Rain
Where does the rain go? Get ready to explore as you follow water's path from the sky to the land and down the storm drain, through a wetland, and all the way to the Mississippi River! Get your hands dirty planning to protect water at a wetland. All week you'll take photos and make art about your discoveries on your field trips, and share your work in an online gallery using story maps! No prior experience or equipment is needed.

Openings in younger age group as of 5/11-confirm at registration site:
June 18-22, Ages 6-8,   Fee $299
June 18-22, Ages 9-11, Fee $299 CLOSED 

Water Journey: Drink
Where does water in our drinking fountain come from? Where does it go? Get ready for a grand adventure as you follow water in and out of pipes, and through treatment plants all the way to the Mississippi River! Get your hands dirty planting to protect water at a wetland. All week you'll take photos and make art about your discoveries on your field trips, and share your work in an online gallery using story maps! No prior experience or equipment is needed.

Openings in older age group as of 5/11-confirm at registration site:
June 25-29, Ages 6-8,   Fee $299 WAIT LIST
June 25-29, Ages 9-11, Fee $299
Link to Registration Site: