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environmental education news

Recap: Hennepin County Environmental education network meeting

Connecting community and climate title slide from presentation

Educators and program managers from government agencies, nonprofits, schools, and other organizations gathered virtually on October 5 for the second Hennepin County Environmental education network meeting of 2021.

The training was held virtually and focused on climate change and engaging different audiences to take action.

Training resources

Keep an eye out on this newsletter as well as our Facebook group for announcements about upcoming network meetings. Thank you to all who participated!

Create meals, not waste: Join Hennepin County’s Stop Food Waste Challenge

We love food, which leaves us wondering: why do we let so much of it go to waste? About 40% of food is wasted somewhere along the supply chain, and you may be surprised to learn that much of that food waste happens at home.

Hennepin County’s online Stop Food Waste Challenge will help participants learn easy, practical skills to stop wasting food, put more money in their pockets, and take action on climate change.

Woman cooks food. Text "New recipe just didn't turn out right? Find yourself making more than you can eat?"


How the challenge works

During the challenge, participants commit to taking actions that have the highest impact for their household. They also get email updates with resources and tips for taking action, access to reducing food waste workshops, chances to earn prizes to help them along their food-waste-reduction journey, and opportunities to connect with others.

The challenge starts today, October 13, and it’s not too late to join! Participants can join anytime during the four-week challenge.

Join now and encourage others take the challenge

Join now at, and use the following tools from the resources section of the Stop Food Challenge website to encourage others to take the challenge along with you:

Take our youth green jobs survey

Help inform the development of a pilot Green Partners grant focused on supporting youth green jobs

Hennepin County is interested in investing in green jobs education and training programs for youth, especially those geared toward youth that face racial and other social barriers in green job training and opportunities. To expand our capacity, Hennepin County will pilot a dedicated Youth Green Jobs grant solicitation through the Green Partners grant program in 2022. The goal of this pilot will be to increase the number of high-quality green job pathways and invest in successful programs and efforts that are already underway and in need of support.

As we embark on developing this pilot, we are committed to ensuring that community goals and priorities inform the creation of the program. Please take our survey and share your thoughts.

The survey includes eight questions for anyone who wants to provide input. If you have a youth green jobs program, we appreciate if you answer yes to question 6 and answer some additional questions about your program.

Conferences and events

Confluence: Coming Together for Art and Water

Saturday, October 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Manomin Park, 6666 E River Road in Fridley

Confluence, coming together for water and art

Join Freshwater for a free celebration of Minnesota Water Stewards and their work to protect water. Confluence is open to the public and will feature art activities, a jamboree, printmaking, an interpretive hike by the river, games for kids (and adults!), a food truck, art exhibits, art for sale, and more!

Learn about Minnesota Water Stewards and join us to celebrate water with your community. Hennepin County and other watershed partners will be at Confluence to showcase our stewards’ work. Freshwater will follow the most current COVID guidelines from the CDC for this event.


Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education fall conference

Nature is essential. People teaching outside.

The theme for the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education fall conference is a lesson that the past year brought home to many: Nature is Essential.

Nature is essential, and no one knows it like this community, this year. The 2021 Fall Conference is designed to get environmental educators back together in a variety of ways that sustain our community while keeping us safe. Join from the comfort of your home or office on Thursday. Enjoy time outdoors at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday. Separate registration is available for anyone who wants to only attend the virtual or in-person days.

Virtual day: Thursday, November 11

Join other participants on Zoom to share ideas, learn and celebrate environmental education from the comfort of your home. National Geographic Fellow Willie Buford kicks off the day with a focus on fatherhood and afterschool programming. Newly elected Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly will give remarks. 

In-person conference: Friday, November 12 and Saturday November 13

Join field trips, workshops, concurrent sessions, silent auction, bonfire and a chance to reconnect and share our experiences over the past year and a half. The in-person session will formally open with words from Artly Skenadore, Oneida Nation, principal of the Oneida Middle and High School, and include a panel and discussion on the impacts of COVID-19 on environmental education programs. 

Resources and funding opportunities

Outdoor instruction mentorship program

Teach Outdoors! Minnesota is offering up to 20 mentorship opportunities for PreK-12 teachers. The goal is to build teacher’s comfort level and skills in teaching and managing classes outdoors, with each teacher mentee leading one or more lessons with their students outdoors this school year.

Mentors and mentees will begin working together this fall, and the program will wrap up in the spring. Each mentee will receive a $100 stipend at the end of their mentorship.

Applicants must:

  • Be a current PreK-12 classroom teacher (public, private, or charter) in Minnesota
  • Have a desire to begin or advance outdoor instruction in their classroom
  • Have little to no outdoor instruction experience in their current classroom

Apply by October 20, 2021. Learn more and apply.

Interested in being a mentor for teachers? Contact Karen Harrison at


Brains On! podcast talks about trash

Brains On! Podcast producers and students smile at camera

Brains On! Is a science podcast for kids and families. Each week, a different kid co-host joins the podcast to find answers about fascinating questions about the world. Their mission is to encourage kids’ natural curiosity and wonder using science and history.

In September, Brains On! spent two episodes focusing on waste. These would be a great resource to add to any waste-focused class, unit, or program. Hennepin County staff provided information to Brains On! about how waste-to-energy facilities work and were interviewed about waste prevention for these episodes.

The invention of trash (37 minutes)

This episode takes listeners on a time-traveling journey to see how we started making trash in the first place.

How to conquer Garbage Mountain (37 minutes)

On this episode, producers visit a landfill to see what happens to our trash after we throw it away and show us how we can make less trash and dispose of the trash we do make in ways that are better for the planet. Plus: hear from a kid who helped her class produce almost no waste during the school year.


Minneapolis Climate Action and Racial Equity Fund

The Minneapolis Foundation is currently accepting applications for the Minneapolis Climate Action and Racial Equity Fund. 

The fund offers grants for place-based, community-driven initiatives and projects that result in a demonstrable reduction in local greenhouse gas emissions. This program is a partnership of the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation.

Priority will be given to projects that are led by and serve Black or Indigenous communities, people of color, and/or immigrants and serve residents with designated Green Zones in the City of Minneapolis. 

Application deadline: October 22, 2021

Learn more and apply.


Propel Nonprofit Infrastructure Grants

The Nonprofit Infrastructure Grant Program offered by Propel Nonprofit supports the missions of small, culturally led organizations that work with historically underserved cultural communities by strengthening their infrastructure to position them for greater impact in their community. Proposals should lead to meaningful improvement in an organization’s infrastructure, including technology investments, staff development, relationship building, or other opportunities to increase nonprofits’ core mission support. The maximum grant amount is $45,000.

Application deadline: November 1, 2021

Learn more and apply.


EJ4Climate: environmental justice and climate resilience grants

EJ4Climate is a grant program that supports underserved and vulnerable communities and Indigenous communities in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to prepare for climate-related impacts. Grants are available for projects that advance community resiliency, result in equitable benefits, transform local knowledge into innovative action, and build partnerships. Watch their video to learn more.

Image of EJ4Climate informational video


Application deadline: November 14, 2021

Learn more and apply.


Pollinator habitat grants for high school teachers

High school pollinator habitat grants, applications due November 19. Sand County Foundation


The Sand County Foundation is offering $1,000 cash grants and plant materials to high school educators in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

This competitive grant program strives to increase the diversity of native forbs within an agricultural or other working landscape for the benefit of native bees, honeybees, and monarch butterflies. Applicants are encouraged to team up with a farmer or other land manager in their community. School properties can be used if they are dedicated to agricultural or ecological restoration purposes. In all cases, proper site preparation prior to seeding and transplanting will be key to a successful outcome.

Application deadline: November 19, 2021

Environmental jobs

Three Rivers Park District hiring part time Interpretive Naturalist

Three Rivers Park District is seeking to fill the part-time position of Interpretive Naturalist at Silverwood Park in St. Anthony. This position is responsible for developing, conducting, and enhancing interpretive programming to educate the public and facilitate an appreciation, enjoyment, and utilization of the environment and facilities of Three Rivers Park District.

Application deadline: October 21, 2021

Green Partners grantee highlight

The following organization received a Hennepin County Green Partners environmental education grant.

MIGIZI Green Jobs Pathway program

Students wear masks while conducting a science experiment and taking notes


MIGIZI received a Green Partners grant in 2019 for their Green Jobs Pathway program, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) focused program where young people are given tools and knowledge to create sustainable, green solutions for our communities. Participants have learned about the foundational pieces of STEM work and applications to sustainable practices.  

Youth in the Green Jobs Pathway program recently conducted an experiment where they measured the amount of energy in food by burning it and heating up a can of water. By knowing how much water there was and the temperature change, they were able to deduce the amount of energy that went into the water! Participants love math and science experiments like these!  

Learn more about the Green Jobs Pathway program directly from Elliot Dean, an intern in the program in this video:

Image of video where a Green Jobs Pathways intern talks about the program


Youth also got to hear from Leslee Gutierrez from COPAL MN, Christina Dovolis from East Phillips Neighborhood Institute, and former State Representative Karen Clark from Women's Environmental Institute about the environmental challenges and issues that South Minneapolis neighborhoods face. MIGIZI's young people felt the passion and importance for the well-being of their communities through the work of these leaders!  

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