Become a Blue Thumb Partner


Blue Thumb is a public/private partnership of local governmental units (cities, watershed and conservation districts, etc.), nonprofits, and private companies (nurseries, landscape designers and contractors, etc.) all sharing the same goal: planting for clean water. This includes helping people install turf alternatives, native plants, raingardens and shoreline stabilization projects to reduce runoff, improve water quality and increase wildlife and pollinator habitat.

Together, we aim to engage community, inform behavior change and bridge the gap between knowledge and action. We are leading the way in changing landscaping norms among professionals and property owners.


 How Blue Thumb Works

Blue Thumb is a resource-sharing, informational hub connecting public partners, private partners and the general public with each other. Our website provides a wealth of information to property owners, from those looking for DIY instructions to those who want professional help on their properties. We also host popular workshops and exhibit at relevant events around the Twin Cities metro area and beyond. Blue Thumb partners have access to educational displays, pamphlets and handouts for print, and other partner-developed materials. We connect property owners with the public and private partners who can help them achieve the ecologically resilient landscape of their dreams. 


Blue Thumb offers…

  • Partnerships with 45+ organizations including cities, water governing bodies, private businesses and nonprofits
  • Access to professional display and education materials to distribute to property owners
  • Opportunity to network with like-minded professionals
  • Trusted native plant nurseries and landscape contractors
  • Active social media and website with popular native plant selector tool and partner finder tool
  • Workshops for residents on timely topics including raingardens, resilient yards and turf alternatives
  • Train-the-Trainer workshops for professionals and staff on partner-directed subjects like maintenance



General Partner Benefits


Website: A Helping Hand and Double Exposure:

  • is a one-stop shop for property owners looking to learn more about planting for clean water. It includes a plant finder tool, DIY instructions and videos, grant opportunities, clean water and pollinator events, and a partner finder tool that helps connect residents and potential clients with Blue Thumb partners.


Education, Outreach and Marketing Expertise:

  • Blue Thumb uses its large and growing presence on social media, through website traffic, and at events and workshops to call attention to: the problem of runoff and actions that residents can take to address it; clean water news and events; and the efforts of our Blue Thumb partners. We are helping shape the conversation about planting for clean water.


Professional Development & Finest On Earth Networking:

  • Blue Thumb Partners are part of a robust and diverse network of like-minded organizations and professionals, receiving hands-on professional development on timely topics at partner meetings and throughout the year. In 2017, these included Turf Alternatives, Stormwater Benefits of Trees, and Clean Water Communication and Strategic Planning.

Private Partners Especially Value:

  • Blue Thumb workshops offer Blue Thumb partners as local resources. Workshop attendees receive a folder with partner materials and also meet with partner landscape designers to talk about their properties.
  • Our online Partner Finder Tool refers hundreds of website visitors each year.
  • Blue Thumb’s presence at the State Fair and other events throughout the year are all opportunities to meet potential clients interested in creating ecologically resilient landscapes.
  • Blue Thumb helps set apart those companies that have an environmental focus and clean water expertise.
  • Opportunities to learn new best practices in the field at quarterly partner meetings, workshops and other events.


Public Partners Especially Value:

  • New in 2018, Blue Thumb Partners receive a discount on a Resilient Yard or Turf Alternatives Workshop


  • Sharing partner resources like informational handouts or educational displays means that partners needn’t reinvent the wheel, and makes public education and outreach events a breeze.
  • Blue Thumb workshops for residents help reach MS4 permitting requirements and educational goals, and are demonstrated to help attendees convert knowledge into action.
  • Public partners want their residents to install BMPs, but cannot recommend or show favoritism to specific companies who might help. Blue Thumb’s online partner finder tool is a great resource for partners to direct their residents to.
  • Extra help publicizing clean water events, programs, activities and other ways to get involved.

Partner Fees


Our fee structure will ensure that the Blue Thumb program is able to achieve our vision and offer the benefits outlined above.
In 2018, members may continue to fulfill up to 50% of fees with volunteer action hours. The 2018 fee structure includes opportunities for partners to complete volunteer action hours to cover up to 50% of their partner fees, but a cash portion is required to continue to receive all the benefits of membership and is requested by February 1, 2018.
Each action hour is counted as a $50 contribution. “Volunteer action hours” are limited to defined activities as listed on the following page. Any unfulfilled volunteer hours will be invoiced at year end. Of course, your volunteer involvement is encouraged whether or not you provide the full cash contribution to the program. See the Partner Agreement for more information.