Aug 30, 2011 at 10:00 am
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) - A St. Cloud man's idea for improving awareness of Minnesota's water quality issues is apparently one of the best ideas a Minnesotan has had all year -- his plan has been selected as one of three finalists for a $15,000 grand prize to see that idea become a reality.
The submission by Todd Foster of St. Cloud is among the three proposals chosen from over 100 other ideas as the possible winner of the Minnesota Idea Open's Challenge II: Ideas for Addressing Water Issues in Minnesota.
The Open is the product of a coalition headed by the Minnesota Community Foundation to create a fun and engaging way for Minnesotans to learn about critical issues affecting the state, develop creative new solutions for addressing those issues and be inspired to act.
For the organization's second project challenge, contestants were asked to describe how they would use $15,000 to help their community become aware of and address water issues in Minnesota.
Foster's idea -- expand a canoe and kayak library where the community can borrow boats.
Working with the Friends of the Sauk River, Foster and his friends recently started a canoe library, checking out canoes, life jackets, car-top carriers, trailers and paddles for any community member to use for free. We have already served hundreds of people. In his submission, Foster said the program has inspired others to help protect and clean up the Sauk River, so they want to expand the library to include kayaks and to sponsor even more events to get people excited about protecting and cleaning up the Sauk River.
The $15,000 grand prize would help Friends of the Sauk River buy eight kayaks and all the necessary gear to start checking them out, Foster said.
Foster's idea is competing against two others: Loren Niemi and Sandy Spieler of Minneapolis, who propose to educate the public about water issues through artistic performances; and Peggy Knapp of Anoka, who endorses enlisting older farmers to mentor young farmers on better water conservation practices.
Voting on the three finalists opened August 23 and runs through Sept. 5. Voting was going on online at the Minnesota Idea Open website. Votes were also being cast in person at the Idea Open's booth at the Minnesota State Fair as well as the Science Buzz kiosk at the Science Museum of Minnesota.