Throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area and beyond, Minnesota Water Stewards are connecting with neighbors to protect and improve the health of our water. Trained and certified through the Minnesota Water Stewards program, these local leaders spark curiosity and engage their communities in projects that make measurable impacts on water health. Applications are being accepted now for the next group of Minnesota Water Stewards eager to make a difference for water.
Linnea Goderstad has been about Water Steward work for years. After canoeing the full length of the Mississippi River with her husband in 2013, Linnea felt a strong connection to the river and its health. Back home in northeast Minneapolis, she heard about the Minnesota Water Stewards program, “I jumped at the idea of getting involved in something that could reduce pollution in our waterways.”
The Minnesota Water Stewards (MWS) certification was developed by Freshwater to provide those interested in protecting and improving water health in their communities with the knowledge, skills, and relationship with local governments they need. Stewards work through in-depth coursework that includes water science, land/water/climate interaction, behavior change, and best practices in water efficiency and protection. A culminating capstone project unites the curriculum with action that benefits the health of local waters. Stewards gain experience and confidence to serve as a source of knowledge and influence in their communities.
Linnea and her MWS partner adopted some neighborhood medians that had gone to weeds after diseased ash trees were removed. When the trees came down, the city planted new trees and dug swales in the medians. A lush crop of weeds crowded the new swales within the first year. Linnea and her partner replaced the weeds with pollinator-friendly native perennials whose deep roots soak up water and build healthy soil, and flowers attract bees and butterflies. “It’s been a real boon for pollinators,” she said. These public median gardens are also a boon for the neighborhood – a garden classroom to inspire interest and action for healthier water and a sustainable environment.
Linnea continues to rally clean-up crews to keep these gardens healthy through carefully planned, safe invitations “to get outside and help your community.” Other MWS projects include a rain barrel basics webinar complete with a barrel give-away, a coloring book intended as a field guide for self-led explorations of Bassett Creek, and a fierce, but friendly Adopt-A-Drain contest between neighborhoods.
Each Minnesota Water Steward brings a unique perspective and passion to this work. Whether volunteering with watershed districts and environmental groups, participating on city and local government boards, influencing policy, educating kids and the community, or installing projects, Stewards are at work protecting and improving the health of our waters.
Minnesota Water Stewards volunteer 50 hours of community service in their initial year of certification, at least 25 hours each subsequent year, and attend eight hours of continuing education to maintain their certification. To date, Stewards have accomplished a tremendous amount through their service. They have:
- Connected with thousands of people through outreach and educational events.
- Installed or planned more than 200 projects, including rain gardens, rain barrels and cisterns, permeable pavers, pollinator gardens, tree plantings, neighborhood outreach events and buckthorn removals.
- Prevented millions of gallons of polluted runoff – algae-causing organic material, animal waste, gas and oil spillage, excess salt, and other debris – from entering our lakes, rivers, and creeks each year.
To learn more, visit minnesotawaterstewards.org and register for an online information session.
Links will be sent following registration.
Information sessions dates and times:
- Tuesday, November 9, 2021, 5 p.m.–6 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Noon–1 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 30, 2021, Noon–1 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 30, 2021, 5 p.m.–6 p.m.