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.
Fall field day at Elm Creek Veggies
Elm Creek Veggies farm near Fairmont hosted a second field day in September. With the help of Gary Wyatt, Extension educator in forestry from UMN Extension, and a number of Martin County Master Gardeners, farmer Dean Maschoff hosted almost 100 high school students to learn about his unique combination of perennial and annual agriculture. The students went to five stations, including native prairie plantings, three sisters planting, growing and planting garlic, hazelnut shrubs, and growing tomatoes and cucumbers.
Fresh, local halal goat meat available in Willmar
A pilot project to localize halal goat meat production is underway in Kandiyohi County. After much preparation, the project launched on October 20 with Kandi Acres goat farm, Kerkhoven Country Butcher, Amin Grocery Store, and Mid Minnesota Development Commission working together to provide fresh halal goat meat to grocery stores in Willmar. University of Minnesota Extension educator Ryan Pesch is helping to track information about production, processing, and transportation costs. The team will report on the results of the pilot in 2022.
Pomme de Terre Case studies
Investing in soil health can help increase the resilience of farming operations while offering landscape-wide benefits for water and soil. Knowing that farmers learn best from each other, the Pomme de Terre River Association set about to share stories of farmers who have adopted soil health practices in their watershed. This set of eight new soil health case studies, featuring farmers from West Central Minnesota, was created in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management, with support from RSDP.
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