The University of Minnesota Extension Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (Central RSDP) fosters community sustainability through citizen-driven University partnerships and sustainable development projects in agriculture, resilient communities, natural resources and clean energy.
The Central RSDP is comprised largely of the Upper Mississippi River Basin and serves citizens in the area of north central Minnesota including Becker, Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd and Wadena counties. The Central RSDP service region also shares geography with these sovereign Native nations: Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and White Earth Nation.
Since its establishment, the Central RSDP has supported more than 120 projects with an investment of over $2 million. An additional $3 million in funding from other sources, volunteer and in-kind contributions has supported these project efforts for a total investment of nearly $5 million.
Leech Lake Early Childhood worked with UM graduate students supported by the Central RSDP to study the Benefits of Nature-Based Learning and Play for Young Children's Health, Development and Well-being. Continuing to work with the Central RSDP and a College of Design graduate research assistant, the team is now designing the Megwaayak outdoor classroom.
Serving low-income families and residents of color in Southeast St. Cloud for many years, Promise Neighborhood (PN) is addressing the increasingly diverse cultural backgrounds and varying socioeconomic status among residents in their study of The Community-led Program's Role in Confronting Community Challenges. Supported in-part by the Central RSDP, PN leaders and community members partnered with a UM graduate student to conduct community-based participatory research to explore the changing demands in the community and to support the organization to realize better outcomes.
Consumer interest in experiencing closer connections to their food is contributing to a growth in agritourism offerings in Minnesota. Events like the Central RSDP-supported Salsa Fest provide opportunities to connect with growers and makers of value-added products such as salsa.
People protect what they know and love. It’s a concept that community members in the Crosslake area have rallied around in developing the National Loon Center & Freshwater Institute. Working alongside Center leaders, a graduate student researcher supported by the Central RSDP is co-creating the Center's educational curriculum and programming framework.
The UM Center for Sustainable Building Research, the RSDP, and Grampa G’s Farm in Pillager are studying the viability of passive solar Deep Winter Greenhouse season extension technology in the Central region. The statewide initiative includes four other prototypes working in partnership with each of the RSDP regions across Greater Minnesota.
Supported in part by Central RSDP and Central CERT, Solar for Humanity explores how to expand solar energy arrays on Habitat for Humanity homes to reduce homeownership costs, February 2019.
Central RSDP supported community-based research on simple, low-cost ways of protecting food growing near deer habitats. Learn about options for protecting your plants or gardens.
Learn more about projects supported by Central RSDP in our storymap.
You might be interested in these new and upcoming reports and happenings from the Central RSDP:
- Central RSDP has undertaken an intentional effort to grow the diversity and inclusivity of the board and community partners which has resulted in projects with Somali, Latino and tribal communities, including projects undertaken in a bilingual context.
- Students across the region have six new solar arrays, helping to power Pine River-Backus and Pequot Lakes school districts and Central Lakes College. Totaling 1.5 MW, the landmark public-private project was led by New Energy Equity, Region Five Development Commission and Rural Renewable Energy Alliance. UM students supported by the CRSDP partnered with the project leaders to develop a case study documenting best practices, lessons learned and replicability for this groundbreaking solar installation.
- The Central RSDP and project partners are hiring! Interested UM graduate students are encouraged to view the Spring 2020 research assistantships on the UM Student Job Board. During spring semester, the student researchers will work in concert with the following community-led initiatives: Cooperativa Agua Gorda Expanding Local Food Access, National Loon Center Graphic Design, and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Agricultural Ranch Planning.
Project ideas are submitted to one or more of RSDP’s regional boards based on the location of the project. These project ideas are reviewed based on the following shared criteria. Central RSDP encourages idea submissions by March 1 for the following fiscal year period of July 1 to June 30.
- Community members identify project goals in one or more of the four RSDP sustainable development focus areas.
- The project involves meaningful roles for both local community members and University of Minnesota faculty, staff and/or students.
- The project engages diverse populations and advances new community collaborations.
- The project supports environmental, social and economic sustainability for public purpose or benefit. Project learning or actions will be shared.
- Community partners provide leadership and support throughout the life of the project.
- Priority may be given to projects that leverage funds or other contributions.
- Kurt Beckstrom, firstname.lastname@example.org - Milaca
- Melissa Birch, email@example.com - Pequot Lakes
- Chet Bodin, firstname.lastname@example.org - Brainerd
- Jim Chamberlin, email@example.com - Pine River
- Vicki Chepulis, firstname.lastname@example.org - Wadena
- Alison Holland, email@example.com - St. Paul
- Daniel Josephson, firstname.lastname@example.org - Detroit Lakes
- Michelle Kiley, email@example.com - Holdingford
- Jean Larson, firstname.lastname@example.org - Princeton
- Serdar Mamedov, email@example.com - St. Cloud
- Shirley Nordrum, firstname.lastname@example.org - Cass Lake
- Reva Van Vleet, email@example.com - St. Cloud