Megan Frisvold, MN GreenCorps Member
My name is Megan Frisvold and I am from Eagan, MN. I graduated from Iowa State University in May 2018 with degrees in Global Resource Systems and Environmental Studies, with minors in Sustainability and Spanish. I was fortunate enough to complete an international internship during the summer of 2017 in Cuenca, Ecuador, where I completed a research project focused on water quality assessments in urban public schools. My internship led me to discover a greater interest in water issues – water quality, access, and connections between social issues.
Upon graduating, I moved back to Minnesota and applied for the Minnesota GreenCorps program, a branch of AmeriCorps focusing on environmental service projects within the state of Minnesota. I was placed with Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) as my host site and was part of the Communications and Engagement team. The service term was October 2018 – August 2019, over the past 10 months I have worked on a variety of tasks. Some things I had the opportunity to do include: complete a literature review to better understand best practices for engaging with diverse audiences, attend a variety of community events, engage with new community based organizations and strengthen relationships with those CRWD is familiar, create several new resources utilizing best communication practices, and manage the creation process of a new education display, which will be complete in the fall.
H2O on the Go Education Display
Before I started at CRWD, the Communications and Engagement Division staff identified the need for a new education display that would be inviting and exciting to draw in a wide variety of people at future community events. I began working on the idea in October, taking it on as Project Manager. Working with the Communications and Engagement Division and our Artist in Residence, Christine Baeumler, we devised a new strategy and process for creating an education display. The initial idea was to make an interesting display that could connect the work of CRWD seamlessly with art, following the principles of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) design. In order to create this display, we created a new process to work with local artists. We drafted a “Call to Artists” and utilized a “Request for Proposals” process to have interested artists or teams submit proposals to be considered for concept design and fabrication. We also organized a Review Committee, made up of Steve Dietz (Co-Director of Northern Spark), Seitu Jones (CRWD Board Manager and local artist), and Christine Baeumler (CRWD Artist in Residence and local artist) to provide feedback on the proposals and give input on design once a proposal was selected. The Review Committee, along with select staff, reviewed the proposals, gave feedback, and decided which one to move forward with. Local artist Gita Ghei and her apprentice Signe Peterson were the selected finalists. They are currently in the process of developing a full-scale prototype and expect to complete final fabrication this fall. I am very excited to see the display in action and have gained a lot of experience by managing this project throughout the yearlong process.
Literature Review of Best Practices for Engaging Diverse Audiences
I conducted a literature review focused on engaging diverse audiences by identifying and analyzing a variety of relevant resources. I looked for articles and research on diversity within the environmental field and effective communication and engagement methods for a broader audience. My findings served as the groundwork to continue implementing the “Diversity Strategic Plan” that CRWD finalized in 2018. The main goal of this literature review was to gain a better understanding of current engagement methods, and where the District could continue to improve. The findings of my review also helped guide portions of the “Stakeholder Outreach” phase of the 2020 Watershed Management Plan process. Key findings that were identified as opportunities to improve engagement and communication methods within the District include:
– Meet new audiences or community members where they are most comfortable.
– Utilize translation services as possible.
– Create resources that are easy to understand and utilize basic language, more images and icons, etc., to communicate with diverse audiences.
– Be aware of backgrounds and experiences that may differ from your own and be sensitive to those experiences.
CRWD currently implements several of these methods and others. These findings will be utilized in the future to help refine areas where we can continue to improve.
I had the privilege of working with several community organizations over the course of my service term, including Frogtown Green, Higher Ground Academy, Urban Farm and Garden Alliance, Springboard for the Arts, and Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center. I worked with these organizations on a variety of activities including giving class presentations, creating newspaper ads, attending meetings and sponsored events, assisting with a grant application for stormwater treatment improvements, and creating an environmental justice curriculum to be used in a summer camp setting. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with such a range of impressive organizations based in the District and look forward to continuing to work with them and others through future outreach.
Events I attended include:
– Blooming St Paul Awards with City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation
– Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District’s Phalen Freeze Fest
– Frogtown Green’s Green Gathering
– Saint Paul Regional Water Services Tours
– Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District’s Phalen Water Fest
– Parkview Center School Field Day
– Dragonfly Bonanza at Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary
– Presentation at In Progress, a non-profit digital arts center
– Ramsey County Master Gardeners Annual tours
– East Side Health and Well-Being Collaborative: Community Celebration
– City of Lauderdale’s Day in the Park
– Peace Garden Neighborhood Afternoon Out with Urban Farm and Garden Alliance
Environmental Justice Lesson Plan
I have a personal interest and passion for environmental justice¹ and was excited to contribute during my service at CRWD. A coworker and I wrote and finalized a lesson plan focused on environmental justice that connects to the work of CRWD and includes a set of resources for the summer intern program at the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center, housed in the Science Museum of Minnesota. This lesson plan was framed as a “mock trial” style activity where students were able to better understand the meaning and importance of environmental justice through the trial setting.
I have been able to work on the creation of a handful of outreach resources (flyers, ads, displays) which include the “H2O on the Go” education display, a “Smart Salting” ad in Greening Frogtown newspaper, and a newly updated flyer with information about the different grant opportunities CRWD provides. Within these resources I was able to utilize some of the communication methods from the literature review, including using plain language, and incorporating more images instead of large amounts of text.
I had a great experience through the MN GreenCorps program with Capitol Region Watershed District and gained many invaluable professional skills in a wide variety of areas. I look forward continuing my work with the fantastic team here at CRWD when I transition my role to Outreach Assistant in September.
As Outreach Assistant for the Communications and Engagement Division I will continue to work with community organizations and events, among other projects. I’m excited to finalize the H20 on the Go display and bring it to events later this year.
¹Environmental justice “is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Source: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice