Donor Impact Report 2022

Dear friends,

Warm greetings from Freshwater. We send our heartfelt thanks for all you do to support the health of our water and communities. My name is Melissa Martinez-Sones. Freshwater’s Board of Directors hired my firm in November to guide the search for Freshwater’s next Executive Director. I appreciate the opportunity to serve in this special role at such a special organization.  

The following stories share what we accomplished during the last fiscal year thanks to caring people like you. We hope you enjoy reading them with the knowledge that your commitment makes them possible. We can’t wait to share with you how we’ve continued to make steady progress for our mission while acclimating to a “new normal”. We’ve also been hard at work assessing our organization through an equity lens. 

We know this is vitally important to the future of our work protecting water health. In the year ahead, our mission, vision, and values remain the heart of what we do advancing research, engaging people, and advocating for change. From all of us here, thank you for joining with us to protect water amidst for future generations.  

In appreciation,

Melissa Martinez-Sones - Interim Executive Director

October 2021

Water Stewards certified

November 2021

Donated during Give to the Max Day

June 2022

Raised by donors during virtual Water Connects Us fundraising event

Making a difference

"Freshwater has helped me solidify and practice my passion for helping others."

—Olivia Forsheé, Freshwater intern

"As Water Stewards, we’re on the front lines of changing the environment working on rain gardens, French drains, rain barrels, pollinator gardens and lawns, sidewalk salt reduction, and lawn sprinkler reduction."

Chris Kunz, Water Steward and sustaining member 

"Your experience and leadership of the day were invaluable for us as we look to solidify the necessary direction for our organization moving forward."

—Freshwater facilitation client 

Fall leaves floating on dark water

Donors & members

Thank you to our wonderful donors for protecting the water we value.

In their own words: Why members support Freshwater

"I'm a Freshwater member because I'm concerned about our water for the future of my children and grandchildren." 

"Our donations to Freshwater Society play an important role in sustaining these training programs, funding research and conferences, tackling a wide range of projects, and thereby improving Minnesota’s freshwater resources. It is money well spent."

"I support Freshwater to keep touch with water issues in Minnesota and help coordinate across groups and agencies that work in water."

canoe at dusk

How do Freshwater's expenses break down?

Program expenses
Fundraising expenses
Management and general expenses

Take a journey through Fiscal Year 2022

This is an interactive timeline packed with information.

Click the links (blue text) to explore blogs and pages that provide details.

July 2021

Freshwater hosts science brownbag on nutrient cycling

Mike Berndt, retired DNR Research Analyst, presented his work on nutrient cycling in Normandale Lake. A total of 43 people were engaged in Mike's presentation and some of those folks included MPCA water quality scientists, watershed district and city staff. These important conversations are paving the way for standards for surface water.

Photo of Normandale Lake, courtesy of Mike Berndt

Netflix documentary films collaborative work at Regi Haslett Maroquin's regenerative agriculture farm

Netflix documentary stars are among us! Freshwater research and policy director Carrie Jennings and other partners participated in the filming of Regi's regenerative agriculture practices on his farm near Northfield - one of the farm sites of our collaborative research project for soil health and water quality. This documentary will be a wonderful opportunity to highlight our work with Regi and other water quality concerns.

Photo courtesy of Carrie Jennings

KARE 11 features Freshwater in water conservation segment

July 2021 was hot and dry! Executive Director John Linc Stine was featured in a KARE 11 segment about water conservation at home with reporter Kiya Edwards. Click here to watch the interview segment and integrate some of these water conservation practices into your own home if you haven't already!

Chyann Erickson joins Freshwater as an Office Administrative Assistant!

smiling womanChyann joined the Freshwater team at the end of July 2021 to take on many pieces of the Weatherguide distribution process.

August 2021

Record Weatherguide sales amidst absence from the State Fair 

Freshwater adapted and pivoted throughout the pandemic, with the 2021 State Fair being no exception. Even without a physical presence at the Fair, Freshwater increased online Weatherguide sales by 54% over 2020.

Severe drought conditions announced for Minnesota 

After prolonged periods without rain and much of the state experiencing severe drought, the state announced a drought warning phase. This raises questions of planning for climate resiliency.

Minnesota GreenCorps member Karyna Kloude joins Freshwater

woman smiling

Karyna worked on Freshwater's new program, Adopt a River. The focus of her service year was increasing the program’s sustainability, creating and revamping educational tools, and reaching new audiences.

September 2021

Freshwater in the field: Clean Water Council tours Southwest and Northern Minnesota

Jen Kader was wearing her Clean Water Council Member hat as a part of the two tours. The first, the annual field tour, was focused in far southwest Minnesota, specifically on the topic of nitrate in groundwater. The second brought Jen to the other end of the state to tour and discuss the beneficial impact of a community sewer project in Voyageurs National Park that is bringing environmental and economic benefits to the region. 

Jennings quoted in MPR story about agricultural irrigation – praises conservation; warns it may not be enough 

In this MN Public Radio Story, Carrie Jennings commented in support of technology advancements among Minnesota’s agricultural irrigators to conserve groundwater. Jennings also noted that “unchecked irrigation in some parts of the state could have long-term impacts on groundwater aquifers and surface waters like trout streams.”

Olivia Forsheé joins the team

In her final year at Macalaster, Olivia Forsheé joined the team as a remote intern. Olivia’s focus during her internship was Freshwater's diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) initiative. She worked with Freshwater Senior Program Manager Jen Kader, compiling data from interviews and shaping strategies for Freshwater to increase its DEI efforts.

October 2021

Empowering grassroots action for water - one water steward’s path: 

From becoming a MN Water Steward to tackling water quality projects in her own neighborhood. Read about active Steward and Freshwater member Chris Kunz's journey to action for clean water.

Woman with shovel, digging

Calendars in the classroom: virtual learning style

Student and teacher Zooming

Each year Freshwater works in partnership with the Jeffers Foundation to provide the Weatherguide calendar as an educational resource in schools across Minnesota. Even in times of virtual learning, the Weatherguide still remains a great resource for instilling a love of weather and nature in students! Read about Calendars in the Classroom at Crosslake Community School and Mahtomedi Public Schools.  

Bringing art and science together for water: Confluence of Stewards 2021

This open house festival celebrates the work of Minnesota Water Steward volunteers! Check out this video from the event.

November 2021

Indigenous participation in Great Lakes Governance: an environmental justice perspective 

This Moos lecture featuring Dr. Deborah McGregor set some new Moos records and created an important avenue for increasing perspectives of Indigenous water heritage and practices. Check out the recording from the lecture.

Donors Make Waves for Freshwater on Give to the Max Day  

Thanks to our generous donors and members, we were able to surpass our $15,000 goal for Give to the Max in support of our intern and professional development program.

December 2021

Donor Appreciation event 

Freshwater hosted its first-ever virtual donor appreciation event with presentations from staff, board, and community partners. With over 50 people in attendance we loved the opportunity to thank our donors and members in a safe environment. As one donor shared, Very well done. It tells the supporters that their dollars are making a difference.”

January 2022

Jen Kader's many changing hats

Jen was unanimously elected Vice Chair of the Clean Water Council and promoted to Director for Engagement and Systems Change. You can read more about these changes in this article. 

New Cohort of Minnesota Water Stewards begins

Twenty-six volunteers began their journey toward becoming community leaders for clean water as the Minnesota Water Stewards Welcome Workshop kicked off the program year.

Talia Berkman joins the team 

Tali has chin-length curly brown hair, and is wearing a gray short sleeve shirt against a white wall smiling for the pictureTalia (Tali) Berkman joined the team in January 2022 as a Program Intern. Throughout the course of her internship Tali worked to implement effective communication strategies for the Adopt a River program. Her work culminated in an ArcGIS StoryMap that paired spatial maps and visuals in a narrative form to showcase the impact of this program.


February 2022

Freshwater Fun at Big Island and Back 

Another successful, albeit chilly, Big Island and Back event is in the books. About 120 participants skied, snowshoed, or fat tire biked the 10 km track around the eponymous island.

Big Island and Back!

Jennings presents early results of Groundwater Governance Report 

On Thurs. Feb. 10, Carrie Jennings presented for the University of Minnesota’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Seminar and received this feedback from the director of MN’s office of the U.S. Geological Survey: “Superb talk today, Carrie. This work seems to be incredibly impressive and important - I will look forward to learning a lot from this.” 

These presentations were followed by two presentations of preliminary project results at the EPA Region 5’s Tribal Environmental Program Management Conference in March. 

Bri Jol joins Freshwater as a Research and Policy Intern

Bri Jol joined Freshwater as an intern to support Carrie Jennings' work on the proposed Talon Mine near Tamarack, MN among other projects including helping facilitate tribal engagement opportunities for groundwater.

March 2022

Freshwater video celebrates World Water Day on March 22

This year's World Water Day is all about groundwater. Check out this video Freshwater made to celebrate the occasion - and our love of groundwater!


Adopt a River toolkit launches

After months of research and hard work, the Adopt a River team launches a toolkit for participants. With over 32,000 cleanups and 11,000 miles of shoreline cleaned to date, Adopt a River is making an impact!

April 2022

KARE 11 promotes Adopt a River with article, “Freshwater Society Adopts a River, Shoreline Cleanup Program - Find ways to help clean up your community!” Check out the article here.

Moos speaker Dr. Janice Brahney engages hundreds on the topic of microplastics.


Water Connects Us - a success!

Thanks to the generous and caring support from Freshwater members and donors we cooked up some delicious food with Beth Dooley, learned more about regenerative agriculture and its impact on water, and raised over $65,900 for our programs!

Check out the recording here if you missed it!

Freshwater Board and staff collect trash along Minnesota River, removing everything from aluminum cans and candy wrappers to discarded furniture and machinery.

people picking up trash

May 2022

Extra Innings? by Carrie Jennings, Research and Policy Director

“The legislative session has gone into extra innings more often than not recently. Is this the new norm? This time the game was called with bases loaded and only a couple of runs on the scoreboard. Runners left on base and the pitcher were playing chicken when the lights went off. 

 Read Carrie’s full blog post. 

Photo courtesy of Joe Birkholz, Conservation Strategies

June 2022

Freshwater Facets June Quarterly Newsletter highlights our work so far in 2022 and looks forward to what's coming.

Features include Adopt a River cleanups across Minnesota and an all new visual Story Map, details for our upcoming member appreciation event, and more!

Freshwater prepares for in-person Weatherguide calendar sales at the MN State Fair for the first time since 2019! 

The excitement for getting back to the State Fair in 2022 is palpable - and we can't wait to see you there!

Remembering Darby Nelson

Photo of the people featured in this story

Longtime Advocate for Minnesota Lakes and Rivers, Friend of Freshwater

We were deeply saddened to hear of Darby Nelson's passing on Jan. 13, 2022. Darby and his life and paddling partner, Geri, have had a strong impact on Freshwater over the years. They founded our present-day internship program and share a deep passion for the health of our lakes and rivers.  Darby was a board member for a multitude of organizations including Freshwater and an incredible philanthropist. He was a teacher of biology and environmental science at Anoka Ramsey Community College for 35 years and earned the first ecology Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1970. He served three terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives, passing a multitude of laws for environmental protections. He was a prolific writer, publishing two award-winning books (For Love of Lakes, and For Love of a River—The Minnesota); an avid cross-country skier; and father to two children and grandfather to five. Thank you, Darby, for being a friend to Freshwater. 

Financial summary FY2022

Balance sheet

Cash and cash equivalents $213,671
Other receivables $136,355
Other current assets $46,623
Fixed Assets $33,121
Investments $5,291,932
Total Assets $5,721,702
Liabilities and Net Assets  
Accounts payable $97,475
Accrued expenses $87,902
Deferred rent liability $17,609
Total Liabilities $202,986
Unrestricted net assets $5,156,238
Temporarily restricted net assets $304,103
Permanently restricted net assets $58,375
Total net assets $5,518,716
Total Liabilities and Net Assets $5,721,702


Income statement

Income Statement  
Support and program revenues $1,076,907
Interest and investment income, net ($566,853)
Program services expenses ($1,369,283)
Fundraising expenses ($148,349)
Management and general expenses ($181,781)
Change in Net Assets ($1,189,359)

Freshwater staff

This screen shot is a good representation of how we worked during FY2022!

Screen shot of Zoom staff meeting
Standards WebRGB_square

Accountability and transparency are important to us.
Freshwater is proud to be a Meets Standards organization with the Charities Review Council.