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Bemidji State University lies among the lakes and forests of north central Minnesota. Stretching along the west shore of Lake Bemidji, the campus overlooks remnants of ancient pine stands that brought Europeans to log the area a hundred years ago. The rolling landscape created by the last glaciers is marked today by hundreds of miles of excellent hiking, ski, and snowmobile trails, some of which run through Lake Bemidji State Park and adjacent to campus. The park and a nearby university forest serve as outdoor laboratories for courses as well as sources of recreation for the campus and community. The headwaters of the Mississippi River, within Lake Itasca State Park, is less than an hour's drive from campus. As the first city on the Mississippi, Bemidji and its surrounding countryside support an abundance of summer and winter activities, enriching the community throughout the year.
The Bemidji area is home to a population of more than 40,000 and includes the Leech Lake, White Earth, and Red Lake Indian Reservations. Students of Ojibwe heritage add their diversity to the campus culture. Recreational and cultural activities also reflect Scandinavian, other European, and Canadian influences. As a regional service center, the City of Bemidji is a hub for educational, governmental, business, and medical services.
Bemidji State University is actively involved in this community. As a member of the Joint Economic Development Commission, for instance, it encourages continued growth and development of regional industries. Weekend, evening, extension, online, and summer classes complement the traditional class schedule and reflect the institution's commitment to educate and serve a diverse population. University facilities are available for community use, and area residents are welcomed at University events, including concerts, art exhibits, lectures, powwows, movies, and athletic events.
In return, Bemidji State students, faculty, and staff participate fully in the Bemidji community. Contributing to service, social, cultural, religious, and other activities, the campus community finds their health, recreational, and consumer needs satisfied by local establishments.
Bemidji has a vibrant downtown, malls, and other service and retail areas. Entertainment and recreational facilities include swimming beaches, ice arenas, downhill and cross country skiing, a state park, and the Chippewa National Forest. The Sanford Center, a state-of-the-art event center which opened in 2010, is not only home to the BSU hockey teams, but is also a showcase venue for concerts, trade shows, and other regional events. Located about equal distance between Minneapolis/St. Paul to the south and Winnipeg, Canada, to the north, Bemidji has easy access by air, bus, and automobile to metropolitan services and international airports. Internet access is available through the University and through local private providers.