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Fundraising Progress to Date
Hi, my name is Hank Kohler!
In 1979, my brother Keith Kohler, friends Rich Wiebke and Dennis Weidemann, and I paddled canoes from central Minnesota to Hudson Bay. It was a 1300-mile adventure that became a story warmly retold in Denny’s book, This Water Goes North.
During the summer of 2021, 42 years after that journey, I started at the same location and canoed south to where the Mississippi River wants to go - down the Atchafalaya River towards the Gulf of Mexico. Like the first trip, this trip was full of fun and adventure; however, unlike the first trip, it stood for much more.
I used the unique nature of this endeavor (the fact that I will have paddled to Hudson Bay and then the Gulf of Mexico from the same location, in two trips separated by more than four decades) to make people aware of and seek donations for clean water projects.
In my years of canoeing and fishing, water has taken me to wonderful places. Places that hold special meaning for me and my family. I’ve realized though, that by just visiting and admiring a location, I’m not doing it any long-term good. Sure, I’ll pick up trash when I see it, but I don’t have the knowledge or resources to make a lasting impact on places I cherish. That said, I know of those who can. I know people and places who right now are working to protect our vital water resources and educating young people so they can do the same for the next generation.
Places like the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. In summer 2021, I partnered with the River Museum to raise funds for their Take CAARE program. Take CAARE stands for "Take Conservation Action through Advocacy Research and Engagement."
They are doing fabulous work with environmental issues from their facility in Dubuque, Iowa. This includes teaching individuals and communities to take responsibility for their local watersheds. They also spearhead several endangered species projects, hoping to save critically threatened fish, amphibians, and freshwater mussels. They are even working with coral reef restoration.
Just think of what good they will do with this increased funding! If you are asking yourself why you should donate to such an effort, let me mention this possibility. What if in the future, things would go sideways from an environmental and clean water standpoint. A generation from now, your child or grandchild may look up at you and ask one very simple question - “Why didn’t somebody do something?”
With this summer’s fundraising adventure, I can say to my grandchildren that I did do something, and with your donation, you can too!
At times, funds are raised to honor the memory of someone who has passed. I’m asking you to donate for the betterment of those yet to be born. This is the ultimate chance to pay it forward. Let us have the foresight to take courageous steps, even if they may bear no fruit in our lifetimes.
I encourage you to learn more about the Take CAARE initiative through the following link, donate, and have a positive impact on the future.
Follow me on Facebook @one4water #one4water
Thank you all for supporting Hank and for supporting the conservation and youth engagement efforts of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.
We have just begun utilizing the support Hank inspired from you all.
The first initiative in which these funds will help to support is a new place based conservation education and river access program targeting teens in the tri-states of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Your support has allowed us to secure two 24’ by 4.5’ cedar strip voyageur style canoes that seat up to 10 persons in each and a custom trailer.
By providing the opportunity for equal and equitable access to the 261 milelong Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge. We will literally take the fruit that Hanks adventure has bared and “paddle it forward” by creating experiences where our young people can find value in their waters, and see firsthand what they can do to continue carrying the torch of stewardship that Hank has passed.
Thank you, Hank!
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Special thanks to Rockfarm for their generous lead gift of $5,000 to kick off Hank's efforts! Donations raised to date will purchase:
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