All posts by Tina Casagrand

8th-generation Missourian. Curious writer. Community volunteer. Hopes to one day see a jackalope, but will settle for an ocelot.

4th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival takes to the screen

2014_MRR_Wild&Scenic 8x14 flierJoin Missouri River Relief (MRR) and The Blue Note when they host the fourth annual Wild and Scenic Traveling Film Festival in Columbia on Sunday, February 9.  It’s an afternoon benefit of inspiring and eye-opening documentaries. Doors open at 1 p.m. and select films will be screened from 2 to 5 p.m., followed by a silent auction and raffle. Local musicians David Dearnley and Sam Shin will be playing before and after the films.

The W&S film fest will feature environmental and adventure films that illustrate the Earth’s beauty, the challenges facing our planet, and the work communities are doing to protect the environment.  This year’s selections focus on the connection between humans and the world we live in.

Trailer, Fighting For the Futaleufú from stephanie haig on Vimeo.

The Film Lineup includes Fighting For the Futaleufu, Dying Green, The Last Ice Merchant, Backyard, Of Souls + Water and a number of creative and inspiring shorts. “Backyard” is one of the most challenging films, focusing on the effects of fracking on the Missouri River watershed. A special treat will be a short film by Romanian MU grad student Roxi Pop about MRR called “Pelican Island Adventure”

“This keeps growing every year,” said Missouri River Relief program manager Steve Schnarr. “People love the opportunity to get together in the winter and spend a few hours being transported to beautiful places while learning about important and powerful environmental issues. This year’s focus on rivers and water is a perfect fit for our work on the Missouri River.”

A lot of the work and ideas for the festival come from the River Relief’s volunteer crew. “These folks love working together, for the community and for the river,” Schnarr said. “By the time February comes around they’re ready to get to work. Everyone has a lot of fun with this.”

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour allows organizations across the country to select award winning films that speak to their region, their audience and their issues. Hosting the Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a natural extension of Missouri River Relief’s work to inspire people to act on behalf of their environment, as their mission has been to connect people to the Missouri River through hands-on river clean-ups and education.

The organization emerged organically in 2001 from a small group of people in mid-Missouri with a love for the Missouri River who simultaneously recognized the need for engaged stewardship and the desire of citizens to take part in watershed solutions.  In just ten years, Missouri River Relief has made a visible & lasting difference in over 20 communities, bringing together more than 16,000 volunteers to haul more than 1 million pounds of trash (676 tons to be exact) from the banks and floodplain of the Missouri River.

OF SOULS + WATER: THE NOMAD from NRS Films on Vimeo.

“Films featured at Wild & Scenic give people a sense of place,” said Tour Manager, Susie Sutphin. “In our busy lives, it’s easy to get disconnected from our role in the global ecosystem.  When we realize that the change we need in this world begins with us we can start making a difference.  Come watch and see!”

The Columbia screening of the festival is supported locally by The Blue Note with a special grant from Patagonia. The festival’s alliance of National Partners helps make the traveling tour possible thanks to Patagonia, Clif Bar, Osprey Packs, Kanteen Klean,, Tom’s of Maine and Sierra Nevada Brewing.

Tickets are $10 and all proceeds will benefit Missouri River Relief!  Students are $6 and kids 8 and under are free.  For more info. about the festival & films go to or simply reserve your tickets by calling the Blue Note at 573-874-1944.

Together we can take action for the health and beauty of our river!


Date and Time:  Sunday, Feb. 9

Doors open at 1 p.m. Films run from 2 to 5 p.m. followed by silent auction. Local musicians David Dearnley and Sam Shin will be performing before and after the films.

Location: The Blue Note, 17 N. 9th Street, Columbia MO

Tickets: $10.  Students are $6 with an ID. Kids 8 and under free.

Tickets can be purchased through the Blue Note’s  box office (573) 874-1944

More information at:

DIY Project: sturdy plastic bag tote

Get a whole bunch of plastic bags (we know you have them), cut ’em down, stack ’em together and do some other stuff [ instructions here ].  And voila!  A plastic bag tote of your very own.

This project is great because it puts to good use something people already have lying around and aren’t likely to recycle. It also answers a need for reusable bags, which (if they’re also made of plastic) only last 2-3 years anyway.

Tour of Columbia for National Geographic GeoBee

Missouri’s 2012 National Geographic Bee champion, Jack Langen, gives a tour of his home town of Columbia for the NatGeo YouTube channel. Double-fisting Sparky’s ice cream? Walking on the MKT? The kid couldn’t be more spot on.

Jack will be competing against the other state champions in Washington, D.C., on May 22-24. The Bee finals hosted by Alex Trebek air Thursday, May 24 at 7:00 p.m. (Central Time) on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD.

Students sell produce to Campus Dining

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Photos by Kat Seal.

Tigers for Community Agriculture, Sustain Mizzou’s gardening group, have sold 324 pounds of lettuce, chard and broccoli to MU Campus Dining Services and the University Club in just one month. The journey from seed to students resulted entirely from student volunteer efforts.

In early February, the students started romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, leek, onion and broccoli seed in the campus green house. Volunteers then transplanted the sprouts into hoop houses at Bradford Research and Extension Center and carpooled there to water it periodically. They used a drip-tape watering system, which waters at the roots and conserves water. There’s also a commercial benefit: “You don’t have water spots on the lettuce so it looks better when you try to sell them,” says Monica Everett, a project volunteer who has been with TCA since its inception in 2010. The group also sold 60 pounds of greens to the University Club, a higher-end dining establishment at the Alumni Center.

Setting up the business plan was surprisingly simple: they asked CDS to buy their produce. “After marching into the kitchen offices of the Student Center (not knowing what we were doing), we brought [sous chef] Jeremy out to the Ford Explorer,” says Kat Seal, project volunteer and former Sustain Mizzou president. “He looked at the lettuce and said, ‘we’d take it all.’”

TCA has other produce coming up for harvest, including peppers, spinach, carrots and tomatoes. They plan to sell it to the aforementioned businesses, as well as Centro Latino. All profit goes back to building the program and its assets.

Big Tree owner in the Big Muddy Speaker Series

The presentation will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 8 at the Les Bourgeois Bistro in Rocheport.

Short-eared owl at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. Photo by Benjamin Zack.

John Sam Williamson’s family has been farming the McBaine bottoms along the Missouri River for six generations. They’ve fought floods, droughts and the changes of the river while taking care of the rich bottomland and growing food for the country.

There’s a lot going on in the McBaine bottoms, including Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, the Columbia Water Treatment Plant and well field and the much revered site of the state record bur oak tree, which Williamson and his family have been taking care of for generations. Williamson is also the president of the McBaine Levee and Drainage District and treasurer of the Boone County Fire Protection District.

John will share some of his family history in the area and bring the story to the present, where changes in the management of the Missouri River mean changes in the ways farmers deal with levees.


  • Take I-70 to the Rocheport, MO, exit (Exit #115). It’s the first exit east of the Missouri River.
  • Head north toward Rocheport.
  • After about a mile, turn left at the sign for Les Bourgeois Bistro. Follow the signs to the Bistro. You will probably need to park in the lot above the Bistro and walk the trail down.
  • The presentations are held in the lower level. You can either enter at the restaurant entrance then go down the stairs to your left past the bar, or you can follow the walk to the right of the restaurant and enter through a glass door into the lower level.
  • 14020 W. Hwy BB, Rocheport, MO (click for Google Map)

For more information, visit Missouri River Relief’s page for the Big Muddy Speaker Series.

Growing Energy: Algae Biofuel for a future climate neutral energy

Check out this crazy awesome video made by Oberlin College student Angus R. Chen. As he illustrates, there’s “algae, algae, algae everywhere!” Why not use it to grow energy?*

*Well, ok, there are a few catches. Watch the video to find out more!

From the Youtube page:

What are biofuels and where do they come from? This video presents algae biodiesel as a possible future source of renewable carbon neutral energy.

If you like, please hit the happy thumb!

Special thanks to the Oberlin College Biology Department and the Bonner Center for Service and Learning

Also thanks to some of the pioneers for this type of video format, people like Jorge Cham and Henry Reich over at MinutePhysics who do this kind of thing far better than me.

A couple of things I didn’t mention: the reason why biofuels are considered carbon neutral is because even though they release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere when burned, they sequester it as biomass while they’re growing. So they’re not actually adding to the sum of atmospheric carbon – it all is supposed to come out close to zero.

Environmental Leadership Office: new name, same mission

New logo? check. Web address changed? Check. It’s official: the Office for Student Sustainability in the Center for Student Involvement changed its name to the Environmental Leadership Office. “There was a lot of confusion about who we were, so we created a more distinct identity and brand,” says Ben Datema, ELO coordinator. The office currently employs one graduate assistant, four undergrads, and coordinates student sustainability services such as the Bike Resource Center, Sustainability Peer Resource Outreach, the Mizzou Food Coalition, advises numerous campus environmental groups, and facilitates about 50 service learning students.

Inciting local businesses to change: Carrot Mob at Shakespeare’s

In a boycott, everyone loses. In a Carrot Mob, everyone WINS! That’s the basic premise of today’s Carrot Mob at Shakespeare’s, part of Sustain Mizzou’s Sustainability Week.

Sustain Mizzou is challenging YOU to join the Carrot Mob campaign TODAY.

Print this flier, take it to Shake's, and 15% of their sales will go back into energy efficiency updates. Since commercial buildings use a significant amount of total U.S. energy, this is a small step toward a HUGE collective impact.

It’s a party, not a protest! On April 26th join us at the yummiest event of MU’s Sustainability Week to chow down and save the planet, all in one bite (or gulp). Here’s the deal: you buy pizza or beer, then Shakespeare’s will take 15% of the money from your purchase and re-invest it in an energy audit and energy efficiency retrofits at the store. Here’s the catch: for your money to count you’ll need a super-secret code from Sustain Mizzou. You’ll be able to find us at Earth Day, on Lowry Mall during Sustainability Week (April 23-27), on Facebook, and prancing around Columbia in carrot costumes.

Traditionally mobs have formed to protest businesses with bad practices, but this Carrotmob campaign will be the opposite of a boycott: we’ll party at Shake’s to bring more customers to a local company with good practices!

So grab some friends, track us down, and join the Carrotmob! You’ll have never felt so good about stuffing your face.

Impress your friends with Ichthyology!

In honor of an Ichthyology exam I probably failed today, I thought I’d share what such an exam entails:

30-40 dead fish, which our TA must sprinkle with alcohol every half-hour to keep them “fresh.” During the test, we hop from one seat to the next, identifying each specimen by its Latin name. It involves counting scales and recalling which minnow has a dorsal fin in front of its pelvic fin. Sometimes this process is spiced up by a question such as, “what does this fish eat?” Thrilling.

Ok, so really this part is tedious. But the process of learning about fish diversity, especially in our own backyards, is really fun! I have a couple of new favorite fish, and I can impress all my friends at parties by explaining fin functions at parties. And now, with this personal gallery of 59 pictures of preserved fish specimens, you can, too! But really, if you’re interested, check out The Fishes of Missouri by William L Pflieger. The book is no longer in print, but the University Bookstore custom prints them for the spring class. Happy fishing!

Photos all taken from Ichthyology lab specimens at the University of Missouri.

Edible Columbia Tour on May 6

Fresh romaine lettuce. Photo by Kat Seal.

The Center for Sustainable Living will take a caravan tour of the urban gardens of Columbia to learn about edible landscapes, urban farming, herb gardening, rain gardens, raised beds and much more! The tour will run from 2 to 5 p.m. The final stop of the tour is Comedor Popular, the new eatery opened by Centro Latino, where we will feast on a local, organic, vegan meal.

Tickets are available at the Peace Nook, 804C E. Broadway. Price includes dinner after the tour.

  • $10-20 donation per ticket
  • $7.50 for students/low income
  • $5 for children 6-12 (kids under 6 are free!)

Advanced ticket required. Limited seating available!

Brought to you by Peaceworks Center for Sustainable Living with support from Centro Latino, Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, Community Garden Coalition, Rubicon Farm, Saint Francis Catholic Worker Community and Terra Nova Community.  Please call 573-875-0539 for more info.