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Environmental Achievement Awards call for nominations


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.





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