Great River Greening inspires, engages, and leads local communities in conserving and caring for the land and water that enrich our lives.


We are:


Our grassroots work creates enduring commitment to caring for healthy lands and waters in local communities and restores wonder in the habitat that surrounds them.


Rolled up shirtsleeves, dirt under our nails, we work side-by-side with nearly 40,000 volunteers to protect, restore and care for Minnesota’s natural heritage – 17,500 acres and counting. Through active participation and acquired expertise, volunteers become advocates with a deep connection to the land and water.

Active in Partnerships

Leading collaborative partnerships with volunteers, communities, businesses and landowners ignites a shared passion for improving, enhancing and restoring our lands and waters.

On-the-Ground Experts

Experienced, committed ecologists apply state-of-the-art practices to restoration projects, sharing skill and knowledge with landowners, volunteers, students and at-risk youth, and helping the next generation discover opportunities in environmental sciences with a confidence and connection to the world.

At Great River Greening, we have ecological expertise in natural resource and water quality management, and in community building. We focus our work in locations and on activities that offer conservation impact, ecosystem services, and community benefits. Our projects include:

  • Native planting designs for developed and natural areas.
  • Restoration and stabilization of shorelands and ravines.
  • Ecological inventories and restoration management plans.
  • Plantings of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses.
  • Restoration and management activities, including exotic species removal, prairie seed collection and sowing, and prescribed burns.
  • Conservation practices on farmland for water quality.

Link: The Use of Herbicides at Great River Greening

 Restoring Land, Water and Wonder


What does your organization do?

Great River Greening leads community-based restoration of prairies, forests, and waters. Our restoration efforts help preserve natural areas, protect clean air and water, and increase urban residents’ access to healthy natural areas and sustainable open space. Working alongside our ecologists, over 40,000 volunteers have helped restore over 17,500 acres of natural habitat. One way we inspire community stewardship is to hold 6-8 community events each spring and fall as well as numerous smaller maintenance projects throughout the year. We also have programs to train volunteer supervisors, educate landowners, and expose at-risk teens to natural areas and environmental science careers.
Our projects include:

  • Native planting designs for developed and natural areasEcological inventories and restoration management plans for natural areas
  • Plantings of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses
  • Restoration and management activities, including exotic species removal, prairie seed collection and sowing, and prescribed burns.

Where do you work?

We focus our work in locations and on activities that offer conservation impact, ecosystem services, and community benefits. While we started in Saint Paul, we now have projects throughout Minnesota, including oak savanna restoration north of Saint Paul to Wright and Morrison Counties.We choose our projects based upon conservation need, feasibility, and community benefits. Current priorities include critical lands and waters in the metro area, endangered habitat in the Anoka Sand Plain region of east-central Minnesota, conserving water quality in our state-designated wild and scenic rivers, and collaborating with farmers in agricultural watersheds.

How can my firm or workplace get involved?

Businesses, families, church and community groups, and individuals are all welcome to volunteer at our public events. These are listed each spring and fall on our website. We also partner with companies on employee-only events, although these require modest support for refreshments, and organization. Great River Greening staff would enjoy any opportunity to talk with your business or community group.

How were you started?

Great River Greening was founded in 1995 as part of the St. Paul Foundation to restore the downtown St. Paul riverfront. In 1999, it incorporated as its own nonprofit and now works throughout the entire Twin Cities metro area and beyond to mobilize community volunteers to restore our native landscapes.

Do you offer consulting services?

While, we do have contracts with private landowners, Great River Greening takes strides to differentiate our body of work from that of for-profit firms. Below are some key differentiating features:Great River Greening projects:

  • Are true to our mission: to secure the legacy of Minnesota land and water through community-based restoration, stewardship and partnership.
  • Have an element of community engagement or partnership.
  • Have an opportunity to involve volunteers whenever feasible.
  • Are on public land, involve a critical natural resource, or have the potential to be a demonstration for “best practices.”
  • Is not likely to proceed without funding support.

Who are you funded by?

Our work is funded by a variety of sources:

  • Charitable contributions from generous individuals, foundations, and businesses
  • Government sources, including the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and watershed districts and organizations
  • Cost-share or other agreements with landowners
  • Corporate Sponsors

Who do you partner with?

Greening is a respected and active participant and leader in the community, and we maintain strong connections with many partners for volunteer recruitment, youth engagement, project implementation and evaluation, and conservation planning.For volunteer recruitment, we reach out through volunteer and media websites, and we also dig deep into the community through church groups, schools, youth and community groups, other nonprofits, employee groups, Rotary and similar clubs, and Boy and Girl Scout troops, among others.For our youth programs, we have ongoing relationships with schools and youth groups that serve minority and at-risk youth, and will broaden these relationships for the expanded green jobs and service learning programs in this proposal.

Project implementation is always in partnership with private or public landowners; the latter includes parks departments of cities and counties, the state Department of Natural Resources, and soil and water conservation districts (SWCD). The evaluation component is particularly important for our water quality objectives, and we will work with the SWCDs to assess these parameters at the appropriate and feasible scale.

Finally, we participate in or lead strategic alliances and partnerships that significantly advance mutual conservation and stewardship goals. These include Big Rivers Metro Habitat Partnership, the Metro Conservation Corridors Partnership, and the St. Croix Blufflands and Floodplains partners.

What are some ways I can get involved?

  • Volunteer with Great River Greening in spring and fall.
  • Join the ranks of our volunteer supervisors.
  • Change a young person’s life by serving as a community mentor
  • Talk to your company about a corporate Great River Greening volunteer event.
  • Give a tax-deductible donation to Great River Greening online, by check or through your United Way Workplace Giving.
  • Donate your skill and talent!
  • Join our Great River Greening Board.