The Minnesota River Basin features a wide-range of nonprofit organizations dedicated to engaging and involving citizens in their work and mission. Three of the nonprofits – CURE, CCMR and Friends – cover a specific region of the watershed (Upper, Middle and Lower) while the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance focuses on working on issues throughout the entire basin. Some organizations concentrate on improving water quality (Citizens for Big Stone Lake), others have a broader mission (Tatanka Bluffs) and many others work to create more wildlife habitat or hunting and fishing opportunities.
Blue Earth County Historical Society
Founded in 1901, the Blue Earth County Historical Society collects, preserves, and interprets the history of Blue Earth County. As part of its mission, the nonprofit organization operates the Heritage Center located in Mankato through its rich collection of artifacts, photographs, and hands-on exhibits. A research center is available for researchers and genealogists with a comprehensive obituary index, cemetery transcriptions, subject and surname files, and microfilmed newspapers. The Blue Earth County Historical Society also operates the Historic R.D. Hubbard House, a 1905 home of local flour mill entrepreneur.
Contact: 507-345-5566 - http://www.bechshistory.com/
Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry
Founded in 1996 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame of Mankato, this center exists to work collaboratively toward a sustainable future for all. The Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry promotes living interdependently within the community of life through four initiatives: Educational and Spiritual Enrichments; Community Garden; Advocacy and Networking; and Earth Education and Resource Centers. A main focus of the Center is an annual Earth Conference that covers issues like water, food justice, and the natural environment along with their Community Garden Initiatives and sponsoring of other environmental-related events and workshops.
Contact: 507-389-4200 - http://www.ssndmankato.org/whatwedo/ministries/earth.php
Citizens for Big Stone Lake
Over 800 people on both sides of Big Stone Lake in South Dakota and Minnesota work together to initiate and coordinate projects and activities to improve and protect this lake’s water quality. First organized in 1977, Citizens for Big Stone Lake have recruited more citizen monitors, lobbied for tougher feedlot ordinances, held public events and worked with farmers to install a variety of conservation practices. Significant water quality improvement has been achieved on the Big Stone Lake due to this dedicated group of citizens.
Contact: 320-839-2609 - http://c4bsl.org/
Clean Up the River Environment (CURE)
The mission of this grassroots, citizen-based organization is to focus on public awareness in the Upper Minnesota River Watershed by taking action to restore and protect its water quality, biological integrity, and natural beauty for all generations. CURE works to achieve this by organizing and inspiring area youth and the general public through Trips, Tours and Direct experiences of the Upper Minnesota River environment. They strive to Build Bridges, Gather and Convene meetings with farmers, business owners and recreational users of the Watershed to foster common purpose and vision about land use in the region and through Public Policy Advocacy at the local, regional and federal level.
Contact: 877-269-2873 - http://www.curemnriver.org/
Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River (CCMR)
One of the first nonprofit, citizen-driven organizations to form in the wake of the Minnesota River Assessment Project (MNRAP) in 1990, CCMR organized as a way to fight for the future of the Minnesota River. This advocacy group focuses on the middle portion of the Minnesota River Basin based out of New Ulm’s Riverside Park and home of the Regional River History Center. CCMR works with a diverse selection of organizations and individuals to give people a voice in determining the future of the Minnesota River and help celebrate all the contributions to improving water quality.
Contact: 507-359-2346 - http://www.newulmweb.com/ccmr/
Regional River History Center of New Ulm
Developed by the Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River, the Regional River Center of New Ulm provides citizen access to the Minnesota River and Cottonwood watershed basins including online data, along with area historical and cultural artifacts. A diverse selection of exhibits on mussels, fish and other related subjects is open to the public during the summer months. The history center is located on the Minnesota River at Riverside Park school house in New Ulm.
Contact: 507-359-2346 or 507-354-8367
Conservation Partners of America
Established in 2002, the mission of the Conservation Partners of America (CPA) is working together to preserve, to enhance fish and wildlife, and to educate the general public. CPA was formed to enable sportsmen to enhance and protect our natural resources with local committees given the ability to coordinate conservation efforts in their own areas. As a rule, CPA operates without boundaries giving it the flexibility to work on all types of projects.
Contact: 320-864-6324 - http://www.cpa-wildlife.org/default.html
Creative Play Place
A vision of the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative, the Creative Play Place in St Peter is a free indoor play area designed to allow children to develop their bodies and minds through exercise, dramatic play and the arts. This is a place for families to take their children to play during the colder months featuring a two-story castle, arts and reading space and much more. The Creative Play Place also offers classes for families that concentrate on family nutrition and exercise through the St. Peter Community and Family Education office.
Contact: 507-351-4284 - http://creativeplayplace.wordpress.com/
Earthrise Farm Foundation
In 2004, Sisters Kay and Annette Fernholz established the Earthrise Farm Foundation as a part of their organic, community-supported garden in Lac qui Parle County. They founded this nonprofit organization to fulfill a goal of renewing our Earth connections. Earthrise Farm Foundation’s mission is rooted in the prairie farmland of western Minnesota and dedicated to renewing our connections to our home the Earth. This foundation provides educational programs and spiritual opportunities pertaining to cosmogenesis, Earth literacy, organic farming, food and nutrition. Earthrise Farm seeks to be the holy ground where radical hospitality, ecological agriculture and the new origin story meet.
Contact: 320-752-4700 - http://www.earthrisefarmfoundation.org/index.html
Friends of High Island Lake
In the Autumn of 2003, citizens around High Island Lake began to organize a “friends” group under an initiative sponsored by the Friends of the Minnesota Valley. This group of local residents is working to improve water quality on High Island Lake by installing Best Management Practices, hosting fundraisers, and work with the DNR to conduct drawdowns to encourage submergent vegetation growth. The Friends of High Lake holds monthly meetings in New Auburn and has assisted the city in the establishment of rain gardens to control storm water runoff and reduce pollutants entering the lake.
Contact: 507-359-2346 – no web site
Friends of Minneopa
Dedicated to preserving, managing and promoting the resources of Minneopa State Park, this nonprofit organization came together in 1998. A group of community activists recognized the need to support and highlight what is going on at one of the oldest state parks in Minnesota. Friends of Minneopa have conducted an annual bird survey, removed invasive plants and put on public events including a candle light cross-country ski and snowshoe evening. They traditionally meet four times a year – January, April, July and October. Check out the book, Minneinneopa: 150 Year History - Minneopa State Park by Gordon Herbst that can be purchased at Minneopa State Park, the Blue Earth County Historical Society or at Barnett Photo.
Contact: 507-389-5464 - http://mrbdc.wrc.mnsu.edu/org/fom/
Friends of the Minnesota Valley (Friends)
The creation of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in 1976 led to the formation of the nonprofit organization Friends of the Minnesota Valley six years later. Today, this group serves as the primary private support group for the Refuge and Lower Minnesota River Watershed. Their vision calls for “a healthy, sustainable Minnesota River Valley” by maintaining a “core Refuge and River constituency of citizens, elected officials and landowners who are educated on the importance of the River and Refuge.” Friends of the Minnesota Valley partners with cities and towns on community cleanups for water quality, cost-share on the installation of conservation practices and advocate the importance of the Refuge along with other important initiatives.
Contact: 952-881-3174 - http://www.friendsofmnvalley.org/
Gaylord Game Protective League
For over 100 years, this organization has been active in conservation and natural resource issues in Sibley County. The club owns and operates a beautiful park on the east shoreline of Lake Titloe, which is used for trap-shooting, camping and community events. They also maintain a boat access area. In addition, the group owns 64 acres of Shoreland on Lake Titloe and 18 acres of Shoreland on Mud Lake south of Gaylord. Both properties have been set aside for wildlife habitat. The Gaylord Game Protective League is an active sponsor and partner with other local sportsmen’s groups.
Granite Falls Riverfront Revitalization (GFRR)
Encouraging the public to use the Minnesota River and reinventing Granite Falls’ downtown is the goal of this nonprofit organization formed in 2009. GFRR calls for making the K.K Berge Building the “Front Porch for Granite Falls by repositioning Main Street as a Gateway to the Upper Minnesota River Valley and increasing their capacity to welcome, connect and inspire. As their first project, the K.K. Berge building will be used for community uses including the rental of kayaks/canoes and bikes during the summer months.
Contact: 320-564-4039 (Chamber Office) - http://www.theholthouse.com/GFRRhome.html
Joseph R. Brown Heritage Society
The mission of the J.R. Brown Heritage Society is to collect and present the interlinked cultural and ecological stories of the entire Minnesota River Valley and the history of Joseph R. Brown through exhibits, publications, and a specialized research library and river center. Brown was a 19th century entrepreneur and statesman and Henderson town founder. The goal of the Heritage Society is to create an ever expanding Minnesota River Valley “Story Telling Center” of continuing value to youth, educators, Henderson residents, tourists and River Valley residents, and to facilitate cooperation among similar organizations especially between Mendota and Mankato.
Contact: 507-248-3331 - http://www.hendersonmn.com/organizations/jrbheritagesociety.php
Lac qui Parle Lake Association
Incorporated in April of 1986, the purpose of the Lac qui Parle Lake Association is to build a better community through the preservation, improvement, and restoration of Lac qui Parle, to protect wildlife habitat, to stock and raise and assist others to stock and raise fish and wildlife, to encourage and promote prevention, control and abatement of water pollution, and to generally promote the preservation of the natural environment.
Contact: 320-734-4450 (Lac qui Parle State Park)
Lake Elysian Watershed Association
The goal of the Lake Elysian Watershed Association is to improve the lake for both fish and wildlife as well as for boating and recreational use.
Contact: 507-234-6645 - http://elysianmn.com/businesses/sportsman.html
Lake Titloe Beautification Committee
The main goal of the Lake Titloe Beautification Committee is to address concerns about water quality issues involving both nonpoint and point source pollutants. Sponsored by the City of Gaylord, the committee works to educate community members and others on how to restore and protect Lake Titloe through conservation efforts in the entire watershed. This work has involved conducting a study of the lake, funding Best Management Practices and sponsoring public forms. The Lake Titloe Beautification Committee meets monthly at the Gaylord City Hall and constructed a ½-mile public path along the lake’s shoreline.
Lura Lake Association
Local residents formed the Lura Lake Association to start a campaign to improve water quality on this 1,200 acre lake after the establishment of a Blue Earth County park. The group has provided hundreds of volunteer hours and raised funds to reach out to farmers to reduce excessive phosphorous entering the lake and installing conservation practices. Each year the Association hosts a Lura Lake Fair at the county park to bring attention to this resource and encourage children to fish and learn about water quality issues. The Lura Lake Association has also been involved in restoration work on nearby Ida Lake and the establishment of public lands through the MN DNR.
Mankato Area Environmentalists
This loosely organized, totally grassroots nonprofit organization works on issues affecting the natural environment in the Mankato area. The mission of the Mankato Area Environmentalists (MAE) is to be an ongoing voice for environmental quality, a source of action to shape environmental policies and practices in the Minnesota River Valley – Bend of the River area of south-central Minnesota. One of their main focuses is promoting environmental efforts by other organizations and groups. They meet monthly to discuss environmental issues related to the Mankato area and also on the state, national and world level.
Contact: 507-345-4494 - http://www.hickorytech.net/~enviros/
Mankato Paddling and Outing Club
A citizen-led and volunteer-based nonprofit organization, the mission of the Mankato Paddling and Outing Club (MPOC) stresses paddling and outdoor activities as a way to engage people in the outdoors and protect the natural environment. Each month the club sponsors adventures, programs and other activities. One of the highlights for the MPOC is their annual Minnesota River Valley Spring Clean-Up in May on both the Le Sueur and Blue Earth rivers. The club tries to do their part by picking up debris and junk in and on both sides of the river and the boat launch areas to protect the natural environment.
Contact: 507-345-8701 - http://www.hickorytech.net/~mrbscr/index.htm
Many Rivers Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts
The mission of the Many Rivers Chapter is to provide a forum for members and other like minded individuals to preserve, restore, expand, maintain and enhance native prairie remnants and oak savannas. This chapter of the Prairie Enthusiasts, a nonprofit grassroots conservation organization, works throughout Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Freeborn, Marin, Nicollet, Waseca and Watonwan counties in Central Minnesota. Long term goals involve providing labor and assistance for prairie work, educational efforts, training opportunities, easement purchases and providing a forum to help people expand their appreciation of prairie and oak savannah habitats.
Contact: 507-317-8532 - http://www.theprairieenthusiasts.org/chapter/manyrivers/manyrivers.htm
Minnesota River Board
Organized in 1995, the Minnesota River Board (MRB) is a joint powers board comprised of 27 counties within the basin. The mission of this organization is to provide leadership, build partnerships, and support efforts to improve and protect water quality in the Minnesota River Basin. Led by county commissioners, the MRB strives to seek ongoing input from stakeholders across the basin including citizens, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. The MRB helped secure the establishment of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, fund water quality-related projects, and engage policy decision-making bodies.
Contact: 507-389-5491 - http://www.minnesotariver.org/
Minnesota River Watershed Alliance
This organized network of citizens, public agencies and nonprofit organizations is dedicated to communicating the benefits of an ecologically healthy Minnesota River Watershed to others and are actively working toward its improvement and protection. The Minnesota River Watershed Alliance meets four times a year (January, April, July and October on the third Tuesday) and encourages both landowners and recreational users of the river to be part of this effort. Formed in February of 2005, this group of river advocates has channeled the power of the entire basin to move forward a number of wide ranging initiatives including a Minnesota River Paddler Program, Minnesota River – Lake Pepin Friendship Tour and Minnesota River Film Documentary.
Contact: 507-389-2304 - http://watershedalliance.blogspot.com/
Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter
First organized on March 2, 1967, the mission of the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter (MRVAC) is to provide leadership in promoting environmental awareness, education and advocacy action, especially relating to the wildlife and habitats of the Minnesota River Valley. MRVAC promotes the understanding, enjoyment and protection of native birds, other wildlife and habitats. One of MRVAC’s main objectives is to teach children about the importance of getting outdoors, experiencing nature, and caring for wildlife and the environment. Chapter meetings are held the fourth Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m. (September through May) at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor in Bloomington.
Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway Alliance
From the South Dakota border at Browns Valley down to Belle Plaine at the lower end of the basin, the Minnesota River National Scenic Byway Alliance promotes the diversity of attractions, communities and recreational opportunities found in the Minnesota River Basin. The Byway focuses on three themes: Agricultural – “Food for a Nation,” “A River Legacy” – a natural history and beauty of the valley, and “Struggles for a Home” – the history and tradition of people who have lived here. The Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway Alliance is made up of organizations, agencies and citizens working together to highlight what is happening on this national scenic route.
Contact: 888-463-9856 - http://www.mnrivervalley.com/
Minnesota Valley Trust
Created to mitigate the impact airplane flights over the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the Minnesota Valley Trust works to expand the refuge by 4,090 acres, construct a new environmental education and visitor center and construct other public use facilities. The settlement of $26.09 million between the Metropolitan Airports Commission and the Refuge has been responsible for expanding the refuge along the Minnesota River all the way down to Sibley County and the purchase of Wetland Protection Areas (WPAs) in Blue Earth County.
Contact: 612-801-1935 - http://www.mnvalleytrust.org/index.php
Ney Nature Center
Overlooking the Minnesota River near Henderson, this nonprofit, learning center has been offering environmental-related education programs to the public since 1996. The Ney Nature Center features a learning center, 450 acres of restored wetlands and native prairie, and an extensive trail system. Here is where the first of the deformed frogs were found that helped lead to extensive research across the country on this issue. Today, college professors and students from local institutions continue to conduct research at the Ney Nature Center including a frog-migration project and a Monarch Butterfly Tagging Program.
Contact: 507-248-2474 - http://neycenter.org/
New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen
Conservation efforts, river clean-ups, and providing fishing opportunities are just a number of focuses by the New Ulm Sport Fishermen group. Formed in 1986, this nonprofit group has assisted in the development and improvement of Clear Lake in Brown County, putting on children-related activities and were founders of the Sportsmen’s Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River (today it is called CCMR – Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River). New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen meet once a month and put on fishing contests and trips.
Contact: P.O. Box 294; New Ulm, MN 56073 - http://www.newulmsportfish.org/about_us.htm
Nicollet County Historical Society
A gateway and gathering place for thousands of years, the Nicollet County Historical Society interprets the rich history of the county, the Minnesota River Valley, and the state. This organization collects and shares the history of Nicollet County through interpretive programs, historical sites, and educational activities. Check out the Treaty Site History Center, Traverse des Sioux site, Cox House (all in St. Peter), Harkin Store (outside of New Ulm), and Fort Ridgley Historic Site (south of Fairfax). The Treaty Site History Center offers a modern interpretive display, research room, restored native prairie and much more.
Contact: 507-934-2160 - http://www.nchsmn.org/index.html
Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center
This nonprofit education center is committed to providing outstanding environmental education and outdoor experiences to people of all ages. The mission of the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center (PWELC) is to promote an individual and shared commitment to the responsible use, management, and preservation of our natural resources. PWELC provides environmental education programs, challenge course and teambuilding activities, living history and time travel along with meeting, retreat and conference facilities. They serve students, youth groups, corporate and business groups, community organizations and family gatherings.
Contact: 320-354-5894 - http://prairiewoodselc.org/index.html
Putting Green Inc.
The mission of this nine-acre riverside park and environmental learning center is to educate and inspire people to make choices to create a healthier planet. Putting Green Environmental Adventure Park had been planned, developed and operated by local high school students to offer an environmentally themed mini golf course, a concession stand selling eco-friendly foods, an interpretive river trail, solar-powered clubhouse, native plant gardens and walkways with educational exhibits. A partnership between Putting Green Inc. and MRCI Worksource New Ulm (creates opportunities for people with disabilities or disadvantages to help them play a role in the community) launched a sustainable farm at the adventure park.
Contact: 507-354-7888 - http://www.puttinggreen.org/
Renville County Historical Society
Located in the historic town of Morton on the beautiful Minnesota River, the Renville County Historical Society & Museum, the site consists of a six building complex. Organized in 1940, the purpose of the society is to collect, preserve and share the history of Renville County and its people. Visitors will find a main museum building featuring displays, artifacts and a large research area along with two school houses, machine shed, church and log cabin.
Contact: 507-697-6147 - http://www.renvillecountyhistory.com/index.php
Formed on November 13, 2003, Rural Advantage is a nonprofit corporation formed to provide a vehicle to continue the Third Crop Initiative after the discontinuation of the Blue Earth River Basin Initiative (BERBI). The mission of Rural Advantage is to promote the connections between agriculture, the environment, and rural communicates in order to improve ecological health, economic viability and rural vitality. Rural Advantage works with farmers to incorporate Third Crops like native grasses, hybrid hazelnuts and woody decorative florals into their agriculture operation. One of the major projects led by this nonprofit corporation is the Madelia Model, going beyond corn ethanol for alternative energy production.
Contact: 507-238-5449 - http://ruraladvantage.org/
St. Peter Food Co-op
Originally operated by the members (on a volunteer basis), the St. Peter Food Co-op formed in 1979 to provide something beyond the offerings of conventional supermarkets. This member-owned, democratically operated co-op is committed to offering natural, organic, Fair Trade, and locally produced food to the community. Experienced leaders in the natural foods market, the St. Peter Food Co-op is known for their personalized customer service, product expertise, and consumer advocacy. Education and outreach is part of the Co-op’s goal to stay connected with the community by offering free classes, coordinating demonstrations and events, and much more including their “Community Day” program.
Contact: 507-934-4880 - http://www.stpeterfood.coop/
Save the Kasota Prairie, Inc.
The push to create the nonprofit organization Save the Kasota Prairie, Inc. (SKP) came about in 1979 to prevent a Connecticut mining company to save a portion of prairie near the community of Kasota. After a few years of legally maneuvering by SKP and the Unimin mining company, the two groups entered into an agreement preserving 90 acres of the prairie and establishing other conservation practices to protect the natural resources. SKP continues to protect the native prairie and use the area for outreach programs including “Kasota Prairie Day”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org - http://www.skp.org/index.html
Residents of Renville and Redwood counties formed a nonprofit organization to build a vibrant, prosperous corridor along this portion of the Minnesota River. In addition to creating economic stability, the vision of Tatanka Bluffs is to protect the natural resources of the Minnesota River Corridor between the Upper Sioux Agency State Park and the Fort Ridgely State Park along with areas surrounding the two counties. One of the main focus areas for Tatanka Bluffs is preserving unique natural, historical and cultural significant areas through its Green Corridor Project including the development of a trail system.
Contact: 507-637-2828 - http://tatankabluffs.com/