Minnesota Conservation Apprenticeship Academy

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
Board of Water and Soil Resources
Recipient Type
State Government
Start Date
July 2010
End Date
June 2013
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Many of the most experienced conservation practitioners at local soil and water conservation districts throughout the state are nearing retirement, and with their departure will go much of their practical, on-the-ground knowledge, experience, and skills. Meanwhile, college students seeking to be the next generation of conservation practitioners have knowledge of emerging technologies and other innovations that can improve and contribute to current conservation efforts. Through this appropriation the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources will work with the Minnesota Conservation Corps to find and place a total of 60 students in apprenticeship positions with county soil and water conservation district offices throughout the state. This unique program will provide an opportunity for interns to gain valuable in-the-field experience from current practitioners while sharing their knowledge with those practitioners about the newest ideas and solutions for meeting today's natural resource challenges.

Many of Minnesota's conservation districts' most experienced conservation professionals and practitioners are nearing retirement age but due to budget constraints will not be replaced until they have left employment. Consequently, Minnesota is missing a great opportunity to transfer knowledge and experience to the next generation responsible for Minnesota's conservation.

While college graduates with conservation-related degrees are knowledgeable in technology, theory, and research methods, their practical, on-the-ground skills need development. Communicating with landowners and adjusting designs for field nuances are vital skills for the success of conservation projects and are best learned from seasoned professionals. In turn, apprentices bring knowledge of emerging technologies and other innovations to improve the quality and productivity of current conservation efforts. This allows for a cross-pollination of ideas and solutions for natural resource challenges.

From 2011 to 2012, 65 students were placed with 60 Conservation Districts. During this time, the apprentices planted 33,339 trees, took 5,219 samples to monitor water quality; provided environmental education to 1,495 people; conducted 1,372 surveys; restored 1,542 acres of habitat through invasive species removal; completed 466,773 square feet of rain garden planting and maintenance; 272,173 square feet of erosion control and shoreline restoration; and 12,933,645 square feet of seeding. Due to the 2011 state shut down, a shifting of allocated funds allowed for the placement of an additional 35 students with conservation districts in May of 2013.

This program has benefits to both students and conservation districts. 100% of apprentices indicated the hands-on experience gained during the apprenticeship will enhance their future academic studies, and that they now have increased technical conservation skills and are more prepared for a future career in conservation.

98% of the Districts were satisfied with the work their apprentices completed, and 100% indicate they would participate in the program again. Managers also indicated that the work conducted by the apprentices increased the amount of conservation practices delivered by their districts during the program period.

Information from the project has been disseminated through reports to LCCMR, press releases by BWSR and the Governor's Office, local press releases by SWCDs, and through the Conservation Corps newsletter and annual report. Information was used to recruit apprentices and increase awareness of the project.

Communication and outreach activities include the aforementioned reports, press releases, and electronic newsletters. Additionally, BWSR and Conservation Corps staff conducted outreach to SWCDs to find optimal matches between districts and apprentices. Through the course of their work, the apprentices conducted significant outreach to land owners and residents in topics ranging from easement protection, to water quality education, to plant biodiversity.

Project Details
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2010, Chp. 362, Sec. 2, Subd. 08a
Appropriation Language

$368,000 is from the trust fund to the Board of Water and Soil Resources in cooperation with the Minnesota Conservation Corps or its successor to train and mentor future conservation professionals by providing apprenticeship service opportunities to soil and water conservation districts. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2013, by which time the project must be completed and the final products delivered.

2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
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
Board of Water and Soil Resources
Street Address
520 Lafayette Rd N
St. Paul
Zip Code
(651) 297-7748
Administered By
Administered by

520 Lafayette Road North
St. Paul, MN 55155

651- 296-3767