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.
Seeking tree lovers in Southwest Minnesota: Tree Seed Collector Network
Last summer and fall, a network of more than fifty collectors gathered tree seeds from across the southern half of Minnesota. Hundreds of thousands of seeds of basswood, yellow birch, black cherry, red, bur, white and swamp white oak, red and white pine, and white and red cedar have been collected to date. After collection, the seeds were transported to University of Minnesota - Duluth, where they were processed and distributed to 17 farmers, who will nurture tree seedlings from more than 90,000 seeds. Read more about the Forest Assisted Migration Project.
Explore the Water Storage Virtual Tour
Rain comes in more frequent and larger rainfall events than it used to in Minnesota, which causes erosion and is hard on agriculture and infrastructure. Water storage can be added to the landscape to reduce those problems by slowing down or temporarily holding back water. Wetlands, holding basins and healthy soil in a farm field are all examples of water storage.
A new online resource provides in-depth examples of helpful water storage practices in use across the Minnesota River Basin. The Water Resources Center at Minnesota State University - Mankato partnered with Southwest RSDP to provide this resource for land-owners and decision-makers.
Thank you to our wonderful board and work group members!
The Regional Sustainable Development Partnership depends on work group members and board members! These volunteers review new ideas, make decisions about project proposals, support community efforts, and establish priorities for RSDP’s work. During National Volunteer Month, board and work group members from across the state are recognized on RSDP’s Facebook page. We are so grateful for all that you do!
Are you interested in natural resources in Southwest Minnesota?
Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (RSDP) is seeking new members for their Natural Resources Work Group. Participating in RSDP offers valuable opportunities to connect with networks at a local, regional, and state level. In work groups, community members join University staff in identifying innovative solutions to community-identified needs, setting priorities, and reviewing project ideas. Learn more and apply to serve on an RSDP work group.
Scholarships and sponsorships available
Do you want to increase your capacity to serve your community? Do you have your eye on a short-term professional development experience related to sustainable development? The Southwest RSDP board has funds available for scholarships so residents of Southwest Minnesota can participate in learning opportunities related to natural resources, clean energy, resilient communities, local food systems and sustainable agriculture. Priority is given to applicants without access to professional development resources from employers or institutions. Learn more and apply for this opportunity.
Southwest RSDP board members
- DeeAnn Gieseke, firstname.lastname@example.org - Sleepy Eye, MN
- Sara Gronfeld, email@example.com - Johnson, MN
- Michele Huggins, firstname.lastname@example.org - Granite Falls, MN
- Eric L'Abbé, email@example.com - Worthington, MN
- David Lieser, firstname.lastname@example.org - Montevideo, MN
- Linda Meschke, email@example.com - Fairmont, MN
- Cheyanne St. John, firstname.lastname@example.org - Morton, MN
- Justice Walker, email@example.com - Willmar, MN
- Becky Yust, firstname.lastname@example.org - St. Paul, MN
- Beth Labenz, email@example.com - Mankato, MN