Augsburg News

News Archives - 2003

Students turn the Mississippi River into a classroom

June 2003

As part of "Environmental and River Politics," three students, along with political science professor, Joe Underhill-Cady, used the Mighty Mississippi as a classroom. The group left for the five-day river trip from St. Cloud, making stops along the way.

At stops in Monticello and Anoka, the class met with citizens and political leaders to discuss environmental concerns about the Mississippi River in their communities.

"We learned about the river by being on it," Underhill-Cady said. "This goes beyond the text book. We learned things that can’t be learned by sitting in a classroom."

During their stop in Anoka, the group talked to the mayor and council members. The river issue is so highly debated in that community that this gave the students a first hand opportunity to talk to its leaders. "This was a good mix of politics and environment," Underhill-Cady said.

While on the river students got to see first hand the environmental issues, such as pollution, scattered trash, and trees being taken down so homes can have river views, but sacrificing homes for wildlife to do so.

"It was a political lesson," he said. "The actions taken at one time and place can have an effect on others now and in the future. The river makes this evident."

While this trip focused more on the city issues, the students said they could see and smell the evidence of run-off from farm fields. They also talked to residents who complained about this issue. Underhill-Cady said he hopes in future trips they can meet with farmers to discuss the whole watershed and life in Minnesota farming issue.

"It really hit home," said one student. "People don’t think when they dump stuff on the ground what effect this could have on the river. We could see it."