Douglas County Kids Groundwater Festival and Multi County Outreach

Final report for YENC21-156

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2021: $4,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Manager:
Jessica Albertsen
Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District
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Project Information


Attendees of this event will be educated on the best management practices and concepts for soil health, water quality, erosion control, and benefits of sustainable agriculture. 

To accommodate all the youth in attendance, these concepts and practices will be taught to multiple learning styles with hands on activities and visual aids. Overall, it will cover the three concepts of sustainable agriculture by highlighting economy impact, career opportunities and importance of community involvement and environmental impact. The take home message is to intensify and embrace long term stewardship of our nations land, air, water, natural resources and renewable energies.

Project Objectives:
  1. Increase youth knowledge on career opportunities and best management practices related to sustainable agriculture.
  2. Provide students with skills that allow them to continue learning and expand their horizons outside of the classroom setting with sustainable agriculture resources.
  3. Demonstrate and encourage hands on learning opportunities related to sustainable agriculture, and all the aspects of the water cycle.
  4. Increase awareness related to environmental learning and sustainable agriculture.
  5. Maximize the amount of information to include a wide variety of presenters.
  6. Share project results in education and outreach section of annual newsletter, public meetings, school and county websites and social media.

Educational & Outreach Activities

3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 On-farm demonstrations
3 Published press articles, newsletters
15 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

4,500 Youth
2,500 Parents
10 Educators
5 Other adults
Education/outreach description:

When this grant was applied for, there were a lot of educational tools and field day "props" that were requested to expand our current programs, and upgrade some of the outdated materials. To date, the items bought have done just that. They have been used at two field days one of which was at a farm site. With the items purchased so far, they have been used for 10 presentations totaling roughly 196 youth and roughly 32 adults which included both teachers, adults, and parents. 

This newsletter was put together by Douglas SWCD Staff and distributed to over 3,100 households and landowners in the county. It includes a highlight about the SARE grant project: 2022_Winter_Newsletter_final

Update: A year into this grant, we were able to expand our outreach efforts both with adults and with the youth. It has made an impact with well over 4,500 youth, and 2,500 adults participating! These numbers and participants blew us out of the water! This is from a wide variety of Conservation field days, Water festivals, Nature Days, Conservation tours, Bus tours, and our big Youth Outdoor Activity Day. 

The Water festivals, and conservation days/ nature days are set up as rotational events where the students stay at a station for about 20 minutes then move with their classes to the next station. Every station has something hands-on to do, learn about, or eat which helps the students comprehend the concepts and lessons being taught! 

Conservation Field Days are set up similarly, with guest speakers but also a "vendor" booth area they can walk through. This was with our partnership agencies that used the materials and education resources to display the concepts or show the participants what concepts they are trying to get across. 

Youth Outdoor Activity Day is a day to get kids off the couch, put technology away and come explore the great outdoors. Although not everything at this event is focused on agriculture, natural resources is still a big part of it! We are able to still have displays and information, but also give kids hands on demonstrations of things they can do outside (for all ages) and the event is completely free to everyone taking part! For example the Egg Display purchased through this grant was at our "Wings and Things" booth to show the kids the various size eggs that some of our common birds lay. It also gave the kids a chance to compare egg sizes and try to match what bird photo, beak photo, and wing photo matched it.

Over all this grant was a huge blessing to our education program, and I can't wait to see how it grows and expands in the future! 

This was a flyer that was for a spotlight donor/sponsor for one of our events where the items purchased with the grant were listed, and also how they were used:
Flyer Front
Flyer Front
List of items bought with grant that were used at this event
Flyer Back


Learning Outcomes

500 Youth reporting change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness
Key changes:
  • Water Quality

  • Soil Health

  • Conservation Practices

  • Sustainable Agriculture Practices

Results and discussion:


This image is a few of the items purchased from the grant for one of the displays/ presentations on "Edible Infiltration" It broke down the various soil horizons and soil classes for the students. The food activity that went with this presentation was crushed/non crushed chocolate crispy cereal which represented soil and milk which represented the water. The kids partnered up, one crushed their cereal to represent plowed soil and the other just dumped it in a cup to represent the good healthy soil. The milk was dumped quickly over the cereal and the students had to observe what they learned, how fast the water infiltrated through, and to determine if their predictions were correct. 

Not pictured but also used at this event was the "table top" rain fall simulator, root display, and magnifier glasses all purchased with this grant. 

Overall, these displays and hands on demonstration tools were amazing and very helpful for teaching! The students really enjoyed and it was a blast to see their eyes light up and how excited they got when they were right with their predictions! I believe the impact this had on them was life long. A few went home and told their parents to start planting cover crops in their fields. 

Project Outcomes

280 Number of youth considering a career in sustainable agriculture
1 Grant received that built upon this project
15 New working collaborations
Increased organizational support to explore and teach sustainable ag:
Explanation for change in organizational support to explore and teach sustainable ag:

By getting this grant, it helped me to expand my multi county outreach efforts in sustainable agriculture, water quality and soil health for both the youth in the community as well as the adult learners.

Parents adopting sustainable agriculture practices:
Sustainable Agriculture practices parents adopted:

Due to the generosity of this grant, and being able to buy and provide more materials for field days, the increase in sustainable agriculture has started taking off in the community. More and more farmers and landowners are coming in to the office and requesting program information on cover crops, no till practices, shelter belts, field windbreaks and ag water quality certification programs. 

It has also been a lot of fun to see the kids from the various events at other events and trying to teach their parents about what they learned at the various festivals they attended. It has completely blown me out of the water at how much the kids have learned and retain information wise just based on having hands on materials they can see, touch, and help them relate better to real life experiences. 


Thank you very much for this opportunity! I really appreciate the chance to get my students, out of the classroom and having them learn more about soil health, water quality and sustainable agriculture in a way that it will hopefully impact their life decisions and for the future!

Working in a Agriculture dominant field we are the boots on the ground for conservation creating partnerships through our programs and practices and to encourage preservation of our natural resources for future generations. With programs/grants like this, it just helps knock down the barriers and provide the education resources we need for the events and to help better leave a lasting impression. Change is scary for some, but if it is presented in a format that is easily understood, the impact is life long.

Thank you again for allowing us this opportunity and chance to help change the mindset of agriculture! 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.