Experiential Environmental Education for Urban Youth

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
Hennepin County
Recipient Type
Local/Regional Government
Start Date
July 2011
End Date
June 2014
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Many inner-city youth receive little, if any, exposure to outdoor and environmental education. This lack of exposure has implications for children's health as well as their knowledge about science, the environment, and the world. In the long term this also impacts the broad public awareness and understanding necessary to ensure long-term protection and stewardship of our environment and natural resources. Hennepin County is using this appropriation to develop a new program called UrbanWatch that will aim to provide hands-on, experiential outdoor learning experiences to inner-city students in North Minneapolis in order to increase their knowledge and skills relating to ecology, agriculture, water resources, and biological diversity.

TIn 2011, Hennepin County Environmental Services was awarded $200,000 from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund for the UrbanWatch program. The goal of this program was to implement outdoor experiential environmental education in Minneapolis schools and communities that have traditionally been lacking in environmental programs. UrbanWatch brought a collective of proven curricula, activities, and tools to empower teachers and at-risk students to explore, monitor, and protect environmental resources.

The county partnered with five community organizations - Beez Kneez, Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota, Minnesota Internship Center High School, Phyllis Wheatley Community Center, and the Renewables Research and Policy Institute - to provide hands-on outdoor environmental activities to youth living in the near north side of Minneapolis.

The county partnered with the University of Minnesota Extension and the Beez Kneez to host the "Schoolyard Garden Sustainability and Support Teacher Workshop" held in March 2014. Working in conjunction with STEM coordinators and the Farm to School coordinator from Minneapolis Public Schools, the workshop provided curriculum instruction and educational resources to educators on how to maximize the potential of schoolyard gardens within the classroom.

The program increased youth's knowledge and skills regarding ecology, agriculture, water resources, and biological diversity in their own neighborhoods. These experiences equipped students and community members with the information necessary for healthier communities, a greater sense of stewardship, and increased appreciation for their natural world.


  • More than five hundred and fifty youth have been directly engaged.
  • More than twenty organizations, schools, businesses, and faith communities partnered in this program.
  • Eight gardens established.
  • Two beehives established.
  • Two public art installations completed.
  • One toolshed built using compressed earth block construction.
  • Two aquaponics labs established in schools.
  • 7 Master gardeners paired with schools and their gardens.
  • Pollinator curriculum written and published for grades K-12.
  • 25 unique classes and outings implemented for youth.
  • More than 10 newsletters distributed highlighting program successes.
  • More than 30 presentations to students, staff, and community members developed and given.
  • Resources for 30 teachers/schools established for garden classrooms.
  • 14 Teachers attended garden workshop.
  • 465 students reached through workshop, 3140-7340 youth hours spent in gardens spring 2014.
Project Details
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Chp. 2, Art.3, Sec. 2, Subd. 08c
Appropriation Language

$200,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Hennepin County in cooperation with community partners to initiate new environmental education programs targeting inner-city youth that provide hands-on, experiential outdoor learning opportunities. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2014, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.

2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Direct expenses
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Hennepin County - Environmental Services
Street Address
417 N 5th St, Ste 200
Zip Code
(612) 596-9129
Administered By
Administered by

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

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