HomeNewsTwo collaborative UMN projects shine at the 2020 Environmental Initiative Awards

Two collaborative UMN projects shine at the 2020 Environmental Initiative Awards

The Minneapolis-based Environmental Initiative recognizes people and projects working towards a healthier environment, a prosperous economy, and an equitable society through its annual Environmental Initiative Awards. This year, we’re proud to extend our congratulations to two collaborative projects with University of Minnesota ties – the CREATE Initiative and Kawe Gidaa Naanaagadawendaamin Manoomin (First We Should Consider Manoomin) – that have received these distinguished awards. 

The CREATE Initiative was recognized in the category of Environmental Innovation. Co-led by Kate Derickson and Bonnie Keeler, CREATE’s goal is to provide environmental leaders with the tools and education needed to understand the complexities of historical processes and their effect on contemporary green investments. In one of its projects, the initiative brings together community-based practitioners and academic researchers in a Policy Think Tank, a group dedicated to developing new tools for realizing socially just environmental futures.

Engaging community members in a different way — as partners in the research process — allows the CREATE Initiative to co-create tangible resources that are valuable to the communities they work with and to appropriate University resources more broadly to give back to partner communities,” wrote the category evaluation team. 

First We Should Consider Manoomin received an honorable mention (scroll down) for its collaborative work among tribes and intertribal organizations and UMN faculty, staff, and students. With a UMN research team and a range of partners, the project supports wild rice conservation and restoration throughout Minnesota and the western Great Lakes through tribal research needs and perspectives. The project’s work intends to address historical inequities in order to remedy the disproportionate ecological degradation of tribal communities.

IonE is proud to have supported both of these teams during their time as Grand Challenge research projects. Congratulations to both teams and all of the partners – and thank you for your dedication to the environment and meaningful collaboration.


Grace Abifarin is a student communications assistant at the Institute on the Environment.


Grace Abifarin is a senior majoring in Marketing and Supply Chain and Operations Management and minoring in Leadership at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.


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