HomeGrantsIntroducing the Impact Goal grant recipients

Introducing the Impact Goal grant recipients

As the last few weeks have shown, rallying around an idea—a new vision for the world—can be immensely powerful. It’s a shared vision for a better Minnesota—one with safe drinking water, carbon-neutrality, and sustainable land use statewide—around which the IonE community will rally between 2019 and 2022. Today, we’re proud to welcome six groups of researchers to join us in bringing that vision to life: the recipients of our first ever Impact Goal grants.

These $50,000 grants have been awarded to projects whose teams hail from the Twin Cities and Duluth. Importantly, these groups aren’t just composed of academics: Each includes a community partner with an intimate understanding of both the project’s cultural context and the issues it hopes to solve.

“None of these goals can be reached unless there’s broad buy-in and engagement,” says Linda Kingery, who served as a liaison from University of Minnesota Extension to help narrow the field from 34 submitted proposals to a final six recipients. She notes that many of the selected projects will have effects across greater Minnesota. “It’s important that the University serves the whole state, and it’s really great when University researchers can turn their faces to the questions that folks across rural communities have.”

IonE Director Jessica Hellmann agrees. “These projects are outstanding examples of collaborative research moving the needle on sustainability in our state, region, and the world.” The selected proposals span all three Impact Goals, and several highlight the interconnectedness of environmental issues by touching more than one. 

Funding will be made available to the award recipients on July 1, and a celebratory gathering is planned for the fall. Curious to learn about our 13 finalists? Read their full abstracts

The recipients of the 2020 Impact Goal grants are:

Can green bonds finance greenhouse gas mitigation in the Minnesota dairy industry? Susanna Gibbons, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; Jennifer Schmitt, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota; Nathaniel Springer, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota

IonE Impact Goal Manager, Fred Rose: “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector is a challenging problem. One of the barriers for farmers is making changes economically feasible. This proposal creates a new financing mechanism for dairy farmers that will allow them to make changes to their operations that will reduce emissions, and provide another source of income. Green bonds are an established finance mechanism in other sectors, and this proposal matches that financial innovation with the Minnesota dairy industry.”

Community Land and Food Gatherings: Relationship-based translation and application of ecosystem service research to urban agriculture land use and management in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota Nicolas Jelinski, CFANS, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; Mary Rogers, CFANS, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; K. Valentine Cadieux, Environmental Studies Program, Sustainability Program, Hamline University; Gaston Small, College of Arts and Sciences, University of St. Thomas

IonE Impact Goal Manager, Fred Rose: “Recent events have shown us the lack of resilience and equity in the Minnesota food chain. This proposal aims to improve one aspect of that issue by creating and translating research into work with communities and farmers in urban agriculture.”

Forest Carbon Markets:  Empowering Access for Economically Marginal Landowners Christopher Wright, Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth; Paul Sandstrom, Laurentian Resource Conservation and Development; Marissa Schmitz, CFANS, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minnesota Forest Resources Council; Forrest Fleischman, CFANS, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; John Beckwith, Minnesota Association of RC&D Councils, Inc.

IonE Impact Goal Manager, Fred Rose: “One of the challenges of managing natural resources sustainably is figuring out how to pay for it. That’s especially a challenge for small landowners. This proposal directly addresses that problem for non-industrial forest owners and could provide a way forward for increasing the amount of carbon sequestered by these forests.”

Northeastern Minnesota farmers grow climate-smart trees for forest adaptation and mitigation Julie Etterson, Department of Biology, University of Minnesota Duluth, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota; Briana Gross, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota Duluth; David Abasz, Northeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, University of Minnesota Extension

IonE Impact Goal Manager, Fred Rose: “Climate change will continue to have an increasing impact on the northern forest. Current tree species will not always be the best ones in the future. This requires a new set of seedlings, which is a challenge in many ways. This team directly tackles that challenge by creating a network of growers for climate-forward seedlings for future forests.”

Social science and community engagement for drinking water protection in Greater Minnesota Mae Davenport, CFANS, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; Gene-Hua Crystal Ng, CSE, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

IonE Impact Goal Manager, Fred Rose: “Studies have shown potential contamination to drinking water in wells across Minnesota. Despite that, many well owners are complacent about their response. Behavior change is a big part of many environmental issues and this proposal tackles that problem head on.”

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Working Ranch Dave Wilsey, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; Jon Houle, Department of Natural Resources, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Molly Zins, Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, University of Minnesota Extension; Susan Beaulieu, University of Minnesota Extension Regional Office – Brainerd

IonE Impact Goal Manager, Fred Rose: “Understanding and demonstrating different ways of knowing is an important part of creating a sustainable world. Knowing can come from deep knowledge within the community. This project is a great example of trying to develop ways to use that knowledge and subsequently create a demonstration site that is an integral part of the community. It could have wide applicability.” 

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