In a typical year, Mississippi Park Connection’s Youth Education Programs host thousands of students for field trips on the Mississippi River. But of course, 2020 was no typical year. As we focus this month on access to the outdoors, learn how MEF Member Mississippi Park Connection adapted and transformed its educational programs to keep kids connected to the river even in times of pandemic quarantines and lockdowns. 


Mississippi Park Connection strengthens the enduring connection between people and the Mississippi River by enriching the life of the river and the lives of all who experience our national park, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. 

Mississippi Park Connection provides opportunities for people to get to and on the river—and have a national park experience in the Twin Cities. In partnership with the National Park Service, Mississippi Park Connection’s youth education, community engagement, and environmental stewardship programs connect people to their national park. 


Teaching during a pandemic is hard enough. When the pandemic pushed teachers to provide online learning, Mississippi Park Connection’s park education team coordinated with educators to find out what they needed. Teachers asked for engaging park related content that could serve both classroom and independent learning. They quickly assembled three distance learning products for educators. 

Both Big River Journey Online and Living River Online bring Mississippi Park Connection’s live field trips directly to students. Online Classroom Visits bring a national park ranger, trained river educator, or a park partner group to a 3rd-6th grade class of up to 100 students. In each of these experiences, interactive activities and videos reveal the majesty and importance of the Mississippi River through a variety of learning modules and programs. 

Mississippi Park Connection’s new online learning portal offers teachers a convenient place to access this engaging content, and for students to learn about the amazing scientific, cultural, and natural heritage of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. 

In partnership with the National Park Service, their outdoor and online youth education programs provide a fresh, hands-on approach to the ways learning can be integrated with the outdoors, empowering students to become avid learners, and enabling them to begin building a lifelong relationship with the river.  

Through these programs, Mississippi Park Connection’s youth education team connected with more than 9,200 students from March – September 2020 alone –  increasing student achievement and encouraging outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship as life-long pursuits.  

Check these programs out for the junior environmentalists in your life at 

Get Involved: 

  • Picnic For The Park – Tuesday, August 31, 2021, 5:30 PM  7:30 PM @ Harriet Island Regional Park: Enjoy an evening on the river at this benefit for Mississippi Park Connection! Watch wildlife while eating delectable locally sourced treats from signature Twin Cities restaurants. Bid on experiences and items in a silent auction and relax to live music with friends outdoors along the Mississippi River—all while supporting your National Park! 
  • Volunteer – Explore opportunities to help conduct wildlife surveys, restore river habitat, remove invasive species, and other activities to support the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. 

To learn more about how MEF members are working together to improve access to the outdoors across Minnesota, visit the Impact page of our website.