Three Rivers Partners on Exchange Program to Host Outdoor Educators and Nature Interpreters

September 10, 2019

Three Rivers Park District is partnering with the American Swedish Institute (ASI), the Minneapolis-Uppsala Friendship Committee, and Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board to host five Swedish delegates for the first-ever Outdoor Educators and Nature Interpreters Exchange Program (OENIE) September 11-18.

The inspiration for the exchange was the successful history of public school teacher exchanges between the sister cities of Uppsala and Minneapolis. The delegates are professionals in the outdoor education field and represent three different outdoor educational organizations in the Uppsala area.

The goal of the exchange is to serve as an international forum where Three Rivers Parks and Minneapolis Parks can share their expertise in outdoor education and interpretation and for the group to learn from fellow educators and inform each other’s educational practices. Through this intercultural exchange, the hope is to draw inspiration for future collaboration and programming.

The Swedish delegation will spend the week touring parks in Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs and will focus on six major themes: environmental education; waterways; nature and health; community engagement; partnerships, volunteers and donors; and natural resources management.

A few of the many tour highlights will include a visit to a restored native prairie at Crow-Hassan Park Reserve to learn about natural resource management; a bike tour of the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail to discuss community partnerships; a tour of the Minneapolis Grand Rounds Scenic Byway System to highlight habitat restoration in an urban environment; and a paddling trip on the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes.

“We look forward to hosting our new friends from Sweden and getting their perspectives on outdoor recreation, nature education, and natural resources management,” said Wendy Weirich, Director of Outdoor Education and Recreation for Three Rivers Park District. “We’ll learn a lot from one another.”     

“Our sister cities have partnered on several successful teacher exchange efforts over the past 19 years,” said Bruce Karstadt, President/CEO of the American Swedish Institute.

“This exchange is unique because of its focus on nature and outdoor education, and particularly significant given the priority Sweden places on the environment and ASI’s focus this year on climate-related exhibitions and activities. It’s going to be a wonderful collaboration and learning experience for everyone involved.”