Reflecting on the Year: “Bee-ing” the Change in 2023

Our community is what makes the work of planting for pollinators and clean water happen. As we wrap up the year, we’re feeling grateful for everyone who’s been involved with Blue Thumb, whether you’ve explored our resources or dived into a DIY planting project.

We gathered and learned from each other in many ways this year, including our Resilient Yards workshops, the Blue Thumb Partnership, the Minnesota State Fair, Lawns to Legumes, and our Sustainable Landcare Training program. Here’s some highlights:

Resilient Yards Workshops

Through our spring and fall workshops, participants gained do-it-yourself skills to create beautiful habitat for pollinators and restore the ecology of their yards! This year we offered workshops on Resilient Yards, Pollinator Plantings, Turf Alternatives, Resilient Shorelines, and Seed Saving. Over two-thirds of participants who responded to our survey reported installing a planting or clean water practice after attending a workshop.

Newly launched this year, our free Resilient Yards Online Learning Series was a hit, with over 4,000 registrants! Access the learning series anytime and stay tuned for next spring’s workshops on our Events page


Blue Thumb partners volunteering at our MN State Fair exhibit

Minnesota State Fair

We had lots of fun with our native plant exhibit at the State Fair this year! Our volunteers had countless conversations with Minnesotans across the state and even some out-of-state visitors. Over 10,000 people visited the exhibit and we handed out nearly 11,000 native pollinator habitat and clean water resources and materials. We were supported by 56 wonderful volunteers, partners, and staff. A special thank you to MNL and Glacial Ridge Growers for donating this year’s plants for the exhibit! Missed us this year? Catch us outside of the Eco Experience August 22 – September 2, 2024.



Gathering for a soil health workshop with Blue Thumb partners

Blue Thumb Partnership

Blue Thumb is not just a single organization—we are a statewide partnership of government organizations, native plant nurseries, landscape and design businesses, and non-profits working toward the same goals of protecting clean water and creating pollinator and wildlife habitat. This year, 50 organizations participated in the partnership, and 10 of them were new partners. Go to our Partner Finder to explore their offerings and resources—we’re here to support you! 




SLC participants facilitating a training on green infrastructure inspections

Sustainable Landcare Training

Through our Sustainable Landcare Training program, we’re growing a local workforce and creating job and education pathways in the environmental field. We trained 51 people this year to care for native plants and rain garden infrastructure. We were able to hire 11 trainees to work with us to complete stormwater BMP inspections around Minneapolis. 

Looking ahead, we are hoping to identify more job opportunities amongst current and prospective Blue Thumb partners to create a robust network of enthusiastic, passionate, and knowledgeable green infrastructure professionals! Find out how participants have been inspired by the Sustainable Landcare Training in this Metro Blooms blog post.



Lawns to Legumes

Pollinators in the yards of Lawns to Legumes grantees Sarah Nigel (upper left), Ellen Sunshine (bottom left), Molly Wick (middle), Penny Boehle (bottom right), and Mike Budd (upper right)

We’re building a movement to plant for pollinators through the Lawns to Legumes program! Through our partnership with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, our Blue Thumb program distributed cost-share funding to over 1,800 Minnesota residents for creating pollinator-friendly habitat in their outdoor spaces. We connected participants with resources and volunteer coaches to help them transform their yards and support the endangered monarch butterfly and rusty patched bumble bee.

Good news—Lawns to Legumes passed through legislation and will be continuing for the next 4 years! Thanks to recent funding from the Minnesota legislature, grant awards are increasing from $350 to $400 this upcoming spring 2024. Awards for the spring 2024 cohort will be announced in mid-December, and applications for the fall 2024 cohort will open in February. If you are a previous Lawns to Legumes participant and looking for other ways to get involved, consider volunteering as a coach! The Lawns to Legumes team is looking forward to sharing more program updates and new resources to make the program more accessible for participants.


“Bee” a Part of the Change!

The growing season may be over, but it’s never too late to start planning. Feel free to peruse the Blue Thumb website for ideas and inspiration. Every native plant put in the ground helps to protect our environment and create a more sustainable future. Is there a topic you’d like to hear about more from us next year? Feel free to reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, or

Blue Thumb is managed by the non-profit Metro Blooms. Support from people like you help make our mission of a more resilient earth possible. A year-end donation to Metro Blooms will help provide educational resources, workshops, and Sustainable Landcare Training to people across Minnesota.


– Megan Reich, Metro Blooms Communications and Program Manager