We are proud to partner with a variety of organizations which contribute their expertise, creativity and time to benefit our community. We thank our community partners for their tireless dedication and outstanding efforts to make Minnesota an even better place to live, work and play.
The area also provides habitat for one of the rarest bee species: the rusty patched bumble bee. In August, a lone male rusty patched bumble bee was discovered to have made the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area savanna its new home. Federally endangered, this individual pollinator represents approximately 0.2% of the known population of rusty patched bumble bees in the world, according to 2018 statistics.
Restoration efforts have focused around the protection and enhancement of native prairie plants with prescribed burns and the removal of invasive plants, helping to restore the area to pre-settlement conditions. To date, volunteers have restored more than 200 acres. In 2020, 89 acres of bluffland were managed.
Pine Bend Bluffs by the numbers (2020)
- 27 species of bees and butterflies found
- 37 acres of woodland and oak forest maintained
- 7 acres of newly restored prairie
- 35 acres of restored prairie and savanna
- More than 18 acres of buckthorn cleared
The Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area is an Environmental Initiative award winner for natural resource protection and is designated as an area of outstanding biological diversity by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The Pine Bend Bluffs are Certified Silver by the Wildlife Habitat Council through its Conservation Certification® program, a voluntary sustainability standard for habitat and species management and conservation education on corporate land holdings. 2021 marks 20 years since Flint Hills was first certified. Learn more in this video.
Learn more about this effort in the Friends of the Mississippi River’s 2020 Ecological Activities Report.
For more than 30 years, Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend and Ducks Unlimited have worked together to conserve nearly 250,000 acres of Minnesota’s lakes and wildlife habitat. Flint Hills’ support includes more than $1 million in contributions, the annual underwriting of raffle tickets at the Minnesota event, and sponsorship of printing. Additionally, for nearly two decades, Pine Bend has supported Ducks Unlimited’s Living Lakes Initiative, which focuses on bringing life back to shallow lakes and marshes.
Other highlights of the partnership include restoring more than 36,000 acres of wild rice lake habitat, protecting or restoring 144,235 acres of wetlands and 54,097 acres of grasslands, and permanently protecting five miles of sensitive shoreline.
Since 2001 the Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery has sponsored the world-class Flint Hills Family Festival in Saint Paul, which provides children and families the opportunity to experience international puppetry, dance, music, drama, acrobatics and culture.
The week-long festival has two parts. During School Days, approximately 21,000 students watch a performance at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, attend workshops, and interact with international artists. During Family Weekend, children and families attend indoor and outdoor performances, participate in hands-on arts activities, and more.
Over the past 20 years, approximately one million people have attended.
The Pine Bend refinery is a member of Clean Air Minnesota, a group of businesses, units of government, and environmental organizations that was convened by Environmental Initiative to develop a set of strategies to clean up the air through proactive, voluntary approaches.
In addition, Pine Bend is a founding sponsor of Project Green Fleet, a collaborative effort with Environmental Initiative to install pollution control equipment in thousands of Minnesota school buses, heavy-duty trucks, and other diesel vehicles. Since the effort was kicked-off in 2005, Project Green Fleet has modified more than 3,200 Minnesota school buses and 1,300 diesel trucks with improvements that reduce diesel emissions and help keep Minnesota’s air clean. In 2014, Project Green Fleet completed its successful school bus retrofit program and launched a new major initiative to reduce emissions from Minnesota diesel construction vehicles, marine engines, rail equipment, and other heavy-duty diesel vehicles, thanks in part to a $1 million grant from Flint Hills Resources. The project was recognized by the EPA as a national model for improving air quality and earned one of two national Clean Air Excellence Awards.
Through a partnership with the Science Museum of Minnesota, Flint Hills Resources helps spark students’ interest in science.
Flint Hills Resources has partnered with the Science Museum of Minnesota since 1998. During this time, Flint Hills’ support has allowed more than 145,000 Minnesota students to experience interactive school assemblies and take memorable sleepover field trips to the museum.
Since 2002 the Pine Bend refinery has sponsored FOX9 Girls, Science and Technology, a program that engages thousands of girls each year in scientific experiments and introduces them to inspiring women working in fast-growing science, engineering and technology careers. According to 2017 data, women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 24% of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workforce. Furthermore, women who hold STEM degrees are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation.
Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend has partnered with The Works Museum since 2013 to provide children and families with memorable, hands-on learning experiences in science and engineering. Specifically, Flint Hills’ partnership with The Works brings Family Engineering Nights to K-12 schools in the Twin Cities metropolitan region. As an employer of hundreds of Minnesota scientists and engineers, Flint Hills aims to inspire the next generation of innovators and problem solvers.
Since its creation in 1991, Flint Hills’ Discovery Scholarships have helped advance the academic careers of more than 450 Minnesota students by awarding more than $850,000 in total scholarships. These scholarships have helped college-bound students pursuing careers in math, science, technology, engineering and agriculture.
Since 1989, the Pine Bend refinery has partnered with the Minnesota Zoo to provide enriching educational opportunities for students, families, and the entire community to experience wildlife at the zoo. Highlights of this partnership include Pine Bend’s support of the Zoo Safari program, which allows students to experience the zoo while following a syllabus that aligns with state STEM curriculum standards, and the ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge, which provides students with real zoo-based challenges and asks them to develop solutions using their creativity, math, science, and engineering skills. The project culminates with a ZOOMS Design Challenge Exhibition at the Minnesota Zoo in the spring, where the top student designs from across the state compete for the top prize.
Since 1997 Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend has supported the DARTS Learning Buddies program, which brings together older adults and students in kindergarten through eighth grade to share experiences and learn from one another. The program focuses on math, science and reading. The program has 47 participating schools and more than 130 volunteers in Dakota, Scott and Ramsey counties. More than 75,000 students have been mentored during more than 113,000 volunteer hours with Learning Buddies over the years. Serving 200 Minnesota classrooms, Learning Buddies provides an intergenerational approach to learning, with volunteers mentoring students in the areas of reading, spelling, vocabulary, science and math, along with providing critical social-emotional connections.
Flint Hills Resources has supported the Carpenter Nature Center for more than 16 years. Located near the St. Croix River, the nature center has more than 10 miles of hiking trails and an interpretive center. Each year 7,000-10,000 Minnesota and Wisconsin students visit the center for hands-on learning experiences that fulfill state science curriculum standards. In addition to donating a building on the property, Flint Hills has supported important Carpenter Nature Center events such as the Apple Blossom Races, the annual gala, and academic programming for students from pre-school to high school.
The Pine Bend refinery hosts free training sessions for law enforcement and public safety responders at its training facility. The comprehensive training center provides law enforcement, fire, rescue, military, and government agencies the opportunity to train in mock situations ranging from bomb threats to hazardous materials to search and rescue.
Each year, the center hosts more than 250 training sessions for more than 5,000 public safety officers from around the country. Free use of the facility saves law enforcement agencies more than $100,000 in rental fees each year.
Volunteer Harry Wickhorst, a retired Flint Hills Resources employee and former law enforcement officer, established the training program utilizing refinery buildings and grounds. On his own time, Wickhorst has made improvements to the facility, including an obstacle course, canine course, and mock duplex and apartment units. Pine Bend has provided funds to help make continued improvements and ensure that the facility remains free of charge.
Flint Hills Resources maintains a fully functioning, two-house fire department at the Pine Bend refinery. The fire department’s 132 crew members, including 87 refinery volunteers, receive ongoing training on all aspects of industrial emergency response and battle live, pressurized petroleum fires at an onsite training center.
In addition, Pine Bend provides mutual aid industrial fire training to the Rosemount, Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, and Hastings fire departments. Firefighters from these departments have been using the refinery’s fire training grounds for free since 1991. Pine Bend also grants scholarships for local firefighters to attend industrial firefighting programs in other locations.