Partnerships

BLEVC Grand Reopening

The National Wildlife Refuge System is committed to building partnerships which encourage conservation and protection of our natural and cultural resources. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge works with multiple partners throughout the Minnesota River Valley.

Partner Schools
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge works with schools from underserved communities around the Twin Cities metro area to provide nature-based education and interpretation lessons to students in grades K-5.

The Partner School program supports schools in which at least 50% of the students are in need of free/reduced cost lunch. The Blue Goose Bus Fund pays the transportation fee for the schools, and thus the visit is 100% FREE.

Students in this program will visit the refuge three times throughout the school year. Lessons differ by the seasons, with majority of the time spent outdoors. For students who do not have proper gear for exploring outside, there is a borrowing closet with hats, mittens, boots, etc. 

See a list of curriculum here:
https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Minnesota_Valley/visit/for_educators.html 

Partner schools for 2018-2019 include Poplar Bridge Elementary School and Valley View Elementary School in Bloomington, and Sioux Trail Elementary School in Burnsville.

Contact info:
Cortney Solum, Visitor Services Manager
cortney_solum@fws.gov
612/246-0337


Minnesota Valley Trust
Refuge lands gradually increase through a unique partnership with the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, Inc.  The Minnesota Valley Trust is acquiring new lands, which will eventually be donated to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and managed by Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.


Refuge Friends, Inc.
The mission of Refuge Friends, Inc. is to assist the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge with its mission to “work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance the fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefits of the American people.”

This includes managing the Nature Store at the refuge's Education and Visitor Center in Bloomington, welcoming visitors and answering questions about refuge lands and programs, fundraising to support refuge environmental education programs both on and off-refuge, promoting refuge programs and advocate for local environmental issues and building capacity for youth from under-served communities to engage with nature. Refuge Friends, Inc. also manages the Blue Goose Bus Fund that sponsors bus costs associated with the Partner School and Partner Teachers field trip program.

For more information about joining RFI, please visit: https://www.refugefriendsinc.org/


ArtStart
ArtStart is an award winning non-profit art organization that provides quality art experiences for children and adults through workshops, residencies, summer camps, and festivals. For the past 2 years, they have partnered with the refuge to hold the EcoArts Fest, a one-day outdoor arts, environment and culture celebration around the themes of migratory birds (2017) and pollinators (2018). This event is the culmination 6-week school art residencies at local elementary schools.


Creative Placemaking South Loop
The Creative Placemaking Commission advises the Bloomington City Council on using arts, design, culture and creativity to help accomplish the City’s goals for change, growth and transformation of the South Loop District in a way that also builds character and quality of place in Bloomington. Several collaborations between artists and the refuge have resulted in unique opportunities for visitors to experience the refuge in a new way.  Most notably, the walking play After the Birds Taught Me to Fly (2015), the Science in Nature Mural (2015) and the Somali Tea House as part of the Illuminate South Loop (2017) celebration.


Minnesota Waterfowl Association
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge also has a unique partnership with the Minnesota Waterfowl Association where one of their biologists is based out of our Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center. Cody Burke does wetland and prairie restorations throughout our Wetland Management District. For more information, check out his Biologist Blog! 


Urban Ventures
This year, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge celebrates its 2nd anniversary partnering with Urban Ventures! Urban Ventures is a faith-based nonprofit organization breaking the cycle of poverty through interactive youth and families programs in the Twin Cities. They have a strong presence in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, a predominately Latino neighborhood. Refuge staff travel with students to various recreations spots in the neighborhood, including the Midtown Greenway and Powderhorn Park, to learn about the nature in their neighborhood. Students also have the opportunity to visit the refuge at least three times throughout the school year, and once at the end of the summer. 


Wilderness Inquiry 
Wilderness Inquiry is a non-profit organization in the Twin Cities that focuses on inclusivity and outdoor recreation. Wilderness Inquiry has partnered with Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge to provide paddling experiences to underserved youth in the Twin Cities. Minnesota Valley stretches for over 70 miles along the Minnesota River, and paddling is a great way to get youth outdoors. A canoe paddle in a 10 person hand-made wooden Voyager canoe is an experience no kid can forget.