Thursday, April 28, 2016

Watershed District Wins Sustainable Saint Paul Award

By Sage Passi
We are pleased to announce that Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District was chosen to receive the Environmental Education Award for our annual festival, WaterFest, during the 2016 Sustainable Saint Paul Awards event held on Thursday, April 20, in the St. Paul City Council Chambers. The winners were chosen based upon their exceptional environmental leadership and dedication to sustainability in eleven different categories. Mayor Chris Coleman announced the winners. Debbie Meister, Sage Passi and Tracy Leavenworth accepted the award on behalf of the Watershed District.

WaterFest is Honored
Dan Bostrom, Ward 6 St Paul Councilmember, praised the
Watershed District  for its community engagement at WaterFest.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (in rear) presented the award.
Photo credit Tracy Leavenworth

Dan Bostrom, Tracy Leavenworth, Sage Passi,
Debbie Meister, Mayor Chris Coleman

WaterFest, a free family celebration of our clean lakes, now in its seventeenth year, has been evolving and growing ever since Louise Watson, the Watershed District’s former Planner and Educational Coordinator, created it as a way to offer fun opportunities for outdoor hands-on learning about clean water, wildlife and land and water conservation. Activities on and around Lake Phalen include water games, a water arcade, geocaching, native plant giveaway, passport odyssey, live animals, music, landscaping, watershed and art exhibits, Voyageur canoes, solar pontoon boat rides, canoeing and kayaking, fishing lessons and a fishing contest.

Fourth graders from St. Peter's dramatize a story about water during a ceremony at WaterFest.
Photo credit Anita Jader

WaterFest, an event for all ages, has the vision that “everyone can play a role in protecting our water resources". This tradition of bringing the community together began in 2000 and continues to evolve with the creative and energetic support of the District’s consultant, Debbie Meister. She prepares for the event year round, engaging the community, soliciting sponsors, drawing in businesses, food vendors, exhibitors, organizations, cities, partners of the Watershed, schools and many volunteers to make this collaboration a success. In 2015, 3000-4,000 people of all ages attended WaterFest.

Debbie Meister engages recycling coordinators to make WaterFest a zero waste event.
Photo credit Sage Passi
The City of St. Paul partners with WaterFest every year with various outdoor activities.
Photo credit Anita Jader

The City of St. Paul combines their “National Get Outdoors celebration with Waterfest, sponsoring fun activities including a climbing wall, jump castle, archery, arts and crafts and sailing.
It is the partnerships that make WaterFest a successful event. Each organization brings its specific expertise to the event and provides a hands-on activity or exhibit.
Sustainable Maplewood's display highlights pollinators and reducing the use of pesticides.
Photo credit Anita Jader

RWMWD education staff work with schools throughout the year to engage teachers and students in water-related issues. In 2015, staff planned and implemented multiple field trips and service-learning opportunities for over 850 students in 30 classrooms, creating customized learning experiences for each group and collaborating with additional partners in the process.

Each year, Battle Creek Elementary students tour the flow of Battle Creek to Hwy 61 near the Mississippi River, exploring neighborhood rain gardens, storm drains and the history of the creek.
 Photo credit Anita Jader

St. Peter students used their study of electrical
circuits  to create a matching game that teaches
WaterFest participants about native plants.
Photo credit Anita Jader

Sage Passi, the Watershed District Educator, says, “This public event offers an opportunity for students to showcase what they have explored and projects they have completed throughout the school year. That goes for our other partners and the rest of the audience too. Overall it’s a venue where people can interact with others and talk about what they have been working on and learning each year.

The themes and the topics in the environment are constantly changing. It’s a chance to reconnect, meet new people, get inspired, try out new things and have fun!” 

"Make a Splash!" is the theme of WaterFest this year. This event will be held at Lake Phalen on Saturday, June 4, from 11 AM - 4 PM. To learn more about WaterFest, click the links below:

The Sustainable Saint Paul Awards:
Honoring Commitments to the Environment

The Sustainable Saint Paul Awards, now in its tenth year, was created under Mayor Coleman as a way to honor individuals and organizations across Saint Paul who demonstrate a commitment to the environment. By sponsoring these awards, the Mayor encourages all residents, businesses, community groups and non-profits in Saint Paul to follow suit and implement similar projects of their own in the future.  

"The businesses, organizations and residents that are putting sustainability and innovation at the forefront are truly affecting change in our community," said Mayor Coleman. "These awards are a way for us to highlight some of those innovators and encourage continued leadership when it comes to preserving and bettering our environment here in Saint Paul.” 

“It’s vital that we all work together to make our community more resilient,” said Council President Russ Stark. “These awards allow us to highlight progress being made around Saint Paul so that others are inspired to make their own contributions to our city’s sustainability.”

Award categories range from beautification, to energy efficiency, green building design and water conservation to youth leadership and local, healthy food. Winners include the East Side Neighborhood Development Company, the Community School of Excellence’s Asian Penguins, the CHS Rainwater Reuse Team, Frogtown Park and Farm, Mississippi Market Natural Foods Coop and Growing West Side. For a full list of this year's winners, visit

 If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered,
then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.
 ~ David Sobel 
To see a video of the awards ceremony, click on the links below.


1 comment:

  1. Congratulations RWMWD! Your organization is top notch and totally deserving of this award.