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Connecting People to Water: RCWD and FMR’s “On the Water” Paddling Day

Rice Creek Watershed District (RCWD) and the Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) recently joined forces to increase watershed education and engagement through hands-on experiences by paddling in the Chain of Lakes area in Rice Creek Watershed District this summer!

ESI and Staff paddling on Lake Peltier

On June 24, 2024, FMR’s Environmental Stewardship Institute (ESI) participants completed an educational paddling event on George Watch Lake in the Chain of Lakes area. The event included a guided tour led by our Lake and Stream Manager, Matt Kocian, who shared insights on watershed management and water quality as the group traveled through Peltier Lake/Rice Creek/George Watch Lake, stopping at Wargo Nature Center for additional learning.

Anoka County Parks graciously supplied equipment such as kayaks and canoes and had staff on the tour to ensure safety and help students navigate the waters.

Matt Kocian, RCWD Staff, interviewed for video

To document this experience and create video resources for future use, we funded a professional videographer. The resulting video will be incorporated into FMR’s online K-12 curriculum, improving the Water Knowledge Network and providing an engaging learning tool for both students and the broader public. Stay tuned for the video, which will be coming out soon!

This event marked the beginning of a new partnership between us and FMR, hoping to expand on-water programming and create more hands on opportunities for our communities..

Connecting people to their water and watershed is important for promoting watershed stewardship and advocacy. Hands-on experiences like paddling the river allow participants to witness firsthand the importance of clean water and healthy lake ecosystems.

RCWD Staff Ali Chalberg and Matt Kocian

This direct engagement helps people understand the interconnectedness of us and our natural environment, encouraging a sense of responsibility to protect and improve our water resources. By creating a connection to the watershed, everyone can become more informed and active in water conservation efforts, leading to healthier water for all of us!

To learn more about FMR’s Environmental Stewardship Institute and this “on the water” programming, visit Friends of the Mississippi River.

Thank you to all the partners for making this happen! We look forward to another paddling day soon.

ESI Group, FMR, Anoka County Parks staff, and RCWD staff


To learn more, please contact:

Kendra Sommerfeld

Communications & Outreach Manager