The University of Minnesota Extension Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (Southwest RSDP) is a community-driven board of directors working with community members across the region to create and sustain healthy ecosystems, strong local economies and vibrant, self-reliant rural towns.
Southwest RSDP launches education and research that help people understand and achieve sustainability across southwestern Minnesota. We support projects that demonstrate public purpose and build partnerships with residents of the region, and link these projects to local assets and University of Minnesota research and educational resources.
The Southwest region includes the counties of Big Stone, Brown, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Douglas, Grant, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Pope, Redwood, Sibley, Renville, Rock, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Watonwan and Yellow Medicine, and shares geography with the Upper Sioux and Lower Sioux sovereign Native nations.
Southwest RSDP has been serving rural Minnesota for two decades. From 1998 through 2011, the West Central RSDP operated as a 12-county region. The geographic region was expanded in 2012 to include all counties in the southwest part of Minnesota, and the program renamed Southwest RSDP. New members of the board of directors were elected to represent the newly included counties.
The Mary J. Page Community-University Partnerships Fund honors former Olivia Mayor, Renville County Commissioner and University of Minnesota Regent Mary Page for her contributions to community-driven sustainability projects across Southwest Minnesota and beyond. Mary helped create, and then served on, the founding board of the West Central RSDP from 1999-2007, and gave statewide leadership to RSDP until 2009.
Stevens County SWCD survey
What do farmers and landowners think about ongoing efforts to conserve soil and water in their region? As Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) focus on their important daily work, they rarely have an opportunity to conduct surveys of program participants. In spring of 2021, Stevens SWCD worked with staff, faculty and students at University of Minnesota - Morris to develop and conduct a survey for just that purpose. The survey represents responses from Stevens County specifically, but the project may offer insights and a survey model for other districts.
New resource: Water storage virtual tour
How can water be retained on the landscape to improve the health of Minnesota’s waterways? Use this resource to learn about a range of water storage practices being implemented across the Minnesota River Basin. Explore maps or delve into case studies to explore the way leaders are implementing diverse water storage projects.
Welcome new Southwest board members
Meet the two new board members bringing their energy and expertise to Southwest RSDP in September 2021! A warm welcome to Michele Huggins of Granite Falls and Justice Walker of Willmar. Did you know that Michele crafts amazing bread using locally-grown grains? Did you know that Justice is a local foods enthusiast and cycling advocate?
Do you know someone who would be a great match for serving on the Southwest RSDP board? Find out more.
Community food forests
Have you experienced the bounty and environmental benefits of a community food forest? In Luverne, UMN Extension's Gary Wyatt and Project Food Forest's Kim Rockman led an Edible Perennials Workshop on Aug. 19. They focused on fruit and nut-bearing shrubs, including edible perennials in a riparian buffer at Prairie Ally Outdoor Center.
Learn more about this project supported by Southwest RSDP and numerous other partners.
Southwest RSDP board members
- DeeAnn Gieseke, email@example.com - Sleepy Eye, MN
- Sara Gronfeld, firstname.lastname@example.org - Johnson, MN
- Michele Huggins, email@example.com - Granite Falls, MN
- Eric L'Abbé, firstname.lastname@example.org - Worthington, MN
- David Lieser, email@example.com - Montevideo, MN
- Linda Meschke, firstname.lastname@example.org - Fairmont, MN
- Cheyanne St. John, email@example.com - Morton, MN
- Justice Walker, firstname.lastname@example.org - Willmar, MN
- Becky Yust, email@example.com - St. Paul, MN