River Talks speaker series

River Talks is an annual free, informal speaker series about the St. Louis River Estuary in Duluth-Superior and a cooperative project between Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Learn about the St. Louis River! Scientists, businesses, and agency staff who work and depend on the St. Louis River Estuary will share their thoughts and information about river projects each month during the academic year. But these presentations won’t be a one-way street. You’ll get to ask questions and share your thoughts, too.

Do you have questions, or would you like to get on the series email list? Contact series organizer, Marie Zhuikov with Wisconsin Sea Grant: mzhuikov@aqua.wisc.edu.

Miss a talk? You can read a summary from our Sea Grant blog by clicking on the talk title links.

2022-2023 season talks:

October 12, 2022 – “Wild Stories of Wildlife on the St. Louis River,” 7 p.m., presentation by Martha Minchak, former assistant area wildlife manager, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in-person at the Lake Superior Estuarium (3 Marina Dr., Superior, Wisconsin) and also by Zoom.

November 9 – “Tell us What you Love About the River,” 7 p.m., in-person presentation by Molly Wick, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a youth panel about cultural ecosystem services, in-person at the Lake Superior Estuarium (3 Marina Dr., Superior, Wisconsin).

December – no talk in December

January 11, 2023 – “Nimitanji’idimin Giiwiitashkodeng Project” (using fire to heal the land on Wisconsin Point), 7 p.m., presentation by Evan Larson, University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Melonee Montano, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, in-person at the Lake Superior Estuarium (3 Marina Dr., Superior, Wisconsin) and also by Zoom.

February 8 – “We’ve got Fleas! Invaders and Non-local Beings in Water and Land,” Zach Stewart with Douglas County, and Kelsey Taylor with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, by Zoom only.

March 8 – “History of the Upper Estuary and Fond du Lac Neighborhood,” speaker to be announced. This talk will be part of the St. Louis River Summit and will be held outdoors around a fire, in-person.

April 12 – “Art and Science,” Adam Swanson, local environmental science painter and muralist, in-person at the Lake Superior Estuarium (3 Marina Dr., Superior, Wisconsin) and also by Zoom.

May 10 – “How and Where to Find Birds in the St. Louis River Estuary,” Steve Kolbe, UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute, in-person at the Lake Superior Estuarium (3 Marina Dr., Superior, Wisconsin) and also by Zoom. This talk will be held at 6 p.m. –  earlier than usual so that we have enough daylight to find birds outdoors.

2021-2022 season talks:

October 13, 2021Environmental improvements designed to control stormwater runoff and limit pollution on Barker’s Island in Superior. At 5 p.m., Michael Krick with the City of Superior and Theresa Qualls, Clean Marina coordinator, spoke in the Lake Superior Estuarium conference room, 3 Marina Dr., Barker’s Island. This was an in-person event, and was not recorded or live-streamed.

November 10 — “Revealing the Invisible: Experiencing and Interpreting the St. Louis River along Waabizheshikana (The Marten Trail),” 7 p.m., virtual presentation via Zoom by Sam Geer, Urban Ecosystems, Inc.

December — No talk in December

January 12, 2022 — “Stories of Spirit Island,” 7 p.m., presentation by Jeff Savage, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, in-person at the Lake Superior Estuarium (3 Marina Dr., Superior, Wisconsin) and also by Zoom.

February 9 — “Update on the Spirit Lake Great Lakes Legacy Act Project,” 7 p.m., virtual presentation via Zoom by Mark Loomis, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

March 8 (note, this is a Tuesday) — “Bawa’iganaakoog (Wild Rice Harvesting Sticks),” 6:30-8 p.m. Construct wild rice knocking sticks with Marne Kaeske, cultural preservation specialist for the 1854 Treaty Authority. Join us and get prepared to hit the rice bed during Manoomike-giizis (the wild ricing moon). All materials and instruction included. This River Talk will be in person at the University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjacket Union as part of the St. Louis River Summit. Registration in advance for this River Talk is required and capacity is limited to 15. Face coverings are required inside the building.

April 13 — “Black Ash and Birds: Conserving Critical Habitat in the St. Louis River Estuary,” 7 p.m. virtual presentation via Zoom by Alexis Grinde, Natural Resources Research Institute, and Cole Wilson, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

May 11 — “Sea Grant at 50: Looking Back, Moving Forward.” 2022 is Wisconsin Sea Grant’s fiftieth year of funding research projects in the Estuary and the Great Lakes. James Hurley, director, will discuss the program’s past, present and future. This event will be both in-person and via Zoom. The in-person event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Lake Superior Estuarium, 3 Marina Dr., Barker’s Island in Superior. It will end at 9 p.m.

2020-2021 season talks:

October 14, 2020Water Levels: Erosion, Wild Rice and Geese, 7 p.m. Two speakers presented: Brandon Krumwiede, Great Lakes geospatial coordinator with NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, and Hannah Burgstaler, freshwater fellow at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.

November 11 — This talk was held in conjunction with Cafe Scientifique Twin Ports. At 7 p.m., Dustin Haines with the Reserve presented: “Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Clash of Wetlands With lake Levels, Invasives and Humans.”

December — No talk in December

January 13, 2021 — “Coastal Wetlands: Dynamic Ecosystems of Lake Superior,” 7 p.m. Two speakers: Kelly Beaster and Reed Schwarting with the Lake Superior Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

February 10 — Alexis Berke with the Great Lakes Aquarium presented, “A virtual visit: Explore the St. Louis River exhibits and animals at the Great Lakes Aquarium.”

March 3 — “A River of Poems,” 7 p.m. Central Time. This talk, held in conjunction with the St. Louis River Summit, featured 12 poets from around the world and across the country reading their poems about rivers. 

April 14 — “Discovering the Magic of the Estuary: Bringing Tourists to the St. Louis River.” 7 p.m. Nikky Farmakes, Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce and Travel Superior; and Kris Eilers, St. Louis River Alliance.

May 12 — “Ojibwe connection to Wisconsin Point: Past, present and future.” 7 p.m. Thomas Howes, natural resources manager for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, led the field trip. Howes discussed events that brought the Ojibwe to Wisconsin Point, what occurred from that time to the present, how the Ojibwe use the area currently and what the future vision is for Fond du Lac-owned lands on the point.