Clearing storm drain
Our Bemidji storm drain cleanup and stenciling event

Celebrating Community Stewardship

Across Minnesota, we share beautiful meadows, tranquil lakes, and evergreen forests. And we share a responsibility to protect and steward these unique places. At Conservation Minnesota, we understand the importance of fostering community and building common ground to continue this culture.

Our Community Stewards, in partnership with AmeriCorps center their work on community engagement. By leading educational and service projects, they work with local citizens to help mitigate the impacts of climate change and improve conservation.

Our first term with Community Stewards based in Moorhead, Bemidji, and Winona ends this month. Over their 7-month term, Stewards reached over 800 people and hosted over 30 events.

 A Few Highlights from Our Community Stewards' First Term


Bemidji Storm Drain Cleanup and Stenciling

In the early spring months, as the ground begins to thaw and water flows to our lakes, rivers, and streams, cleaning garbage from drains is important to keep our lakes and rivers free from toxins and debris. On April 24, Community Steward Rashelle Brown led a group of 10 community members at Bemidji State University in a storm drain cleanup event. 
The event included an educational workshop from a conservation technician from the Beltrami County Soil and Water Conservation District that explained the importance of keeping storm drains unobstructed.

Safety gear and tools were distributed, and the group practiced clearing drains. Working together for 45 minutes, the group swept, weighed, and bagged 108 pounds of debris, leaves, and trash, and the stencil crew marked seven drains with a sign that read: “Do Not Pollute. Drains to Lake Bemidji.”

The event will have a lasting impact, with volunteers eager to plan future clean-up events and start a pilot group for the county’s Adopt-a-Drain program.


Grassroot Community Work–In Moorhead

Community Steward Ryan West helped grow community involvement in protecting our Great Outdoors.

In partnership with the City of Moorhead, West led a litter pick-up event in Romkey Park to deal with trash that had accumulated throughout the winter. The park got a fresh start for the season, and residents built community.

“Doing something tangible was a highlight for me,” said West reflecting on his projects. “It was great to build relationships with community members who could identify local issues and work toward solutions.”

By doing projects that directly impacted the community in Moorhead, the program grew a strong group of conservationists who have tackled other community needs, such as clearing out invasive buckthorn and teaching others in the community how to fish and forage at a local park. 


Creating Connections to Lifelong Hobbies

In honor of World Migratory Bird Day, Community Steward Eve Kramer set up a learning station at Whitewater State Park. Participants learned how to identify birds, migratory bird patterns, and how climate change affects them. They then got to observe the feeders and keep track of the birds they saw. Stewards submitted the observation results to help scientists track bird populations and migration patterns.

One curious visitor joined the event because his son had recently gotten into birding, remarking that he “didn't really understand why he liked birds so much because they're just birds.” But after looking through the binoculars and learning about the different birds in the area, the new birder left with a fresh excitement for nature and even ordered binoculars online before leaving the event.

“He realized this could help build his attention to detail, and he was happy and grateful, remarking that he couldn’t wait to watch birds with his son later,” said Eve Kramer. 
The event inspired new birders while getting community members together to learn about their area and the birds that rely on it to survive.

New Term Starts Soon

Are you, or someone you know, interested in getting involved? Consider applying for a term as a Community Steward! Conservation Minnesota is partnering with ServeMN and Ampact to hire 10 Sustainability Project Facilitators starting in August. We are still taking applications in Bemidji, Rochester, and St. Cloud.