Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (2016-present)


Completed Projects


Large Client Systems (SOWK 402), Ande Nesmith, Social Work
Spring 2016


Project Overview

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) seeks to more effectively engage culturally diverse residents in promoting water quality through programs that resonate with and are beneficial to residents in their daily lives.  Students in Large Client Systems will create a logic model to guide MWMO’s outreach with culturally diverse populations that both benefits the community and advances MWMO’s mission of promoting water quality.  MWMO will identify the community (or communities, depending on number of students) to create a targeted logic model for cultural engagement‌.

Environmental Problem Solving (ESCI 310), Chip Small
Spring 2016


Project Overview

Students will examine the effects of various land use scenarios on stormwater runoff  and pollinator habitat connectivity.  Specifically, students will examine possible effects of the conversion of vacant lots in North Minneapolis to alternative uses (e.g., urban agriculture, pollinator habitat, raingardens, or a combination of uses) on stormwater runoff rates. Students will also examine optimal and minimum spatial distances between pollinator gardens. Finally, students will explore co-benefit scenarios for combinations of different land use practices. Students’ analysis will be used to inform the targeted selection of locations for these alternative land uses and to provide justification for the conversion of vacant lots to alternative uses within MWMO’s management boundaries.

Engineering in the P-12 Classroom (TEGR 528 and EDUC 327)Deb Besser, Center for Engineering Education, and Debbie Monson, Teacher Education
Spring & Summer 2016


Project Overview

The Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization’s (MWMO) education and outreach program seeks to “provide information, services and products to promote responsible stewardship of water and natural resources by the watershed community.” As part of this goal, MWMO would like to develop curriculum units for stormwater management best management practices (BMPs) that can be shared with both formal and informal educators. Currently, MWMO shares general resources with educators (e.g., resources from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or the U.S. Geological Survey), but MWMO does not have the capacity to develop curriculum units for specific BMPs in their watershed.

Students in Engineering in the P-12 Classroom will be invited to develop engineering design curriculum units for BMPs in MWMO’s watershed boundaries. Curriculum resources tailored to stormwater management BMPs that are installed on sites within MWMO’s boundaries may increase and facilitate educators’ and the public’s engagement with these sites and practices. Curriculum units that educators can use at specific sites in the watershed would also support the goal of place-based education.

Ethnographic Writing (GENG 672), Todd Lawrence
Spring 2016


Project Overview

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization seeks to understand why and how residents within their watershed engage in urban agriculture, including motivations, barriers, and benefits, in order to more effectively engage other residents in urban agriculture.  MWMO’s overarching goal is to improve water quality by reducing the volume and speed of stormwater runoff.  Urban agricultural practices may reduce the volume and speed of stormwater runoff by changing compacted soils that cannot infilitrate water to healthier soils that can absorb stormwater.

Students will investigate engagement in urban agriculture through ethnographic research with residents of North Minneapolis.  Based on this research, students will create narratives of residents’ stories of engagement with urban agriculture. In the process of writing these ethnographies, students will explore themes about motivations for and meanings of engaging in urban agriculture as well as barriers residents experience.  This study will provide rich, qualitative data upon which a further study examining motivations to engage in urban agriculture can be developed and messages to encourage residents’ engagement in urban agriculture can be built.

Environmental Science Senior Research Seminar (ESCI 430), Lisa Lamb and Sami Nichols
Spring 2016


Project Overview

The Mississippi River corridor is an ecosystem of connected natural and urban habitats, which provides benefits to both wildlife and humans. The “Above the Falls” stretch of the Mississippi River shoreline has historically been industrial, but the Mississippi River Management Organization (MWMO), the Mississippi Riverfront Partnership (MRP), and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) would like to restore this area to provide habitat connectivity along the river corridor.  Property ownership complicates this goal; property along this stretch of the river has multiple owners and uses (e.g., residential, industrial, parks, vacant Brownfields).  “Postage-stamp” parks have been created along this stretch, as the MPRB and partners purchase land along the river in a piecemeal fashion, when available.

To achieve restoration goals in this context, the corridor as a whole needs to be assessed for wildlife function.  For example: What wildlife species are currently present? What is a meaningful corridor (size/length) to maximize wildlife habitat and to provide habitat conveyance?  Finally, the complexity of property ownership and public access needs to be considered.  How can the corridor be restored considering the current context of multiple property owners along the river? How can restoration goals be achieved while still providing an accessible riverfront for the public?

Organizational Communication (COJO 320), Xiaowen Guan
Spring 2016


Project Overview

The Freshwater Society’s (FWS) Master Water Stewards program (MWS) develops, certifies, and supports community volunteer leaders to manage stormwater at a neighborhood scale to improve water quality. FWS is wrapping up the third year of its partnership with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and is preparing to expand the MWS program to seven watershed districts and one city in the coming year, including the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. To support this expansion, FWS would like to develop a set of recommended communication practices for its new partners to use to develop and maintain engaged, interested, and involved water stewards after they have completed their certification. Students will examine how FWS has set up communication with MWS volunteers to identify and analyze what works well and what can be improved to develop and maintain engaged, interested, and involved water stewards after they have completed their certification. Based on this research, they will create a set of recommended communication practices or blueprint for communication for new local government unit partners to develop and maintain engaged, interested, and involved water stewards.

Analytic and Persuasive Writing (ENGL 304), Lucia Pawlowski
Spring 2016


Project Overview

The Freshwater Society’s (FWS) Master Water Stewards (MWS) program develops, certifies, and supports community volunteer leaders to manage stormwater at a neighborhood scale to improve water quality. FWS is wrapping up the third year of its MWS pilot partnership with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and is preparing to expand the MWS program to seven watershed districts and one city in the coming year, including the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO).  To support the expansion of the program, FWS would like to increase the public visibility of the program to recruit future MWS participants and to share stories of current MWS projects and activities.  Students in Analytical and Persuasive writing will create different media to help achieve this goal, including live tweets of watershed tours and narratives of Master Water Stewards’ journeys from “0-10” in their understanding of watersheds.

Critical Thinking: Lit/Writing (ENGL 121)Michael Raimondi
Fall 2017

The Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization’s (MWMO) education and outreach program seeks to “provide information, services and products to promote responsible stewardship of water and natural resources by the watershed community.”  As part of this goal, the MWMO seeks to promote community connections with and understanding of the Mississippi River system. The MWMO’s building serves as a learning center. In addition to permanent installations of stormwater best management practices and green infrastructure that promote water quality, the building has an exhibit space where they host art/writing installations about water and the river. Exhibits are created by local artists with the goal of fostering community connections with and understandings of the river and to engage the community in actions to promote river health.

English 121 students, in partnership with 6th grade students from College Prep Elementary, Saint Paul, will create an interactive exhibit (e.g., written pieces or other forms of artwork) that engage people around the concepts of river stories and sanctuary.  College and elementary students will present their exhibit to family and friends at the MWMO to advance the MWMO’s goal of engaging people from diverse communities with the Mississippi River and fostering deeper understandings of and connections with the river.

Psychological Testing (PSYC 313), Tonia Bock
Spring 2017


Project Overview

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) would like to better understand attitudes and perceptions about stormwater management practices and water quality of the Mississippi River in general.  Students in Psychological Testing will design, create, and gather evidence of the validity of a new survey that addresses a specific question related to these general topics.  Students will be provided with example survey topics; they may choose from these topics or seek to create their own topic within the MWMO’s general issues of interest.  This is an optional project topic for their lab work to create a survey and assess its validity.


Partner Outcomes

Discovering people’s attitudes about issues like water quality, stormwater management and the environment generally is a persistent need and challenge for the MWMO. The surveys designed by these students offer a blueprint for future research into these areas. The MWMO is looking at doing a survey in the near future about business owners’ attitudes about stormwater BMPs, and will design this and other future surveys with the students’ insights in mind. MWMO may also use the surveys about environmental attitudes with some of their outreach groups in an effort to gauge the attitudes of audiences like Master Water Stewards, grant recipients and other key audiences.

Engineering in the P-12 Classroom (TEGR 528 and EDUC 327), Deb Besser, Center for Engineering Education, and Debbie Monson, Teacher Education
Summer 2017

The Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization’s (MWMO) education and outreach program seeks to “provide information, services and products to promote responsible stewardship of water and natural resources by the watershed community.” As part of this goal, MWMO would like to develop curriculum units for stormwater management best management practices (BMPs) that can be shared with both formal and informal educators. Currently, MWMO shares general resources with educators (e.g., resources from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or the U.S. Geological Survey), but MWMO does not have the capacity to develop curriculum units for specific BMPs in their watershed. Students in Engineering in the P-12 Classroom will be invited to develop engineering design curriculum units for BMPs in MWMO’s watershed boundaries. Curriculum resources tailored to stormwater management BMPs that are installed on sites within MWMO’s boundaries may increase and facilitate educators’ and the public’s engagement with these sites and practices. Curriculum units that educators can use at specific sites in the watershed would also support the goal of place-based education.

Environmental Communication (COJO 372), Mark Neuzil
Spring 2017


Project Overview

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) has a library of graphics for stormwater best management practices. The MWMO uses these graphics on signs, flyers, and other communication materials for the public; these communication materials seek to engage the public in implementing stormwater best management practices to promote infiltration of water into the ground and prevent runoff to the Mississippi River.  Other watershed districts in the area are interested in collaborating with the MWMO to use this set of graphics across watershed districts so that they will become more recognizable to the public and so that watershed districts can build momentum around them.  However, before the MWMO proceeds with this collaborative effort, the MWMO would like to assess whether the graphics are effective in achieving their desired responses/goals in different communication settings. Students in Environmental Communication will evaluate these graphics with respect to the MWMO’s goals and provide their analysis and feedback to the MWMO to inform their work.


Partner Outcomes

MWMO staff met in May 2017 to review and discuss the focus group’s comments. The students’ feedback provided insights that challenged the level of confidence MWMO had in some of the symbols they had been using. It also gave MWMO a roadmap for improving those images and bringing a higher level of consistency to their iconography. MWMO plans to do additional research with other audiences and ultimately redesigning several of the icons.