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.
National Loon Center coming to Crosslake, Minnesota
Community leaders collaborated with UMN graduate students to co-create the National Loon Center curriculum framework and the exhibit space design. The interactive, educational and recreational center in Crosslake, Minnesota will be a national destination for nature-lovers and conservationists.
Innovations in outdoor classroom design
Building on last year’s work developing the Megwayaak Indigenous education and outdoor learning classroom activities, the Leech Lake Early Childhood and UMN project team collaborated to co-create the outdoor classroom designs. The heart of the Megwayaak Project is a 3-acre wooded area located directly behind the Early Childhood Center, providing an invaluable resource for community children, families and staff.
Learning where our food comes from
A proposed Heritage Farm in Pine River will provide hands-on agricultural, ecological and cultural education for Greater Minnesota. The experiential education model addresses the ever-increasing public interest in where food comes from, soil health, sustainable and organic agriculture, and learning from the wisdom in Minnesota's agricultural and cultural histories. Project partners conducted a regional market analysis, case studies and cost and revenue analysis to help guide next steps.
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe works for food sovereignty and sharing cultural practices
The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Agricultural Education and Therapeutic Farm project team received a UMN Institute on the Environment Impact Goal grant to help develop the community engagement and concept design. The ranch goals include promoting food sovereignty, providing therapeutic and rehabilitation services, sharing Ojibwe cultural practices, and educating youth.
A recent multilingual project led by Cooperativa Agua Gorda and supported by Central RSDP is connecting the immigrant-owned, organic produce farm in Long Prairie to new markets and University of Minnesota resources. This article has also been translated into Spanish- Mercados crecientes para la Cooperativa Agua Gorda.
How can community members across Greater Minnesota work collectively to ensure their towns are welcoming to all residents, regardless of their race, ethnicity, language or other characteristics? The new Creating a Welcoming Community toolkit shares ways to meaningfully and inclusively engage with immigrants, refugees, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color, so that all feel welcome.
Housing is a basic need that all Minnesotans share and is essential to creating resilient communities. Meeting that need, however, can be a complex challenge. A new community-university project seeks to design resilient and affordable housing solutions that embrace Minnesota’s ecological, economic and cultural diversity.
For more updates about projects happening around the state, Check out RSDP Happenings.
- Kurt Beckstrom, email@example.com - Milaca
- Melissa Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org - Pequot Lakes
- Chet Bodin, email@example.com - Brainerd
- Vicki Chepulis, firstname.lastname@example.org - Wadena
- Kate Droske, email@example.com - Sauk Centre
- Alison Holland, firstname.lastname@example.org - St. Paul
- Daniel Josephson, email@example.com - Detroit Lakes
- 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