Executive and employee engagement

Executive and employee engagement

As a land-grant university, the University of Minnesota is dedicated to public/private collaborations that play a vital role in the economic development of Minnesota and beyond.

Crucial to these collaborations are industry executives and professionals who engage with the University through teaching, mentorship, expertise and knowledge-sharing, and more. Their volunteerism and engagement has supported student success; addressed issues of health and sustainability; and driven innovation, education, and equity for the communities we serve and share. Below, find a few examples of their impact.

H.B. Fuller: Service Day at the Bell Museum

During an employee day of service at the Bell Museum in July of 2018, a team of H.B. Fuller volunteers prepared materials for one of the Bell’s K-12 STEM science labs, dedicated to pollinators and their participation in our ecosystems. Designed with school groups in mind, science labs provide standards-focused, collaborative learning experiences for students of all ages, connecting classrooms with leading scientific research taking place at the University of Minnesota. Through their volunteer work, H.B. Fuller employees made a significant impact on helping the Bell Museum launch their latest K-12 field trip program in the museum’s new building.

"It was an incredible experience to welcome H.B. Fuller employees into the new building and to know that their efforts played an important part in helping the next generation of STEM learners understand the vital role that pollinators play in our daily lives."

Medtronic: Mapping Prejudice project

In July of 2020, two Medtronic employees and “Community Impact Champions” collaborated with the Medtronic Foundation to host a volunteer orientation for the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Mapping Prejudice project. What began as a small event during Project 6—Medtronic's annual month-long kickoff to volunteerism—would grow into an ongoing education and volunteerism effort in service of racial equity.

Based in the John Borchert Map Library at the University of Minnesota and founded in 2016, the Mapping Prejudice project is working to create the first-ever comprehensive visualization of racial covenants for an American city. Volunteers play a crucial role in advancing this work, transcribing deeds through the project’s Zooinverse platform and educating their own communities about the impact of racial covenants across the Twin Cities.

On Medtronic’s global Day of Action for Racial Equity Progress, hundreds of Medtronic employees chose to volunteer with Mapping Prejudice, setting a single-day record of more than 5,200 deed transcriptions through the project’s Zooinverse platform: the highest recorded day of data transcriptions in the project’s history. And their engagement didn’t stop there. Over the course of the next nine months, Medtronic employees would go on to host four more events at Medtronic in collaboration with Mapping Prejudice staff: from webinars to virtual volunteer orientations to days of service.

Cumulatively, more than 600 Medtronic employees have logged over 1,300 volunteer hours, with participation from 11 countries and 28 states within the United States. Medtronic volunteerism made it possible for Mapping Prejudice to qualify for—and ultimately to receive—a special grant opportunity from the Medtronic Foundation’s Spotlight Pilot Program. Through their volunteerism, Medtronic employees are advancing the company’s commitment to education, equity, access, and justice: shaping a broader reckoning with the legacies of racist housing policies, and leveraging an understanding of the past to address the inequities of the present.

"By co-leading this volunteer initiative, Jessica Schmidt and I learned a great deal about the extreme and long-term damage caused by systemic injustices like racial covenants. We’ve been thrilled by the level of engagement of our Medtronic volunteers and are grateful to the Mapping Prejudice team members who presented and shared their knowledge with us, making the experience incredibly impactful for all. We are confident that through this work, it has not only helped Mapping Prejudice achieve the goal of more completed transcriptions, but has also driven many of our volunteers to take further action and advocate for racial equity in other ways."

The Toro Company: Toro Day at the Arboretum

At the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, The Toro Company holds a long history of executive and employee engagement and volunteerism. In addition to essential maintenance tasks like mulching, seeding, and clean-up, volunteer teams from Toro tackle larger projects during an annual day of service held at the Arboretum. With assistance and leadership from Toro employees, these days of service have led to the completion of many significant projects that would not be possible without the efforts of Toro volunteers. Through shared time, expertise, and other in-kind donations, Toro’s engagement has strengthened the vitality, sustainability, and safety of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

In 2018, as the area behind Wood Duck Pond had begun to wash out, Toro volunteers brought equipment and assisted with the installation of wired mesh baskets to catch sediment. This project was an essential fix, preserving the shoreline and reducing erosion around the pond. The following year, Toro volunteers helped to tackle a bumpy trail across wetland at the edge of the Arboretum’s staff parking lot. Volunteers brought equipment to level out the trail, install two new culverts, and lay an erosion blanket: creating a safer, smoother trail for all Arboretum visitors.

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Elizabeth Wegele

Elizabeth Wegele