Stenciling ... That's a wrap, folks

A group of storm drain stencilers stands at an overlook to Downtown St. Paul.

Groups of all ages can stencil with FMR! Here Metro State Upward Bound students stenciled in an area with a great view of downtown Saint Paul. 

After 10 years of successful stenciling in Saint Paul, FMR expanded our stenciling program into Minneapolis this year! There is no doubt, this expansion contributed to another successful season. Between the two cities, FMR worked with 1,621 people to stencil a total of 3,114 drains and pass out 9,016 flyers. 2,434 of these drains were in Saint Paul, 474 in North and Northeast Minneapolis and 206 along the River Gorge in Minneapolis. 

Stenciling is an effective way to spread the message that our storm drains directly connect to the Mississippi River, so anything that goes down that drain will end up in our river. Just think of all the things you have seen along the roadways that end up in our river after a rain or snowmelt. Road salt and cigarette butts are some of the worst pollutants, but there are also leaves, grass, fertilizers, pesticides, oil, gas, paint, antifreeze and an amazing variety of trash. Groups don’t just find your standard bottles, wrappers and cans in storm drains. This year volunteers cleaned out everything from baseballs and full jars of peanut butter to an entire set of clothing accumulated piece by piece over the summer (underwear and formal tie included). Cleaning these things out of the storm drains along each designated route is probably the least fun portion of stenciling. The rest of the program involves spray paint and passing out educational flyers in the neighborhood. This gives volunteers the opportunity to talk to curious neighbors and share the importance of keeping our storm drains and river clean. 

While spray painting is fun for all ages, many of our 2015 stenciling volunteers were youth. In fact, nearly 90% of this year’s stenciling volunteers were youth, including the entire 4th grade at American Indian Magnet School, and they did a wonderful job. But anyone can have fun stenciling and we had some amazing college and corporate groups participate, too. Augsburg College's first year students rode the green line train to our Midway stenciling location and worked in the heat of late August to get an amazing amount done. The same is true for Metro State Upward Bound students. Thanks to them, a large portion of drains in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood was stenciled this year.  Corporate groups like Healthways and Veritas contributed significantly to our stenciling program this year as well. We had a wonderful time and lots of fun with each group this summer. 

As we wrap-up this stenciling season, having exceeded our goals, we are looking forward to a fun 2016 stenciling season. If you have a group that is interested in finding out more about storm drain stenciling, or would like to be contacted when we start booking for 2016, please contact Assistant Stewardship Coordinator Kate Clayton at or 651-222-2193 x23.