All in-person Extension meetings, events and classes are canceled through May 31.
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.
Energy and wind
From February 20-22, 2020, a diverse group of 18 Murray County community members met in downtown Slayton for two and a half days to learn and make recommendations about the energy system and potential wind energy development in the area. The Murray County Energy Dialogue was the second in the Rural Dialogues program hosted by Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Jefferson Center. The participants, a randomly selected but demographically representative group of 18 community members, had access to resources and experts to produce their own independent recommendations that responded to the community's needs, priorities, concerns and values. Read reports and outcomes from the event.
Traditional knowledge and the stars
A Star Stories Gathering was held in early February at the Upper Sioux Community. It was a coming together of Upper and Lower Sioux Dakota community members and Micronesian neighbors to explore traditional ecological knowledge related to the stars, and included a visit by the Charles M. Matsch Geo-Dome mobile planetarium. This event was a continuation of a collaboration to build and launch traditional watercraft of both the Dakota and Micronesian people.
Community design build
In Granite Falls, the Yes! House is undergoing a gradual process of re-envisioning through the work of community members and nonprofit partners, including the Department of Public Transformation. Learn about the creative community design build process from Pioneer Public TV. With the help of Southwest RSDP, the Department of Public Transformation is working with graduate student Meghna Subba to use the Yes! House as a prototype and develop a resource guide for other property owners to help refurbish vacant small town buildings.
See all projects
Learn more about projects supported by Southwest RSDP in our storymap.
Happenings and reports from the Southwest RSDP
Farmers across the state are expanding their knowledge of soil health by keeping soil covered, minimizing tillage, and keeping living roots in the soil. A new report, "Soil Health Case Studies 2020," describes the experiences and lessons learned of nine farms across southern Minnesota. The case studies were developed by graduate student Aidan Read, in cooperation with Southwest RSDP, the Sustainable Farming Association, and the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management (CINRAM).
Halal + Kosher
A new report, Halal + Kosher Minnesota Meat Market Assessment, was released this winter by the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the University of Minnesota Extension. A team of researchers and community stakeholders, led by Extension, analyzed regulatory oversights, certifications, meat processing availability and animal welfare rules for both halal and kosher practices. The team looked at opportunities and barriers to market growth, as well as consumer concerns and preferences.
Nonprofit Deep Winter Greenhouses
MNYou Youth Garden in Willmar is planning to build a Deep Winter Greenhouse (DWG) in Willmar as a training site for new immigrants to learn the basics of growing food in Minnesota. To better understand how DWGs work best in nonprofit settings, they worked alongside graduate student Zoë Masterpole, Masters of Community Development Practice, to research other non-farm (nonprofit, educational, and/or located in urban settings) DWGs in Minnesota. Read the report "Nonprofit Use of Deep Winter Greenhouses: Minnesota Case Studies."
Project ideas are submitted to one or more of RSDP’s regional boards based on the location of the project. These project ideas are reviewed based on the following shared criteria. Southwest RSDP encourages idea submissions by February 10 for the following fiscal year period of July 1 to June 30.
- 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.
Southwest RSDP board members
- David Benson, firstname.lastname@example.org - Bigelow, MN
- Jodi DeJong-Hughes, email@example.com - Willmar, MN
- DeeAnn Gieseke, firstname.lastname@example.org - Sleepy Eye, MN
- Sara Gronfeld, email@example.com - Graceville, MN
- Kathryn Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org - Olivia, MN
- Arne Kildegaard, email@example.com - Morris, 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
- Sean (Xiong) Yang, xyoojyaj3D@hotmail.com - Walnut Grove, MN
- Becky Yust, firstname.lastname@example.org - St. Paul, MN