Minnesota GreenCorps: A great resource for environmental project help, including local foods and green transportation

For most organizations working in community and population health improvement, staffing resources are at a premium. There’s always room for fresh, new perspectives and energetic and passionate champions, but not always the financial resources to support additional paid staff.


Starting in mid-September, the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and its Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project began partnering with an excellent resource for staffing augmentation that your organization may want to consider in the future: the Minnesota GreenCorps program.


Launched in 2009, Minnesota GreenCorps is a statewide program to help preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals. This program places volunteer AmeriCorps members with local governments, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations around Minnesota, where they volunteer for 11 months of service on focused environmental projects. The program is coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.


In New Ulm, GreenCorps member Nathan Fuerst is working on coordinating New Ulm's new Safe Routes to School Program, improving the city’s built environment and promoting active transportation as part of the GreenCorps’ Air Quality and Green Transportation focus.


Fuerst is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he studied where he studied environmental science, policy and management. Growing up with frequent visits to a cabin in rustic northern Minnesota, Fuerst said he developed a healthy respect for his surroundings and decided to pursue his passions in environmental policy. He said he was “very interested in how environmental footprints can be reduced in a manner that makes areas more livable and safe, and that the GreenCorps program in New Ulm attracted me because it combines comprehensive health-related goals and transportation.”


Whether individuals are just out of college or contemplating a career change, Minnesota GreenCorps provides them the opportunity to address real community needs while gaining valuable professional skills and experience. Host sites provide the opportunity to work on a project that will have a positive environmental impact on the community, as well as opportunities for the member to engage with the broader community and its partners.


GreenCorps host site applications are typically due in early May and can request a GreenCorps member for a project in one or more of seven categories: Air Quality - Energy Conservation, Air Quality – Green Transportation, Green Infrastructure – Local Foods, Green Infrastructure – Stormwater, Green Infrastructure – Urban Forestry, Living Green, and Waste Prevention and Recycling.


There is no charge to the host site, although host sites must provide access to office space and equipment, office supplies, and support for the member in terms of training, supervision and professional development. A network of state agency specialists provides technical assistance, advice and mentorship throughout the year.


More information on the Minnesota GreenCorps program is available on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s website and Facebook page.