Episode 4: Connected by Water (Part 1 of 2)
Prairie Prophets

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When a raindrop falls in North Missouri, it begins a long journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, the water gathers inputs and pollutants. Most of which is the result of runoff and erosion from agricultural fields. Alarming levels of nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, entering rivers and streams in the Midwest, ultimately reach the Gulf where they contribute to one of the largest hypoxic dead zones in the world.

In this episode of Prairie Prophets, we explore the Mississippi river watershed from the Grand River near Brunswick, MO to the confluence of Mississippi River and Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois. Along the way, we make several stops in cities and towns reliant on the watershed. We learn about agriculture practices, economic drivers, and environmental concerns.

Brandon interviews Steve Schnarr, Executive Director of Missouri River Relief, to learn how his non-profit organization is dedicated to engaging individuals and communities along the Missouri River to promote the exploration, enjoyment, restoration, and care of the Missouri river. He meets with a team of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Health Specialists who discuss soil erosion, riparian buffers, and CRP programs. They also explain some of the pushback and challenges they face while working with the farming community. Finally, Brandon sits down with Monica Smith, Director of the Cairo Public Library (Cairo, IL), to talk about the economic hardships of her once bustling river town.

In the second episode of this two-part series, we’ll continue our journey along the Mississippi River to its terminus in Venice, Louisiana. We go deeper into what life along this river means to people and look closer at the science of what we in the Midwest are sending downstream to our southern neighbors.

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Contributors

Brandon Butler

Director of Communications, Roeslein Alternative Energy
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