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.
The city of Morris, Minnesota, has extremely hard water. In recent years they worked with the state of Minnesota to build a water treatment plant to soften the water centrally and thus greatly reduce chloride pollution flowing into the Pomme De Terre river.
In 2022, the city of Morris partnered with University of Minnesota Morris, UMN Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, UMN Institute on the Environment, Muenster University of Applied Sciences, and other partners to develop a report that describes the performance and operation of the Morris Water Treatment Plant.
Check out the report from the city of Morris: Understanding the Performance of a New City of Morris Water Treatment Plant to Improve Water Quality Outcomes in Morris, Minnesota.
Mid Minnesota Development Commission was awarded a 2022 NADO Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Award for the Multi-Lingual Journalism Project. NADO is a national association of regional development organizations. The Impact Awards recognize activities that improve economic and community competitiveness.
“This pilot project gave some of our bilingual community members the skills needed to convey important community information in languages beyond English, in a spoken video format,” said MMDC economic development professional Michelle Marotzke. “We have already begun tapping into these individuals when we have important messages to share with our English language learners. While we [MMDC] were thrilled to help with project coordination, this pilot wouldn’t have been possible without significant funding ($20,000) from the Willmar Area Community Foundation, course delivery from Ridgewater College’s customized training and continuing education department, and valuable technical assistance from University of Minnesota Extension. It’s always terrific to collaborate with such strong regional partners!”
Southwest RSDP supported graduate researcher Dalila Hussein to complete a course evaluation for this project during spring term 2022.
Southwest RSDP board members
- 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
- Cheyanne St. John, email@example.com - Morton, MN
- Justice Walker, firstname.lastname@example.org - Willmar, MN
- Becky Yust, email@example.com - St. Paul, MN
- Beth Labenz, firstname.lastname@example.org - Mankato, MN
- Charlene Graff, email@example.com - Lamberton, MN
- Jason Beckler, firstname.lastname@example.org - Marshall, MN
- Clement Loo, email@example.com - Morris, MN
- Knute Oldre, firstname.lastname@example.org - Luverne, MN