In the last few weeks, I’ve been developing a collaborative program with the University of Minnesota that is nowhere near finalized but I’m still excited about it.

The Honors Program at the UofM requires students to complete a certain number of “Honors Experiences” each semester, and these can be anything from a specific course to a research experience to volunteering. If the student is committing a sizable amount of time (at least 45 hours) and doing substantive work, they can make a case for counting their experience towards these graduation requirements. As a graduate of the Honors Program, I knew that there was some serious untapped potential here. Honors students tend to be motivated, self-starting individuals with diverse interests and skill sets. By talking to them, we could reach an audience we don’t normally work with. In order to make this program effective, though, we need project ideas that interest students and meet the program requirements. A variety of projects has been discussed, but I’m most excited for our potential Centennial project.

To celebrate the NPS Centennial next year, we are hoping to pull together a group of students who will conduct research and create an exhibit on the history of the Twin Cities in the last 100 years. They could use any variety of media and do research in whatever fields are most interesting to them, and we would be able to share their discoveries with the public. Most exciting, though, is the potential of this work to spark conversations about the future of the park. Has water quality in the park gotten better or worse in the last 100 years? What can we do to ensure it improves in the next 100 years? How has green space in the Twin Cities changed in the last 100 years? How do we want it to change in the next 100 years?

Planning for the program is still very much in the works, but as the beginning of the school year approaches and students start making their way back to campus, I’m sure things will start moving forward at a quicker pace. As things change, I’ll continue posting updates to the blog.