The University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center (WRC) and the Minnesota Sea Grant (MNSG) have long recognized that effective management of water resources provides numerous benefits to local communities beyond improving water quality and reducing flood risks; it can also provide social and economic benefits, increasing overall quality of life. WRC and MNSG’s complementary water resource goals have led to a growing set of joint activities. As such, both programs joined forces to hire Extension Educator Maggie Karschnia to focus on urban stormwater, community resiliency and watershed education.
MNSG and WRC’s financial and personnel investments in stormwater programming and research have led to new information and ideas which can improve Minnesota’s stormwater management practices and water resource policies. Karschnia’s hire will advance their shared goal of addressing Minnesota’s complex water resource challenges by building on existing programs and developing new ones to accelerate urban stormwater practices and policies.
With a background in stormwater regulation and environmental education, Karschnia plans to increase awareness of new water resource research and practices. She found that providing policymakers, practitioners and the public with the right information at the right time will help them make effective water resource decisions on both small and large scales. Karschnia will work with the Minnesota Stormwater Research Council to support WRC’s innovative stormwater research projects designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of stormwater management practices. She will also be contributing to MNSG’s national Watershed Game educational program that added a coast model in 2020.
Karschnia’s work will include leading stormwater extension programs, innovative outreach on urban stormwater and community resiliency, identifying stormwater education needs, and developing, teaching, and evaluating research-based curriculum for practitioners. In her first year, Karschnia plans to focus on bringing current stormwater research into the hands of working practitioners, assisting with the MNSG Watershed Game, and working with local leaders to build on Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officers (NEMO) programming, among other opportunities.
Prior to joining WRC and MNSG, Maggie served as the project manager at the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District in Prior Lake, Minnesota. In this role, she managed a robust permitting program where she found creative ways to provide clear and effective communication around stormwater management, working together with local partners and permittees to find inventive solutions to stormwater problems. She also worked with partners and local stakeholders on developing a flood study and upper watershed plan to achieve common water resource goals. As project manager, she implemented several water resource partnership projects, including iron-enhanced sand filters, wetland restorations, biofiltration basins, and shoreline restorations.
Karschnia brings a practical knowledge of stormwater management and a passion for environmental education to her new position. “The new water resource programming and research that the Water Resources Center and Minnesota Sea Grant are coming out with is incredibly exciting. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to add to this momentum by finding new ways to share research information, and by establishing new programs to address pressing water resource issues, leading to resilient communities.”
Maggie Karschnia, University of Minnesota Extension
Prior to joining the Water Resource Center & Minnesota Sea Grant teams, Karschnia was the project manager at the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District for nearly seven years. She has a B.S. in Conservation from University of Wisconsin – River Falls and an M.A. in Natural Science and Environmental Education from Hamline University. Her previous work experience also includes seven years at the Minnesota Land Trust as their wetlands & grasslands program manager, and positions at both the Wisconsin DNR and the Minnesota DNR. Maggie is currently on the board of directors for the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education where she currently serves as their president. She also volunteers for the Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP), and lives in Saint Paul with her husband (Rick), two children (Delaney and AJ), four chickens, and a rescue dog.