Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Growing leaders, strengthening communities in Minnesota

Group photo of 6 youths and two mentors who are part of Urban Roots Minnesota program
Toastmasters International District 6 Youth Program Coordinators Dan Grundtner and Teri Heyer congratulate seven youth in completing the 8-week program through Toastmasters International. Photo courtesy of the Urban Roots Minnesota.

MINNESOTA – For over 22 years, Urban Roots Minnesota has provided paid internships to youth ages 14-18 on the East Side of St. Paul. Each year, approximately 60 youth develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills through Urban Roots gardening, cooking and conservation programs. St. Paul’s Urban Roots programs, USDA Forest Service – Urban Connections program and Toastmasters International work together to provide these local youth opportunities to grow as future leaders.

Urban Roots conservation program has partnered with USDA Forest Service offering youth opportunities to visit and recreate on the Chippewa National Forest and learn more about careers in conservation and natural resources from staff. Six youth enjoyed camping, fishing, hiking and canoeing on the national forest along with visiting a local college.

To grow as leader, great communication skills are vital. With the help of the non-profit organization Toastmasters International, seven youth completed an 8-week program focused on speech writing, impromptu speaking, how to lead meetings and practicing parliamentary procedure.

Toastmasters International District 6 Youth Program Coordinators Dan Grundtner and Teri Heyer led this youth program and gave presentations on how to organize and evaluate a speech, effectively use gestures and parliamentary procedure. Grundtner and Heyer commented on how the youth stories were amazing – some funny and sad. Everyone learned from each other. Some of the youth mentioned that it took more than one time for these skills to “really sink in” and how quickly the “ums” and “like” words come back.

A Toastmaster youth participant Cecilia said that she never realized that gestures were so important. “They can be helpful or not!” Another intern Sai said, “I could see my confidence getting stronger every time I gave a speech.”

USDA Forest Service Urban Connections St. Paul/Minneapolis Program Coordinator Teri Heyer works with local partners and organizations like Urban Roots and Toastmasters International connecting communities to the outdoors and how conservation and natural resources plays an important role in our future.

Youths from the Urban Roots Minesota group enjoying and picnic outdoors
Urban Roots youth enjoy camping trip on the Chippewa National Forest. Photo courtesy of the Urban Roots Minnesota.