Online Field Trip of Minnesota River

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
MN State University - Mankato
Recipient Type
Public College/University
Start Date
July 2010
End Date
June 2012
Counties Affected
Yellow Medicine
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2010, Chp. 362, Sec. 2, Subd. 08k
Appropriation Language

$124,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Minnesota State University - Mankato to develop online educational materials on the Minnesota River for schools and outreach centers.

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 Overview

Considerable public funding and effort has gone into better understanding and restoring the Minnesota River, but the research is not always readily accessible or easily understood by the public. There is a need to bridge the information gap between researchers and the public to help improve environmental education about the river. The Water Resources Center at Minnesota State University - Mankato is using this appropriation to develop educational materials and a multimedia virtual field trip that showcase, in an engaging format, what natural resource experts have learned about this unique area of our state. The materials and virtual field trip will be available on the internet and at informational kiosks placed at the Treaty Site History Center near St Peter, the Regional River History Center in New Ulm, the Ney Nature Center near Henderson and the Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) Office in Montevideo.

Considerable public funding and effort has gone into better understanding and restoring the Minnesota River. Research about the river is housed in an array of scientific publications not easily accessible for the public. This project helps to bridge the information gap between researchers and the public and to generally improve environmental education about the river. The project's goal is to increase public awareness about the river's health by using new media techniques to engage students and the public.

Major results included 1) developing and delivering the "Ask an Expert about the Minnesota River" website and 2) performing educational outreach. This project developed a multi-media virtual field trip with accompanying educational materials to showcase what scientists are learning about the Minnesota River. Citizens have a unique opportunity to learn directly from natural resource experts about the current state of the Minnesota River. Video clips of interviews and related information are available online on the Minnesota River Basin Data Center website:

Online Educational Website - Ask an Expert about the Minnesota River
Video clips of scientist and citizen experts answering questions about the river's health are the central feature of the website enriched by accompanying handouts, and graphics. Specifically, the major features of the website include:

  • 171 video clips of experts answering questions;
  • 27 handouts with background information developed to enrich each theme;
  • 9 panoramic virtual tours and 20 slideshows;
  • 5 educator's guides and 7 accompanying PowerPoint presentations on prairies, wetlands, agriculture, fish, and mussels.

Educational outreach and learning stations
Four computer kiosks (learning stations) were installed at key educational centers across the basin - specifically Treaty Site History Center in St. Peter, MN; Regional River History Center in New Ulm, MN; Ney Nature Center in Henderson, MN; and Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) office in Montevideo, MN - likely reaching 4,000-8,000 people in the upcoming year. Open houses at the four educational centers and other events directly reached approximately 349 people during the project period. Four school classroom presentations reached approximately 371 students.

The broad dissemination goals for the project are to share data with the public, students and teachers through both traditional and nontraditional outreach methods. The dissemination of this project proceeded at several levels. All the project data is available on the web in a user-friendly format. Computer kiosks (learning stations) highlighting the project were developed and installed in four key river and history centers across the basin. We also conducted outreach to three schools and four educational centers that included presentations and open houses. We have also used social media resources such as Facebook and YouTube to disseminate information about the project.

We worked collaboratively with a wide range of state and local agencies (MPCA, MDNR, Department of Agriculture, etc.) and citizen organizations (CURE, Ney Nature Center, Nicollet County Historical Society) to develop and publicize the project. Project staff have spoken about the project to local and state officials and staff, nonprofit organizations, teachers and students, and citizens. The project has received attention at scientific meetings (both poster session in 2011 and presentation in 2012 at the Minnesota Water Resources Conference) and educational training (DNR Naturalists). The project team plans to continue outreach to schools and putting on public events to promote the project and further raise public awareness about the Minnesota River.

Project Details
Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
MN State University - Mankato
Street Address
184 Trafton Science Center S
Zip Code
(507) 389-5492