Friends of the River Foundation

Generational Legacy

For many in Salina, the past year could be called the Year of the River, and Greater Salina Community Foundation support was there along the way to help Friends of the River campaign for the restoration of the Smoky Hill River inside the city limit.

Jane Anderson, executive director of Friends of the River Foundation, said, “Our goal is to put the river back in the public’s eye. One goal is to restore water flow to the Smoky Hill River and this will be achieved in five years through the sales tax initiative that passed this year. The river is for everyone and the election proved it.”

As part of the campaign for a sales tax increase to support Salina’s infrastructure, Friends of the River invited Jeff Shoemaker, director of a foundation that accomplished renewal of the Platte River through Denver, to speak to a variety of constituents. Anderson notes that on a night when the Kansas City Royals were in the playoffs and Iron Avenue was under construction, more than 200 people came to Salina Community Theatre to hear Shoemaker’s ideas about how revitalizing Salina’s river could add economic and social benefits. His visit was supported in part by The Dane G. Hansen Community Grant Fund administered through GSCF.

The Foundation’s support did not stop with informing and inspiring the community, however. The L.P. “Pat” Mullen Fund at the Community Foundation will help Friends of the River accomplish an educational project aimed at students over the next three years. Kansas Wesleyan University, Southeast of Saline and Sacred Heart high schools will participate in developing experiments that take place on the Smoky Hill River. College science students will mentor high school students and experimental findings will be presented publicly. College students supported by Kansas Wesleyan’s science faculty will have the opportunity to present their work at academic conferences — all in an effort to make science local and living for all. This project is thanks to Pat Mullen, a self-taught engineer and inventor, who left his estate to establish granting to support youth education in science, technology and invention, as well as arts and humanities.

In addition to grant funding from the Foundation, Friends of the River has an organization fund to provide long-term support for future operations. According to Anderson, “This is important because just keeping the doors open is hard to get donors excited about. An endowment is the beginning of long-term planning for a healthy organization. It allows the next generation to keep the river accessible and open. Endowment helps us view the River Foundation as a generational legacy; it allows the Friends of the River Foundation to be a voice for human interaction with nature as we work to restore the river’s integral place in the life of Salina.”

To learn more about the great work of our donors and grantees, click here.