Instructor: April Rust, Minnesota Deaprtment of Natural Resources
Open Space meetings are discussions where the participants create and manage their own agenda of concurrent working sessions around a central theme of strategic importance. This special session will introduce Open Space meetings by inviting attendees to experience a short virtual Open Space meeting first-hand. We will also share how the use of Open Space worked in Minnesota and describe the set of Open Space meetings hosted by the Minnesota DNR and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Committee in 2019. To gain deeper understanding of natural resource issues important to Minnesotans, we hosted three public events around the theme: What can we do to more effectively address the issues of promoting access to Minnesota's Lakes and Rivers, providing excellent recreational fishing, and stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species? Using an Open Space format, a combined 186 attendees set the meeting agendas, led group discussions, exchanged different perspectives, and recorded notes. Active conversations among local residents, lake associations, anglers, local governments, and other interested participants explored how communities can work together better to address shared concerns. Following the meetings, Both the DNR and the AIS Advisory Committee committed to reviewing the notes from each session and diving into the lessons learned.
April has worked as an educator, program coordinator, and planner for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for 20 years, currently in dual roles of Planner and Aquatic Invasive Species Training Coordinator. April earned her B.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies and M.S. in Environmental Education at the University of Minnesota. Throughout her career, April has worked as a naturalist, non-profit curriculum developer, adjunct professor, and facilitator.