Richfield Community Outreach

field_kids.pngThree Rivers has been making a major effort to bring more of our exceptional recreation and environmental education programs into first tier communities. This is very important for children and seniors in communities like Richfield, Hopkins, Robbinsdale and Brooklyn Center, who have traditionally had less access to our great facilities and services. Creative local partnerships have significantly improved access to our parks, trails and programs. As examples in the City of Richfield:

  • A Taft Park Expo was held in August, and included free recreational and naturalist activities, including our portable zip line (experienced by yours truly!), climbing wall, live animals, fishing, and games.  
  • Our Outdoor Recreation staff conducts fishing clinics at Taft Park each summer in one of the cleanest lakes in the metro area.    
  • A Paddle Share Station (self-serve kayak and Stand Up Paddle Board rentals) was recently installed at Taft Lake, along with a unique adaptive boat launch to open more opportunities for those with mobility challenges - like our wounded veterans who participate in water sports.  
  • Our Community Engagement staff have also provided programming to Lifeworks in the Richfield Community Center -- Lifeworks provides programming for adults with disabilities.  Our staff and Parks on the Go van also attend the Vehicle Day each June.      
  • Several Richfield schools have worked with Gale Woods Farm and Baker Near Wilderness Settlement for outdoor education programs.

We have also worked closely with nonprofit organizations and city staff to reach more people of color, especially those children and adults who might not have had access to Three Rivers programs in the past. As examples in the Richfield area:girl.png

  • We serve numerous Richfield residents through our Park Partners relationship with the Bloomington Schools Office of Educational Equity, since that is where many of the students and families live. That program includes ongoing programs and contacts from Richardson Nature Center with students and families in the school district that come from a variety of backgrounds, including Asian, African American, Latino, and Somali.   
  • Similarly, we also serve many Richfield residents through our work with the Dar Al Farooq Muslim Center – many of the kids and families active in Dar Al Farooq live in Richfield.  
  • Our Community Engagement staff regularly work with such cultural affinity groups as: Kwestrong (Native American Women), Outdoor Afro, and Outdoor Latino.  These groups not only serve Richfield, but also the entire metro area. Over the past year, we made a particular effort to expand our offerings to these groups to include winter activities. As a result, all of these groups attended our first ever Nordic Ski Opener, and the Kwestrong group started their own ski club.
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Hopkins Community Outreach

field_kids.pngThree Rivers has significantly expanded our exceptional recreation and environmental education programs into first tier communities. This is very important for children and seniors in communities like Hopkins, Richfield, Robbinsdale and Brooklyn Center, who have traditionally had less access to our great facilities and services. As Board Chair, I have championed creative local partnerships to significantly improve access to our parks, trails and programs. As examples in the City of Hopkins:

  • Lowry Nature Center in Carver Park works with Hopkins Community Education - specifically with their SMARTS program. The SMARTS program is a targeted learning program to provide additional instruction for students needing support in reading, writing and math with the objective of eliminating the achievement gap for students of color.  Lowry staff spends time in the school with SMARTS students throughout the year, and then host an open house event at the nature center with students and families. This fall, we begin the third year of this fabulous program.
  • Our Silverwood staff regularly provides outreach programs at the Hopkins library for teens, including art and nature education topics. We’re always looking for ways to reach this age group, and this has been a good initiative we hope to expand in other areas.
  • Senior Explorer Camps have been offered at the Hopkins Activity Center for the past three years, including three days of outdoor activities this past summer. Other communities are now being considered for similar programs.
  • We’ve been regulars at the Hopkins Raspberry Festival in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and again in 2018. 
  • Hopkins serves as a trail hub for the southwest metro area, so we were at the Hopkins Kick-Off/Bike to Work Day at out jointly run Hopkins Depot in 2017 and 2018, and we previously conducted regional trail pop-up engagements on Hopkins trails in 2014 and 2015.
  • We also brought our Parks on the Go van to the Hopkins/Minnetonka Summer Playgrounds Celebration in 2016, and participated in the Supervalu Health Fair in 2015 and 2017, and Cargill Earthday Showcase in spring 2017.

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Environmental School Partnerships

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Three Rivers has been expanding our outreach with schools to help bring natural resources education opportunities to more of our next generations. As just one example, Scenic Heights Elementary in Minnetonka, has a three-year ecological project underway to restore a two-acre area back to more of its native habitat. The project is being funded by the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District, and you can follow the progress of the project on the school website and Facebook page. Scenic Heights contracted with Wetland Habitat Restorations to complete the project, because they are committed to using great care and sensitivity when keeping some existing native trees during the restoration project, allowing us to continue to offer our winter and spring programming with Scenic Heights Elementary, Groveland Elementary and Clear Springs Elementary.

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Success Academy partnership

Success_Academy.jpgOur Success Academy partnership in east Bloomington is a great example of the difference we are making in the communities we serve. Richardson Nature Center is partnering with Success Academy, a K-6 STEM school (science, technology, engineering and math) that primarily serves East African immigrant families. Located in the Dar Al-Farooq Youth and Family Center, our naturalists provide environmental education for their science curriculum, offering such activities as measuring wind speed, identifying plants, and estimating the ages of large trees. Students even collected and boiled sap to use their homemade syrup on pancakes! Most recently, we hosted an overnight camping trip at Baker Park Reserve, where students had a blast with archery, nature hikes, swimming, setting up camp, and much more.

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Silverwood OnStage

06102015_SilverwoodOnStage15-1140x760.jpgSilverwood Park receives grants from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) for our07102015_SilverwoodOnStage01_resized-1140x760.jpg Silverwood OnStage Season. Funding for the grant is provided by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. Our four month Silverwood OnStage season includes concerts, dance, performance arts, puppetry and film presentations between June and September. Be sure to check out one of these excellent productions! More information is available on this Sliverwood OnStage weblink.

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Camp leader training & gear library

camping.jpgThree Rivers has kicked off a training and gear lending program to make camping experiences more accessible by equipping educators, youth workers, and community leaders to lead their own overnight trips. In partnership with Wilderness Inquiry, our first hands-on training was held at Baker Park Reserve, and covered trip preparation, camp set up and takedown, kitchen set up and outdoor cooking, fire building, and risk management and safety. Once leaders go through the training, they can reserve a group campsite and camping gear (tents and cooking gear) for groups of up to 50 people. Our first training was attended be leaders from Success Academy, a school within Dar Al-Farooq Community Center in East Bloomington, KWESTRONG Indigenous Women’s Wellness, and Special Olympics. We're planning an additional training with MobileHope Dayton and Outdoor Latino Minnesota.

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Parks on the Go!

outreach.jpgOur Parks on the Go van, so generously provided to us by the Three Rivers Park District Foundation visits more than 200 community events every year, bringing our services to people in their own communities. As a couple of examples from one week, we met bike commuters in Hopkins during Bike to Work Week, and provided them with coffee, bike lights, and information about Three Rivers.

That same week, we met over 300 people at the Spring Splash event in Wayzata, where various organizations came together to provide activities and information related to Wayzata Bay and surrounding communities. This photo shows one of our seasonal staffers assisting children with a crayon rubbing art activity.

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Fishing and archery outreach

imgres.jpgOur Outdoor Recreation School is using a DNR grant to engage youth and adults from underrepresented populations in conservation sports like in fishing and hunting. As examples, we hosted a River Festival and Outdoor Extravaganza at Coon Rapids Dam (soon to be Mississippi Gateway Regional Park) highlighting archery with brand new equipment, and sending youth away with 200 free fishing poles at this gathering and other fishing camps this past summer! We also expanded ongoing archery classes at this Regional Park with new targets, bows and arrows. At Baker Near-Wilderness Settlement, we have added archery equipment and new ladder stands, and are hosting mentored archery hunts for youth. As additional outreach examples, a new fishing club focuses on youth in inner-tier suburbs, clinics introduce fly fishing to individuals, and free ice fishing programs celebrate Minnesota’s heritage and love of winter.

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Nine Mile Creek Trail is open!

IMG_0096.JPGOur Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail is now officially open! With completion of the Edina segment, the entire trail stretches 15 miles from downtown Hopkins, through Minnetonka, Edina, and Richfield – all cities that I represent on the Three Rivers Board. The views along the creek are spectacular, and the trail finally links all these communities to our entire regional trail network. It truly is a jewel in the Three Rivers system.

The multi-year, complex project presented significant challenges, since it’s always difficult to buildIMG_0130.JPG a trail through fully developed communities – both engineering and political. As you ride or walk the Nine Mile Creek Trail, you’ll see how some of those challenges were overcome: more than two miles of scenic boardwalks through the protected wetlands, integrated screening for neighborhoods, two bridges over major highways.

IMG_0141.JPGAs a special shout-out, Edina Mayor Jim Hovland was a tireless advocate for the project. It’s not an exaggeration to say that without his help, and that of his city council colleagues and staff, this trail could not have been built.

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Connecting Nine Mile Trail with Hyland Reserve

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Three Rivers is working with the cities of Edina and Bloomington on a regional trail study along the CP Rail line running north-south through those communities and adjacent to the east side of Hyland Lake Park Reserve. The study will identify details of a future route alignment between our new Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail and Hyland Lake Park Reserve, and will eventually initiate a greater master plan effort covering the entirety of a future north-south regional trail corridor.

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John Gunyou
Three Rivers Parks Board Chair