Footprint Magazine is a sustainable living magazine published by Sustain Mizzou at the University of Missouri. Sustain Mizzou, an MU student environmental group, has joined with Missouri River Relief to become the newly formed Stream Team #1875.
I enjoyed being interviewed by Elizabeth. She is a great journalist with a passion towards environmental stewardship.
Columbia teacher will kayak the Missouri River. The whole river. By herself.
One of the first things Janet Moreland did when she moved back to Missouri almost twenty years ago was buy a canoe. A native to California, Moreland had enjoyed playing in water bodies since her childhood in Sacramento. “The American River was my playground,” says Moreland. From floating the American River to windsurfing in the San Francisco Bay as an adult, rarely has Moreland wandered far from waterways.
A culmination of a lifelong pastime, at age 56, Moreland will embark on a solo journey from the headwaters of the Missouri River to the confluence with the Mississippi river – solo, via kayak.
Just around the corner
Moreland explored the rivers of southern Missouri for a few years in the mid-‘90s then moved to Columbia, eventually moving not far from Cooper’s Landing on the Missouri River. She spent her first few years adjusting to the community; five years passed before she discovered the Missouri River was no more than ten minutes away. With that revelation, Moreland went to the Alpine Shop and bought two kayaks in 2001. That purchase signified to her that Columbia was home.
With the kayaks purchased, Moreland confided to the salesperson their intended use on the Missouri River. She remembers the salesperson remarking that the sale would not have happened with that knowledge. Moreland, who once lived in Yosemite, busts the myth that the Missouri River is dangerous with a laugh. “It’s my lazy river,” she says.
The Big Muddy does not scare her. She remembers once losing a paddle during a kayak race, and without pause she backpedaled with her hands to retrieve the floating paddle. “I like a challenge,” Moreland says. If she completes this spring’s trip down the Missouri, Moreland will be the first woman to paddle the Missouri River solo.
Missouri River Relief is hosting a benefit concert for Janet tonight at Mojo’s.
Motivated by future generations
This feat is not just self-serving for Moreland. A recent graduate of University of Missouri’s School of Education, she plans to use her trip as a teaching tool to her future students. She hopes to teach science and/or social studies at a local middle school and incorporate lesson plans on the Missouri River into her curriculum. Just before our interview, Moreland had attended a job fair. She hopes to land a teaching position before she leaves so that she can tailor lesson plans to certain subjects and ages of her future students.
The history of Native American habitation along the river, French exploration of North America, early pioneer hunting and trapping, Lewis and Clark’s voyage, the steamboat era and the Army Corps of Engineers dredging and damming of the river will all be incorporated into Moreland’s teaching. “There is so much untold history to teach our children,” Moreland says, especially referring to Native American history, for which she has a soft spot. In July she will stop at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for a 2-day education event.
Moreland plans two books to interpret her trip: one full of lesson plans and the other a memoir. She will closely study the wildlife at the source area of the Missouri River, where there are several lakes – the largest 230 miles long, and take weather samples.
Above all, Moreland will focus on teaching about stewardship of the Missouri River through lessons on watershed management and water quality. She actively promotes the nonprofit Missouri River Relief through her blog and will continue to do so on her journey. “There’s some sustainability issues that need to be addressed,” Moreland says. She does not want the Missouri to one day have the same fate as the Colorado River, which no longer flows into the ocean because of human interference.
If she does not get a teaching position for the fall, Moreland entertains the idea of continuing her paddle to the Gulf of Mexico, via the Mississippi River. She is not scared of running out of steam; endurance is not an issue for her. Among the many provisions on Moreland’s list, she hopes to construct a terrarium that will hold sprouts of leafy greens so that she can pluck fresh lettuce and spinach at her heart’s desire. Sponsors such as the Alpine Shop and Walt’s Bike Shop have given her gear. She will have a solar charger for her laptop and cell phone, and her kayak already made the trip down the Big Muddy once before. It is the same kayak that Australian man Bob Bellingham took down the Missouri River last summer.
Community support is vital to Janet’s successful voyage. See below for online donations and a benefit concert.
Music and fundraiser tonight
The Riverbillies are coming to town and you’re invited!!! Please join us for a rockin’ send off and fundraiser for our inspiring, adventure-seeking friend Janet Moreland, as she prepares to embark on a 2600-mile kayaking expedition down the Missouri River as the first WOMAN to ever paddle the entire length of the river solo, from “source to sea”!
A “Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit” will be held at Mojo’s on Wednesday, March 27th from 5-9 pm. A $10 donation is requested at the door, and there will be a raffle full of awesome prizes, not to mention a Charlie Brown Boogie Down dance-off competition. Local blues musicians John D’Agostino, Scott McCullough, Dennis Ternamian, Dave Bandy, Steve Andsager and the power Debbie D among others will come together to celebrate and raise awareness about Janet’s trip of a lifetime.
One Woman, One River, 2600 Miles
Date: Wednesday, March 27th
Time: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Mojos, 1013 Park Ave. Columbia, MO 65201
Donation: $10 at the door.
Event Page: http://www.facebook.com/events/427915293960865/
Donate Online: http://www.gofundme.com/loveyourbigmuddy