Competition News

Minnesota FarmWise is the Challenge II Champion!

Congratulations to Minnesota FarmWise, this year's Minnesota Idea Open Challenge II Champion!

Submitted by Peggy Knapp and Lark Weller, Minnesota FarmWise recruits experienced and retired farmers to work with other farmers and implement proven conservation farming techniques that are farmer-proven and farmer-approved. Read Peggy and Lark's idea below or watch the video.


Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Challenge. You brought forward more than 100 amazing ideas to address water issues in Minnesota, and more than 10,000 individuals voted this year, which means you helped turn a great idea into a reality. The winning idea receives $15,000 for implementation.


Even though there is only one Champion, everyone benefits from Minnesotans working together to help their communities become aware of and address water issues in Minnesota. Stay connected with us year-round and keep celebrating great ideas at Twitter and Facebook.


And stay tuned for news about Challenge III, coming your way in 2012! Questions? Contact us at


Guidelines, Criteria and FAQs

Challenge II

Who can enter an idea?

All Minnesota residents age 12 or older. Participants under the age of 18 must obtain parental consent prior to submitting an idea. On the entry form, you will be asked to provide a parent or guardian name and contact information for consent purposes.

When can I enter my idea?

You may submit your ideas starting June 21, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. CST and ending on July 19, 2011 at 6:00 p.m.

How do I enter my idea?

You may submit your ideas at If you do not have access to the Internet at home, try your school or local library, or ask a friend. You also may contact us at

The first time you submit an idea, you will be asked to sign up. Getting started is as simple as entering a username, your first and last name, email address and CAPTCHA text. This allows us to verify that you are a person (and not spam) and verify your email account. Once you do that, you can begin!

How many ideas may I enter throughout the Challenge?

You may enter as many different ideas as you wish.

Do idea entries need to be in English?

Yes, we can only accept entries submitted in English. If you need help finding someone to translate your idea to English, please contact us at

What types of ideas qualify?

We welcome all ideas! You do not need to write a formal proposal. Keep it simple yet clear and concise. Have fun and be creative!

How are ideas reviewed?

We will review ideas based on these primary criteria:

  • Innovation: Is the idea creative? We are looking for fresh solutions. Ideas may be a new twist on an existing solution, or a completely new approach.
  • Impact: Will the idea make a difference? We're looking for ideas that are feasible and are likely to help people become aware of and address water issues in Minnesota.
  • Sustainability and Potential for Growth: Will the idea stick and can it be repeated in other communities? We are looking for ideas that will be in practice a year – or even several years – from now, and ones that other communities can adopt.

Feel free to share videos or images to supplement your idea. However, any media shared will not be considered as part of the evaluating and judging process.

What if ideas are the same?

We recognize that some ideas may be similar. If the judges determine two or more ideas are identical then only the entry submitted first will be considered. If the judges determine the ideas are similar but not identical, they will judge each idea on its merits against the criteria. The judges' decision is final.

The spirit of the Idea Open community is one of openness and trust. We ask all participants to uphold this spirit and respect one another’s ideas and give proper credit.

How do I know if you received my entry?

You will receive an email confirmation.

What is the Challenge process?

2010 timeline:

  • June 21: The Idea Open begins accepting entries.
  • July 19: Submissions are closed.
  • August 23: Three finalists are announced and voting begins. All eligible Minnesotans can vote online to select the Challenge Champion from a field of three finalists.
  • September 5: Voting ends.
  • Week of September 5: The idea with the most votes is announced and celebrated!

Who owns my idea?

As a participant in the Idea Open, your idea becomes public and you allow the Idea Open to promote, share and implement your idea – with or without your involvement. We hope you will be involved, of course, but if circumstances prevent your participation, we reserve the right to use your idea for the aforementioned purposes.

Your idea is viewable by the public online. Other community members may comment on your idea, make suggestions and share it with others. The spirit of the Idea Open encourages everyone to share and spread good ideas for the greatest common good.

Who is eligible to vote?

All Minnesota residents age 12 or older.

How many times can I vote?

You may vote once per email address.

How many entries are voted on?

Three ideas will be selected as finalists and made eligible for public voting.

What happens in the event of a tie?

If the finalists receive the same highest number of votes, the idea that is first to receive the highest number of votes will be the one that is announced the Challenge Champion.

How are the finalists selected?

A community panel of volunteer reviewers evaluates all idea entries and narrows all submissions to a group of 20 semi-finalists. A select panel of judges then selects three ideas as finalists. Profiles and photos of the judges are posted on

What is expected of me if I am a finalist?

If your idea is selected as a finalist, you may be subject to a standard background check and may be asked to provide certain personal information needed for the background check.

If the idea selected as a finalist was submitted by an individual under the age of 18, s/he must obtain a parent or guardian's consent to participate and may be required to provide written consent to continue in the process.

Finalists also must be available during the judging process. If you cannot be reached, you may be disqualified as a finalist. We will make every effort to reach you, but timing is critical.

We will ask the three finalists to appear in a short video to “pitch” their ideas. That video will be posted to, the Idea Open YouTube channel and shared through various traditional and social media. We hope you will be willing to participate in additional public appearances and other events.

How will my idea be implemented?

The idea that receives the most votes is eligible to receive a $15,000 grant for implementation. The $15,000 grant will go to an organization that agrees to act as the fiscal agent for the project. Individuals are not eligible to receive the grant. The Idea Open and its partners will identify the fiscal agent. Our goal is to ensure that your idea is a success.

When will my idea be implemented?

We expect a timeframe of up to 12 months from the date the grant is issued.

If I receive the $500, is that amount taxable?

Please consult with your tax advisor to determine any potential tax implications.

How is my personal information used?

Your personal information used to build your online profile, submit an idea or vote will be used by Minnesota Idea Open for Idea Open purposes only. Emails are collected and used for Idea Open communications only. You may unsubscribe at any time.

When you submit an idea, your name is included with your idea on the website. Your name also will be used with your idea for the public voting phase. The ages and contact information of entrants remains confidential.

Semi-finalists may be subject to background checks, conducted by an independent, qualified firm. We will collect additional personal information from all semi-finalists to conduct the background checks. Your information will be kept confidential and used only to determine further eligibility.

How are negative comments handled?

In keeping with the spirit of the Open, we ask participants to keep discussion constructive. The Idea Open is about encouraging participation and brainstorming new ideas – not tearing down any idea, individual or organization. If we feel that any ideas or comments are disparaging of any individual or organization, we will remove it. To be transparent, we will replace the idea or comment with a note explaining our action.

How do I get help?

If you need help with your entry or have questions that are not answered here, please contact us at

Our Top 10 Water Tips

Top 10 Tips: Make a Difference on Water Issues Today

  1. Enter the Minnesota Idea Open Challenge II at! Think about water issues that affect your community and submit an idea to move forward on a water issue your community faces.
  2. Rake your leaves before it rains. Five bags of leaves can produce up to 1,000 pounds of algae. Read more about what’s polluting our water at
  3. Wash your car using vegetable or citrus-based soaps. Learn more about how to wash your car in an environmentally-friendly way with this tip sheet from MN Waters:
  4. Drive your boat slower. This will lessen your water wake and keep our shorelines from eroding! Read more at
  5. Teach your kids to recycle and dispose of garbage properly. TVA Kids provides more ideas for children to improve their community water supply:
  6. Cut your showers to five minutes or less and follow the other tips to conserve water at, provided by American Water Works Association.
  7. Avoid over-watering your garden and lawn. Aside from wasting water, over-watering can cause more fertilizer to seep into our groundwater. The Natural Resources Defense Council provides 12 ways to cut back on water pollution at
  8. Download and use the Freshwater Society’s community clean-up toolkit. Learn more about community clean-ups at
  9. Fix dripping faucets and leaking toilets. One dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons of water each day. For a complete guide on water conservation, check out
  10. Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when you have a full load. This can save you up to 1,000 gallons of water per month. If you want more water conservation tips, read this list of “100 ways to conserve water.”

Show Competition Timeline >
NameCountryLiked on
leslie fabrizioUnited StatesAug 18, 2012
Matt BrinsonSep 02, 2011
Carrie CroninSep 01, 2011
Andrea OrmanAug 30, 2011
gerry tyrrellAug 29, 2011
Morgan AndrewsAug 28, 2011
Elizabeth MainAug 25, 2011
Ari DubowAug 24, 2011
Anne WilliamsAug 24, 2011
Susan SolarzAug 23, 2011

Competition Judges:

Eric Jolly, PhD

Science Museum of Minnesota

Ernesto Velez

Interim Executive Director,
Centro Campesino

Faye Sleeper

University of Minnesota Water Resource Center

Jason DeRusha

News Reporter,

Lea Favor

Executive Director,
Eco Education

Patrick Moore

Executive Director,
Clean Up the River Environment (CURE)

Susan Carter

Foundation Manager,