The University of Minnesota Extension Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (Northwest RSDP) contributes to a vibrant future for Northwest Minnesota. We partner with residents and organizations in the northwestern region of our state to support their ideas to improve the sustainability of their local communities. We support projects in the areas of agriculture and food systems, tourism and resilient communities, clean energy and natural resources. All projects we support are connected to University of Minnesota resources.
The Northwest RSDP serves Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Clearwater, Beltrami, Polk, Norman, Mahnomen, Clay and Wilkin counties. Ottertail and Becker counties are also included in food systems projects. Water-related projects include the area that drains to the Red River of the North.
The region’s natural history shows up in a diverse landscape shaped by ice and water and representing all four major biomes in Minnesota. Its cultural history traces the stories of indigenous people, voyageurs and fur traders, immigrants from northern Europe, and later from all parts of the world. The Red River of the North and its tributaries drain just over one fifth of Minnesota. The landscape includes remnants of native boreal forest, aspen parkland and maple, basswood forests, and tall grass prairie. The Red River Valley has a strong agricultural identity and brings to mind images of deep, rich soils and agricultural productivity.
The region is home to 215,000 people. Median age in the region is 41 compared to 37 in Minnesota. Agricultural production, manufacturing and healthcare are important economic sectors. Minnesota Compass tracks and analyzes trends that affect regional quality of life.
The One Vegetable, One Community (OVOC) program is a project to support food skills and gardening efforts across northwestern Minnesota through community garden workshops and a regional marketing campaign for participating communities.
The Northwest RSDP has supported a large portfolio of nature play projects. This work provides opportunities for children and families to spend time in nature for active and imaginative play.
Northwest RSDP worked with the City of Gary and University of Minnesota College of Design to develop a master plan for the Gary Pines forest. Gary residents came together not only to chart their vision for the project, but to contribute their hands-on skills.
In 2011, the Northwest RSDP board partnered with the Center for Sustainable Building Research to select community indicators in each of RSDP’s four focus areas of sustainability. This project identified indicators for the Northwest region as a whole as well as for counties which make up the region.
Learn more about projects supported by Northwest RSDP in our storymap.
You might be interested in these new and upcoming reports and happenings from the Northwest RSDP:
- Northwest RSDP is working with We Are Water MN to bring community members together around water quality issues and plan local We Are Water MN exhibits. This work is supported by a mini-grant from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment.
- RSDP Happenings profiles Northwest RSDP board member Bob Backman
- Poster developed by Northwest RSDP Executive Director Linda Kingery and former Conservation Corps member Rose Clarke explores building capacity in natural resources across RSDP
Project ideas are submitted to one or more of RSDP’s regional boards based on the location of the project. Northwest RSDP work groups review ideas in February, April, June and October each year, and support projects on a fiscal year funding cycle from July 1 to June 30. Project ideas are reviewed based on the following shared criteria:
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.
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