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Archive for the ‘Community Partnership’ Category

17th Annual Arbor Day Celebration to be held on April 26

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU), with partners Maier Tree & Lawn and Rochester Parks & Recreation, will host the 17th Annual Arbor Day Celebration on Friday, April 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Three Links-Silver Lake Park, located at 840 7th St NE in Rochester.

The fun and free community event will feature a variety of activities and displays that will include: A tree giveaway (while supplies last), a free lunch of hot dogs, corn on the cob, chips, cookies, and soda will be provided (while supplies last), and live music from PK Mayo Trio. Tree experts will also be on hand to answer questions on tree planting and care, along with many other vendor activities and information.

Children will be able to enjoy Smokey Bear, tree medallion necklace, apple toss game, temporary tattoos, bean bag toss, and much more!

At noon, an awards ceremony will honor Rochester elementary school students who were selected as finalists of the Arbor Day poster contest, as well as this year’s overall winner, Hope Peterson, a 4th grader at Gibbs Elementary. Hope will receive a $100 Barnes & Noble gift card, her winning poster will be featured in RPU’s 2020 calendar, and a tree will be planted in her honor at Gibbs Elementary School. This year’s poster contest theme was “Trees Are Terrific…For Animals Too!”

RPU line crews will also be partnering with Rochester Parks & Recreation on a tree planting for The Right Tree in the Right Place program beginning at 8 a.m. Approximately 50 compatible trees under power lines will be planted along 36th Ave NW and 7th St NW. Tree species include Lilac Snow Dance, Crabapple Royal Rain Drops, Pear Autumn Blaze, Hawthorne Snowbird, and Red Buds.

Co-Sponsors of this year’s event include: Hy-Vee, Jim Whiting Nursery & Garden Center, Minnesota Energy Resources, Sargent’s Gardens, and Seneca Foods.

Participants include: Boys & Girls Club of Rochester, Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Olmsted County Environmental Resources, Quarry Hill Nature Center, Rochester Police Department, Rochester Public Library, Rochester Public Works, Rochester Water Reclamation Plant, Sekapp Orchard, and Zumbro Valley Audubon.

In the event of rain, the celebration will be moved to Rochester Community & Technical College’s Field House.

About Rochester Public Utilities

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 55,000 customers. Water customers number more than 40,000. RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive. Current initiatives include photovoltaic offerings, wind energy, energy and water efficient equipment, and electric vehicle charging.


Call for Nominations: 2018 Environmental Achievement Awards

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) and the Olmsted County Environmental Commission are calling for nominations for the 2018 Environmental Achievement Awards. The awards honor individuals, organizations, schools and businesses that have made a significant environmental contribution over the past year in Rochester or Olmsted County.

Award categories include: climate change, education, renewables, sustainable food production, conservation, energy, water, and other.

Since 1992, the awards have recognized the positive environmental impact of over 100 Olmsted County and Rochester community members and groups.

To submit a nomination or to see a list of past recipients, go to Completed nominations are due by Friday, October 5, 2018 to Anthony Wittmer (


About Rochester Public Utilities

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 50,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 39,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include photovoltaic offerings, wind energy, energy and water efficient equipment, and electric vehicle charging.



Hear what RPU’s GM Mark Kotschevar has to say about his participation in Project Climate Smart Municipalities

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Environmental Achievement Awards call for nominations

Thursday, September 15th, 2011


ROCHESTER, MN— Olmsted County and Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) are seeking nominations for their annual Environmental Achievement Awards. These awards are given to individuals, organizations, schools, and businesses that have made a significant contribution to environmental quality in Olmsted County. Categories available for nomination include: renewable efforts, conservation, energy, water, agriculture, education, and other.


The awards were developed in 1992 to recognize individuals and groups that are making Olmsted County a more sustainable community through innovative programs and practices that demonstrate environmental leadership.


In 2010, there were nine recipients of an Environmental Achievement Award. The recipients were:


·         Rochester Community & Technical College

To reduce stormwater runoff volumes and pollution from parking areas, RCTC constructed designed and constructed an “Eco-Lot” in their parking lot expansion on the west side of their facilities. The Eco-Lot, which accommodates all of their stormwater on site, features bioswales, rain gardens, infiltration basins, and native landscaping. The lot is also pedestrian friendly and contains signage that educates students and visitors about the need to manage stormwater runoff and the benefits of the various design features utilized in the Eco-Lot.


·         Rochester Regional Science Fair

Under the direction of Roger Larsen and Karen Sabatke, the Regional Science Fair has supported science projects that explore renewable energy, water and energy conservation, pollution prevention, and sustainable resource use. The value of these science projects has been recognized with awards from the Southeast Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Team, Izaak Walton League, and Ricoh Sustainable Development Partner program.


·         Dave Moehnke

Through his volunteer work with Quarry Hill Nature Center, Dave Moehnke has used the monarch butterfly program to help students understand the complexities of ecology. With students, Mr. Moehnke has assisted in monarch larva monitoring research each summer and fall migration studies. Mr. Moehnke has engaged students in real hands-on science, instilling strong science skills and fostering interest in helping researchers as citizen scientists.


·         Rochester Volunteer Tree Inventory Team

Lisa Peterson and Don Morrison spearhead the group of citizens and citizen foresters that assisted the Rochester Parks Department in gathering tree data from both public and private lands. Their work will be used to assess the value and vulnerability of the urban forest as well as to develop forest management strategies.


·         Help Make Rochester A Litter Bit Better

Mark St. Peter and Craig Wentworth were instrumental in organizing the Litter Bit Better program in Rochester. Since its initiation 4 years ago, nearly 12,500 volunteers have collected over 50 tons of litter and recyclables. With the support of Mayor Brede, the Rochester Public Works Department, RNeighbors, and others, the program has continued to be very successful in engaging volunteers in an annual city-wide litter clean-up program.


·         Ruthann Yaeger

Ruthann Yaeger has been a lifelong volunteer in many conservation programs in Olmsted County. Organizations that she is active in include Friends of Oxbow Park, Friends of Chester Woods Park, Zumbro Valley Audubon Society, Minnesota Master Naturalists Program, Prairie Smoke Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts, and the Olmsted County Parks Commission.


·         John Marshall Science Social Services Club

Students at John Marshall undertook a school-wide project to reduce their school’s carbon footprint. This included producing and airing three popular videos, including one on vampire energy. The students also helped secure grant funding to install a cover on the JM pool as a way to conserve energy.


·         Mayo Clinic

In 2010 Mayo clinic installed the largest solar array (462 panels, rated at 145 kW) in Southeastern Minnesota on their Damon Parking garage. On a sunny day, at peak output, the panels provide all the power required for the Damon Ramp (lighting, elevators, heating and cooling of stairwells) and feed excess energy into the electrical grid. In addition to the solar project, three raingardens were constructed to capture and naturally filter water running off of their lawns and parking lots. The attractive and functional raingardens are located in three separate locations on the Mayo Medical Campus providing and each demonstrates for employees and visitors.


·         Mike & Roxanne Schlasner

Mike and Roxanne Schlasner have long been advocates for the preservation and restoration of natural resources in Olmsted County and Southeastern Minnesota. In recent years, they have been active supporters of the protection of the Decorah Edge groundwater recharge areas in Olmsted County and are active volunteers at Oxbow Park and the Weaver Dunes Scientific and Natural Area.

Completed nominations are due by October 21st to either Stephanie Humphrey at or Lori Collins at To access the nomination form, or for more information about the Environmental Achievement Awards visit


The awards will be presented at an evening program on January 26, 2012 at the Rochester Golf & Country Club.



About Rochester Public Utilities


As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 45,000 customers. Water customers number more than 34,000. RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive. Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.





Rochester High School Group Honored with International Youth Philanthropy Award

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011





DATE:                   March 10, 2011


FOR RELEASE: Immediate


CONTACT:          Michael Nilsen                                                     John Skendall      

Vice President, Public Affairs                            Assistant, Public Affairs

(425) 890-6628                                                    (800) 666-3863, ext. 445


Rochester High School Group Honored with

International Youth Philanthropy Award  


(ARLINGTON, Va.) –The Minnesota Student Energy Project, a group created by students to raise awareness of energy conservation and reduce energy consumption at their high school, is the recipient of the 2011 Changing Our World/Simms Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, Ages 5-17, presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).


The award, named after AFP co-founder William R. Simms and sponsored by Changing Our World, recognizes service by an individual who demonstrates outstanding commitment to the community through direct financial support, development of charitable programs, volunteering and leadership in philanthropy. The Minnesota Student Energy Project (MNSEP) will receive the honor on March 21, 2011, at the Awards for Philanthropy Banquet during AFP’s 48th International Conference on Fundraising in Chicago.


“We are truly excited about this recognition and promise to continue to strive to be the next generation taking the first step,” said Michael Allen, CEO of MNSEP and a senior at Mayo High School in Rochester, Minn. “We owe that to our future.”

In 2008, three students from Mayo High School—Patrick Allen, Ian Cameron and Tom Currier—came together to discuss how to reduce electrical consumption and ultimately decided to raise money to install solar panels for their school. They started by asking for spare change in coffee cans and evolved to holding fundraisers, participating in arts programs and talking with community groups, including the board of directors for Rochester Public Utilities (RPU). RPU offered to support the young men and helped the project receive a $75,000 grant from the American Public Power Association.


The work of the students involved in the project resulted in a 5.88 kilowatt solar energy system installed in their school. With less energy needed from traditional power sources, more than 55,000 pounds of carbon have been saved to date, and the project has been praised by former Governor Tim Pawlenty.


“The commitment and dedication of these young men and women to both their school and the environment is extraordinary and is an example of the difference we can all make through the power of philanthropy,” said Chris Watson, vice chairman of Changing Our World.


To continue their work, the students formed a nonprofit corporation, the Minnesota Student Energy Project (MNSEP) and a succession plan that will ensure it will have a lasting impact. Numerous students are now involving in raising money and increasing awareness of energy consumption and alternative resources, with more than $136,000 having been raised so far towards a goal of $1 million.


In addition, several other schools are now involved with MNSEP and raising money for the installation of solar panels at their own facilities. MNSEP is also actively engaged in developing cross-curriculum educational opportunities related to the production of energy from the sun as well as other topics associated with various forms of renewable energy.


“If anyone is concerned about the generosity, dedication and awareness of young Americans about important social issues, they need look no further than the Minnesota Student Energy Project,” said Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “What started as a simple idea from three students has turned into a major fundraising and philanthropic project that rivals what some nonprofits do.  They are great examples for all students, and AFP is honored to be able to recognize them for their outstanding efforts.”


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The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents 30,000 members in 213 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs. The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession. For more information, go to


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Changing Our World is a leading international fundraising and philanthropy consulting services firm. With a staff of more than 100professionals in three areas of practice – Fundraising, Corporate Social Engagement, and Interactive Services – Changing Our World is the trusted adviser to the world’s leading nonprofit organizations, corporations, private foundations, and philanthropic individuals. Changing Our World develops and executes effective strategies for its clients based on an understanding of their unique challenges and opportunities; the expectations of donors, consumers, and stakeholders; and the dynamics of the marketplace. Headquartered in New York, Changing Our World also has offices in London, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Boston. As a member of Omnicom Group [NYSE: OMC], the world’s most diversified communications company, Changing Our World can also deliver world class marketing, public relations, and branding expertise to assist its clients in making their fundraising and philanthropic initiatives an integral part of a powerful and sustained brand presence.


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