Funding Allocated for Educating Minnesotans about Impacts of a Changing Climate

Environment and Natural Resources Trust FunWe are excited and honored by today’s news that Governor Dayton has signed the bill into law appropriating $29 million from Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (“Trust Fund”) to 71 individual projects around the state, including $325,000 to the Will Steger Foundation for our Educating Minnesotans about Potential Impacts of a Changing Climate Project! For more information on the other projects and the process please read the press release.

Our project is based on the premise that climate change has and will have profound effects on Minnesota’s economy, agriculture, tourism, and natural resources, as well as our cultural identity.  The story of climate change has been told at a national level, but research shows that effective climate change education and behavior change happens when the issue is made local and relevant, thereby resonating with an audience.  Within our state we are rich in experts who can share their knowledge and describe these changes, in addition to stories of solutions. In order to build a meaningful conservation ethic and to change behavior, however, individuals need to develop more than their knowledge base.  In person, ongoing peer support and specific and measureable action items are important and best introduced at the community level, through public forums, in classrooms, and in the media.  In addition, recent research has shown that although a large percentage of Minnesotan’s acknowledge that climate change is happening and human induced, they are not likely to share this with their family, friends or community members.  Development of the confidence and competence of Minnesotan’s to talk to their communities about climate change should be an important outcome of any forum or outreach.

Educating Minnesotans about the Potential Impacts of a Changing Climate responds to the urgent need to share the knowledge of local experts and the stories of individuals’ experiences to increase climate literacy and change awareness and behaviors of Minnesotans.

Recognizing the power of media for sharing stories and the importance of personal contact to reach a broader, diverse audience, as well as to highlight local resources and establish behavior norms, the Project deliverables include :

1) a series of 12 public forums that includes municipal officials and 2-4 educator workshops that highlight local experts and resources and build capacity;

2) establishment and ongoing support of peer groups focused on telling “climate stories” and behavior change to mitigate climate change;

3) educational materials, including a new television production produced in collaboration with Twin Cities Public Television (tpt), short video segments, and a website.

We look forward to working with communities and partners around the state to hear how climate change is impacting Minnesotans and to develop and support local and relevant solutions.  Stay tuned for updates when our work gets started July 1!

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