Stencil storm drains with FMR

If you're looking for a great service outing that is educational, active, outdoors and helps our local waters, consider storm drain stenciling.

This hands-on activity is an ideal opportunity for groups looking for a fun, team-building experience with immediate results. Stenciling outings are offered May through mid-October as the weather permits.

Outings can be conducted by FMR staff or, for smaller groups, DIY kits are available. 

Why do we need to spray paint messages next to storm drains?

Watch our video to learn about the eight leading runoff pollutants and their effects on natural waterways and habitats in the metro. Storm drain stenciling is one way you can help keep our river clean.

What is storm drain stenciling?

Using paint and stencils, volunteers mark storm drains with the message, "Keep 'em Clean, Drains to River (Lake or Creek)!" and distribute educational door-hangers to neighborhood homes and businesses.

FMR offers staff-led outings as well as do-it-yourself stenciling kits. Both options are free, with all supplies provided.

A staff-led outing:
• is just 1 1/2-2 hours in length
• can be scheduled according to your needs (and the stenciling coordinator's availability)
• normally can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 200 people

A do-it-yourself stenciling kit is a great fit for smaller groups. 

What do volunteers do?

Outings begin with a brief educational presentation on how storm drains connect to the river. For staff-led outings, presentations can be tailored to the age and interests of your group. For those going out with a kit, we recommend the video above and will provide additional educational support materials.

Using spray paint and stencils, volunteers mark storm drains with the message, "Keep 'em Clean - Drains to River!"

Volunteers also distribute educational door-hangers to nearby homes and businesses to help residents reduce water pollutants like excess fertilizer, leaves, oil, salt and trash.   

Where can I participate? Who can participate?

In St. Paul, FMR can work in-person with any group of 10 or more: school classrooms and community groups, youth, church, corporate and informal neighborhood or family groups are all welcome. If you have a smaller group or would like to stencil independently, you can check out an FMR stenciling kit. 

In Minneapolis, FMR works with youth-focused groups. (Adult and corporate groups can arrange outings with the Minneapolis Department of Public Works.)

Stenciling works best for participants 4th grade and up, but we will consider exceptions for groups with younger children with a significant adult-to-youth ratio.

Out of our stenciling area?

Other metro drain marking programs

If you know of any local stenciling programs not on this list or see any information in need of an update, email!


This activity requires walking/traveling 1-2 miles through local neighborhoods, typically on flat, concrete sidewalks and streets. Additional demands depend upon each participant's role. These may include bending to spray paint the stencil next to the storm drain or helping to carry the stenciling kit (a 5-gallon bucket filled with necessary materials) throughout the length of the activity.

  • Data collector: tracks the number of storm drain stenciled and educational door-hangers hung 
  • Stencilers: place safety cone in the road, clear the storm drain of debris, spray paint the stencil, carry stenciling materials
  • Trash collectors
  • Educational door-hanger distributors 

Ready to plan your stenciling outing?

FMR conducts this program May through mid-October, weather permitting. 

It can take two to eight weeks to coordinate a staff-led outing, depending on your group size and how many groups are currently scheduled. To get started, please tell us more about your group on our outings request form.

If you have a smaller group or prefer to work independently, consider checking out an FMR storm drain stenciling kit. Kits can typically be arranged within two weeks and can be checked out for two weeks at a time. To arrange a DIY stenciling kit pick-up, fill out our online pledge and waiver and indicate that you would like to check out a kit. 

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