Environmental education

A wide variety of free environmental education resources and project support and funding is available to organizations working with residents in Hennepin County.

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Environmental education activity guides

About the activity guides

The environmental education activity guides are intended to be used to engage audiences of all ages in learning about and taking action to protect the environment.

Activities are included on a variety of environmental topics. There are also a few general activities that could be applied to any environmental topic.

Each section includes background information to help educators and participants learn about the environmental issue. Each activity includes an introduction, recommended age group, estimated time requirement, outcomes and concepts to reinforce, supplies, preparation steps, procedure, discussion questions, additional activity ideas, and resources.

The activities have also been linked to state education standards. See the education standards matrix (PDF).

Introduction and general activities

Introduction: how to use the activity guides and tips for motivating behavior change (PDF)

Calendar: seasonal milestones and environmental holidays (PDF)


Air, energy and climate change

Air, energy and climate change background information (PDF)


Protecting land and water

Protecting land and water background information (PDF)



Recycling background information (PDF)


Reducing waste

Reducing waste background information (PDF)


Reducing food waste

Reducing food waste background information (PDF)


Toxicity and hazardous waste

Toxicity and hazardous waste background information (PDF)


Educational kits, supplies and event displays

Guidelines for reserving education kits

Education kits and activities that can be checked out for use in environmental education lessons or as displays at events.

Kits are available for reservation by groups within Hennepin County. The maximum checkout period is 10 days unless approved by special request. Kits must be picked up and returned to the Hennepin County Environment and Energy office in downtown Minneapolis.

To request a kit reservation, contact Angela Ziobro at angela.ziobro@hennepin.us or 612-348-9850.

Organics recycling education kit

This kit helps to teach about what is and is not accepted for organics recycling. The kit includes two interactive activities and supplies, printed flyers and a poster.

See the kit contents (PDF)and guides for facilitating activities (PDF).

Food waste prevention education kit

This kit helps to explain the problem of food waste while also giving helpful tips and strategies to prevent it. The kit includes two interactive activities and supplies, write-ups for additional activities, posters, and a PowerPoint presentation.

See the kit contents (PDF) and activity guides for facilitating activities (PDF).

Green gifts education kit

This kit helps illustrate ideas for giving greener gifts as well as choosing greener gift wrapping. It includes examples of gifts wrapped using reused and recyclable material as well as low-waste gift ideas.

See the kit contents (PDF) and engagement guide for leading an activity (PDF) or at events (PDF).

Green parties education kit

This kit helps illustrate ideas for hosting greener parties. It includes party supply examples for high-waste parties, low-waste parties, and parties with organics for composting as an option.

See the kit contents (PDF) and engagement guide for leading an activity (PDF) or at events (PDF).

Household hazardous waste education kit

The household hazardous waste education kit helps educators explain the importance of proper use, storage, disposal and safety information of household hazardous products.

See the kit contents (PDF) and engagement guide for leading an activity (PDF) or at events (PDF).

Green cleaning education kit

The Green cleaning education kit helps educators to explain the simplicity, safety and effectiveness of home-made cleaners.

See the kit contents (PDF and engagement guide (PDF) for leading a green cleaning activity.

Packaging waste reduction education kit

The packaging waste reduction education kit helps educators illustrate how purchasing products with less packaging reduces waste and saves money.

See the kit contents (PDF) and engagement guide for leading an adult activity (PDF), youth activity (PDF)or at events (PDF).

Reduce, reuse, recycle education kit

The reduce, reuse, recycle education kit helps educators explain the importance of recycling, reuse, and waste reduction. It focuses on the connections and interactions of society in our changing world. The kit is housed in two plastic storage totes and a poster tube.

See the kit contents (PDF).

Do you know what to throw? Recycling sorting activity kit

The recycling sorting activity kit helps educators teach groups about what is recyclable. The activity includes examples of items you can or cannot recycle. This activity can spark some great discussions about recycling. The kit is housed in three small waste bins (recycling, organics, trash).

See the engagement guide for leading this activity: Do you know what to throw (PDF)

Make your own 

Save yourself the trip and create your own customized recycling sorting activity. Use one of the following guides to help you.

Recycled product education kit

This education kit helps educators explain the importance of completing the loop by purchasing goods made from recycled products. It focuses on showing the variety of items available and their quality. This kit is contained in one large plastic storage box and a poster tube and is recommended for ages 10 and older.

View the full kit contents (PDF).

Water quality game

The water quality game helps educators explain the importance of daily choices on water quality. This fun game gets participants moving and employs problem solving and innovative thinking in the learning process.

See the gamecontents (PDF) and the engagement guide to facilitate activity (PDF).

Every Drop water demonstration kit

The Every Drop water demonstration kit helps educators explain the importance and relative scarcity of accessible fresh water on Earth.

For more information, see the kit contents and engagement guide (PDF).

Brick of cans display

The brick of cans display shows what happens when cans are crushed at a recycling center. The brick of cans would be a great used with a recycling themed education kit or at events to draw people in to talk about recycling.

Recycled bowling game

The recycled bowling game is a great activity for kids. The game includes reused pop bottles as pins and comes with a handout on the importance of reusing and recycling and instruction for making your own game. This game works best on a hard surface such as tile or pavement.

Activity supplies

Receive free activity supplies to engage people in environmental education activities. Available supplies include spray bottles to make homemade, green cleaners, and reusable bags. Click here to order supplies.

Kits and displays from partners

Additional displays are available for reservation through Metro WaterShed Partners. Learn more and reserve online.

Literature order form

Factsheets, brochures and incentive items covering a wide variety of environmental topics are available to community groups, municipalities and schools in Hennepin County at no charge.

If you would like to order literature, visit the Environmental Literature Order Form to review what's available and order online.

Ordering guidelines

When ordering, please plan ahead. Orders will be filled and postmarked within three to five business days and will require an additional two to three days for delivery through the U.S. Postal Service.

If you need your order filled sooner, pick up at the 701 Building is an option. Select the pick up option on the order form. Pick up orders will be ready within two to three business days. Environmental Services staff will contact you when your order is ready for pick up.

We encourage you to plan ahead so your order can be shipped.

Newsletter articles, social media posts and images

Spread the word! Use the following resources to promote environmental programs, issues and news in your communication channels. Resources include newsletter articles, web stories, social media posts, images and handouts. Resources are available for current campaigns and for general environmental issues.

Current campaigns

Tips to fight food waste

Food waste is a big issue – 40 percent of food is wasted in the U.S. But people don’t often think they contribute to the food waste problem. With some simple strategies, we can all help cut back on food waste – it’s good for the wallet and good for the environment.

Non-reusable clothes and linens now accepted at Hennepin County Drop-Off Facilities

Got torn or dried-in stained clothing? Not a problem. Clothes and textiles that can’t be reused or donated now can be recycled at Hennepin County Drop-Off Facilities.

Choose to Reuse website, www.hennepin.us/choosetoreuse

Green thinkers, unite! The new Choose to Reuse website is a gathering space for Twin Cities green thinkers that will help you make sustainable choices for everyday living. Spread the word!

Recycling and reducing waste

Residential recycling

Recycle Everywhere

The Recycle Everywhere campaign focuses on tips and tricks to expand your recycling habits beyond the kitchen to the bathroom, laundry room and home office.

Business recycling

Owners with commercial buildings in the seven-county metro area – that also generate four cubic yards or more of trash per week – must be recycling at least three materials by January 1, 2016. Businesses can get funds, recycling bins and advice from Hennepin County. Learn more.

Green events

Get resources for planning green events, including a planning guide, templates and tools, and event recycling containers. Learn more.

Fix-It Clinics and repair tips

Residents with broken household goods or clothing in need of repair can get free, guided assistance on disassembling, troubleshooting and fixing their items at Fix-It Clinics.

Disposing of and reducing hazardous waste

Identifying, reducing and disposing of hazardous waste

Green Disposal Guide

The online Green Disposal Guide provides simple content about how to get rid of items. Easy to use and mobile friendly, the Green Disposal Guide offers a range of disposal options and also encourages responsible disposal practices.

Medicine disposal

Medicine drop boxes are available throughout Hennepin County for residents to safely dispose of unwanted and unused medicines.

Safe disposal options for household needles and sharps

It’s important to manage and dispose of sharps (needles, lancets, and syringes) safely to prevent injury and disease transmission from needle-sticks.

Organics recycling, composting and disposing of yard waste

Backyard composting

Organics recycling

Yard waste

Protecting land and water

Actions to protect water quality

Adopt a storm drain

Rain gardens

Tours and presentations

Brooklyn Park drop-off facility

Hennepin County offers facility tours for groups from 2nd grade to adult at the Brooklyn Park Transfer Station (BPTS). Tours highlight the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling and preventing pollution. Youth tours have been linked with MN State Education Standards and a list is available upon request for teachers and administrators. Please refer to the BPTS tour safety guidelines and tour form to request a tour. 

Hennepin Energy Recovery Center: A waste-to-energy facility

Hennepin County offers facility tours at the Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center (HERC) waste-to-energy facility. Please refer to the HERC tour safety guidelines and tour form to determine what may be available for your group. Tours are not available between October 1, 2017 and March 5, 2018 due to the Visitor Center being unavailable. Consider taking a tour of the Brooklyn Park Transfer Station or utilizing a virtual HERC tour if your group would like a tour experience between October and March. 

HERC is a waste-to-energy facility in action where Minneapolis waste is received and burned to generate steam for the downtown district energy system and energy sold to Xcel. This tour describes the waste hierarchy, engineering alternatives to landfills and preventing pollution.

Recommended field trips

See the list of field trip destinations (PDF) recommended for groups interested in environmental education.


Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services staff is available to attend events in the county and give presentations. Depending on the type of event, speakers can be experts on: waste reduction and recycling, water conservation, natural resource protection, toxicity reduction, and other topics.

Email environment@hennepin.us to schedule a presentation or environmental expert for your event.

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