Green Partners newsletter: tree and forestry resources, grant opportunities, trainings and events

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Suddenly it’s summer! We know that this can be the busiest season for some of you with camps, day programs, events, and all of your other offerings. For the teachers among you, this could be the time to wrap things up, make tentative plans for fall, and take a much-needed break. Either way, we are hoping that the resources outlined in this issue will be helpful to all. You will find curriculum, grant opportunities, conference and training information for both this summer and this upcoming fall, and more. Stay safe and have fun out there this season!

Tree and forestry resources

Deciding how to manage ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer

New resources available to raise awareness about ash trees and emerald ash borer

ash tree resource

Emerald ash borer is the biggest current threat to our tree canopy. There are over 1 million ash trees in Hennepin County, and 100 percent of them are threatened by the emerald ash borer.

To help residents determine if they have ash trees and decide how they are going to manage them, we created a new decision guide for managing ash trees (PDF) that outlines the following steps:

  • Identify and inventory ash trees
  • Determine if your ash trees are worth saving
  • Work with a certified arborist to treat trees that are worth saving
  • Monitor and make a plan for removal and replanting of trees that aren’t being treated

Spread the word

In addition to the decision guide, the following communication resources are available to help you spread the word about emerald ash borer and managing ash trees: 

Healthy tree canopy grants available

Funding available for tree plantings, ash tree removals, tree inventories, outreach and more

planting trees

Hennepin County is offering healthy tree canopy grants to cities, affordable housing properties, schools, and nonprofit organizations to make positive changes in the tree canopy and engage the community in taking action to protect trees.

These grants aim to support efforts to educate the public on tree care and the importance of trees, combat threats to trees from invasive insects and disease, and promote the development of a more diverse and resilient tree canopy.

See the healthy tree canopy grants flyer (PDF) to learn about the different types of grants available.

Grant applications for cities and affordable housing properties are due Thursday, August 15. Applications for schools and nonprofit organizations are due Monday, October 28. Application materials can be accessed and must be submitted through the online Supplier Portal. If you haven’t used the Supplier Portal in the past, be sure to set up an account at least 24 hours before the application deadline.

Interested organizations are encouraged to contact Hennepin County foresters at to get feedback on their project ideas and support with the application process.

New trees and forestry education kit available

tree kit

We’ve got a great new resource you can use to engage your audience in learning about trees, the many benefits they provide, and the threats they face. The Hennepin County trees and forestry kit includes resources to help teach about forests, tree inventories, tree appreciation, and emerald ash borer. The kit includes examples of ash trees that have been infested with emerald ash borer. There are also tools for conducting tree inventories, using math while calculating tree size, picture books and numerous other activities and supplies. This kit is geared for ages 7 to adult with varied resources that are appropriate for different ages. Learn more about Hennepin County’s education kits and place a reservation.

Recycle Smart: know what to recycle and what happens to your recycling

To help address some common questions about recycling, Hennepin County is encouraging residents to Recycle Smart and know what goes in their recycling cart. See our recycling at work guide (PDF) or residential recycling guide (PDF) for a list of what’s accepted for recycling.

A great resource to share about recycling is a recent two-part series from Kare11. The first story featured a behind-the-scenes look at the Dem-Con materials recovery facility in Shakopee where recycling from residential carts gets sorted and baled.

screen shot of video

They discussed some challenges that these facilities face from items that don’t belong in the recycling, like plastic bags and string lights that get tangled in the equipment and batteries that can cause fires. They also highlighted some recycling tips, including to leave plastic caps on plastic bottles, to not crush aluminum cans, and what the symbol with the number on plastic items really tells you (hint: it doesn’t mean that an item is recyclable).

So what actually happens to the materials that you put in your bin? Kare11’s second story features some of the 200 companies in Minnesota that take your recycled materials and turns them into new products. Boxes, ceiling tile, plastic furniture, plastic packaging, and rebar and just a few of the items your recyclables are turned into.

video image

Event and training resources

Recycling and organics containers are available for your events!


Are you hosting events, festivals, or other outdoor gatherings this summer? Be sure to keep the environment in mind when it comes to waste! Hennepin County has free recycling containers, signs, and staff planning assistance available for recycling and organics recycling at events. Learn more and request containers at


Training: connecting the classroom to the outdoors


Eagle Bluff, in partnership with the Raptor Center (UMN) and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, are offering free, full day workshops for classroom educators.

Spend the day learning outdoor education techniques from experienced outdoor educators, and get your hands dirty designing your own science experiments outdoors. In the evening, participate in activities like a ropes course and campfire.

Workshop goals:

  • Empower teachers to take learning outside
  • Showcase how to use the RaptorLAB technology
  • Spark new ideas and engage students with citizen science
  • Connect educators with other educators

Workshop dates:

  • Thursday, June 20 at Hormel Nature Center in Austin, MN
  • Thursday, June 24 at National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN

Learn more and register. 

Webinar: Environmental Education and Indigenous Knowledge

Tuesday, July 2 at 3 p.m.

Register here

This North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) webinar will explore the intersection of environmental education and indigenous knowledge.

Megan Bang, an associate professor in education and indigenous studies at Northwestern University, will lead the webinar. Megan’s research aims to improve educational opportunities for disadvantaged children, families and communities, specifically through STEAM education and the education of indigenous peoples. She has designed curriculum and courses that help participants explore culture differences in reasoning, learning and teaching about complex ecological systems.

Each month, NAAEE offers webinars on topics of key interest to environmental education professionals. Their webinars help raise the bar on the quality of environmental education programs and social movements.

Hennepin County environmental education network training: BEETLES Introduction — teaching observational skills

beetles logo

Thursday, August 8

9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

French Regional Park, 12605 Rockford Rd, Plymouth, MN 55441 (Map)

Are you looking for new ways to lead programs that are inclusive, student-centered, or inquiry-based? Are you interested in strategies that support outdoor science education and are research-based? If so, then BEETLES would be a great resource for you! BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing) was developed at the University of California in Berkeley and is devoted to creating student activities for use in the field. This session, led by Three Rivers Park District staff, will help participants directly engage students with the natural world through scientific observation. It provides participants with basic skills, behaviors and tools to use with students to help them become curious about nature. 

Space is limited to 30 participants. RSVP as soon as you know you are able to attend to reserve your spot. RSVP form.

Registration open for Midwest Environmental Education Conference (MEEC)

Access nature: promoting inclusion and diversity in environmental education

October 3 to 5 at the Science Museum of Minnesota

The Midwest Environmental Education Conference (MEEC) will explore barriers that prevent educators and learners from accessing natural areas and having valuable learning experiences in the outdoors. Workshops and sessions will focus on ways to promote access to natural spaces for everyone, regardless of physical ability, race, gender identity, age, geography, access to transportation, or socioeconomic status.

Keynote: Asha Shoffner

keynote speaker

Asha (pronouns: she/her/hers) is a queer woman of color and first generation immigrant who has called Saint Paul home for over 30 years. She is an environmental and outdoor educator, innovator, adventurer, proud auntie, and the founder of Fiwygin Outdoors and ASHA consulting.

See the conference website for more information and register here.

Grants and funding opportunities

Quadratec’s energize the environment grant program

Quadratec, a vehicle parts company, is offering two, $3,500, environmental grants per year – one in the spring and one in the fall – to an individual or group currently pursuing a program or initiative designed to benefit our environment.

Eligible projects include:

  • Trail building or restoration projects
  • Park beautification events
  • Litter prevention initiatives
  • Earth study missions
  • Sustainable land management activities
  • Community environmental educational projects
  • Youth educational engagement events

The deadline to apply for the fall grant is June 30. Learn more and find application information here.

New EPA grants guide helps connect communities with federal assistance

A new EPA grants guide offers direction on finding and applying for grant funding opportunities. The guide provides a big picture overview of potential funding sources as well as specific information on tools, trainings and other relevant resources to help address environmental, economic, and health needs.

Produced by the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG), the guide also includes helpful links including grant writing tips and newsletter subscriptions that will help you stay on top of grant announcements and deadlines.

Seward Community Co-op Grants

The Seward Community Co-op offers the following grant opportunities to organizations working in the communities that the co-op serves:

  • SEED round-up program: a simple yet powerful community giving opportunity that allows customers to "round-up" their grocery bill to donate to the recipient organization
  • Seward Community Fund: $1,000 grants awarded annually
  • Cycle Perks Grant: $1,000 grant awarded annually to a bike-related organization

The deadline to apply for these grants is June 30, 2019.

Environmental education grant project highlights

The following organizations received Hennepin County environmental education grants and are busy engaging their audiences in taking action to protect the environment. For more information about the environmental education grants, contact Patience Caso at or 612-348-9352.

Youth with Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light promote solar energy

Young woman speaking to congregation

The youth leadership team with Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL) has been educating others about solar and energy efficiency and promoting solar in low income neighborhoods in Minneapolis. This project aims to empower youth from historically marginalized communities, specifically on the north side of Minneapolis, to understand the ecosystem and energy systems that they are a part of.

MNIPL is supporting people of faith to adopt sustainable lifestyles through camp curriculum at All in the Circle Creative Arts and Nature Camp and through partnerships in three faith communities.  

Northside Residents Redevelopment Council: Water Conservation Project

Building on the success of a pilot rain barrel program, the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC) in Minneapolis is expanding their education program to focus on the basics of water pollution prevention.

They will train ambassadors to do education and outreach on water protection using water conservation kits. The kits includes a seven-position spray nozzle, a water conservation wheel, a rain gauge, and a soil moisture meter. This approach will capitalize on relationships among friends and neighbors and tap into the expertise and experiences of community members to promote environmentally friendly landscaping decisions, reduce water use, and save money on water bills.

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