Neil Patrick Harris didn’t show up to do a magic trick and Ellen DeGeneres wasn’t there to break Twitter with a celebrity packed selfie, but the Environmental Initiative Awards last week was still jam-packed with big name environmental leaders and superstar projects.

The recent “Conservation Oscars” honored 18 projects from across Minnesota at the 2015 Environmental Initiative Awards ceremony in Minneapolis. Environmental Initiative, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing people together to solve problems, celebrates environmental success stories from across the state through this annual program.

From Morris to Minneapolis, here’s a glimpse at the winning projects in each category and the great work people are doing in partnership to protect the land of 10,000 lakes we all love.

COMMUNITY ACTION
Morris Engaged: Planning and Action for Climate Resilience »
Morris Engaged is a community-based program incorporating education, deliberation, and citizen-led planning and action to enhance community resilience in the face of climate change.

ENERGY & CLIMATE
Project Standing Sun »
Project Standing Sun has increased access to clean and affordable heating and electricity for 61 low-income households across 4 states, which is projected to offset more than 70 metric tons of carbon annually

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
Master Water Stewards »
The Master Water Stewards program recruits, educates and certifies community leaders who work to increase water infiltration on private properties and educate neighbors about practices that reduce runoff.

FOOD STEWARDSHIP
Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program »
The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary approach for producers and agricultural landowners to become certified through a whole-farm evaluation that assesses the operation’s risk to water quality and management of that risk.

NATURAL RESOURCES
Manston Slough Restoration »
State agencies, federal agencies, a nonprofit organization and more than 33 private landowners collaborated over many years to restore the roughly 7,000 acre Manston Slough wetland in Wilkin County, Minnesota. Manston Slough Restoration was also awarded the evening’s highest honor, 2015 Partnership of the Year.

SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS
Tiny Diner »
Tiny Diner is a Minneapolis Powderhorn neighborhood restaurant with a dedicated-structure solar array covered patio surrounded by permaculture-designed gardens.

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