Bemidji State University hires Erika Bailey-Johnson as its first sustainability coordinator

BEMIDJI, Minn. - Bemidji State University President Dr. Jon E. Quistgaard has named Erika Bailey-Johnson as the University’s first sustainability coordinator.

Bailey-Johnson’s appointment is effective Wednesday, August 20.

“Erika has a strong environmental science background and has a deep passion for educating others on sustainability issues,” said Bill Maki, Bemidji State’s vice president for finance and administration. “Her experiences working with students, faculty, staff and the larger community on these issues will be a tremendous asset to the University. Her background and passion will allow her to make an immediate impact advancing Bemidji State University’s environmental stewardship signature theme.”

Bailey-Johnson is no stranger to Bemidji State. She has been associated with the University since 2004, when she began her graduate coursework in environmental studies. She has been on Bemidji State’s Environmental Advocacy Committee since 2004, serving as its co-chair in 2005-06, and was a graduate assistant on campus in 2005-06. She has served as an adjunct instructor at Bemidji State since 2006, teaching the course “People and the Environment.”

“I have eagerly awaited for this position to become a reality,” Bailey-Johnson said. “I am excited to become a permanent part of the campus community and look forward to working with all the different parts of the University to decrease our energy consumption, improve our waste stream and educate future leaders.”

Bailey-Johnson says one of her goals, which will help guide the campus over the next several years, will be for Bemidji State University to become a signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The commitment calls for the University to take a campus greenhouse gas emissions inventory, which has been completed. Within two years of signing the commitment, the University must have a plan to become carbon neutral.

“That is a challenging task I am looking forward to coordinating,” Bailey-Johnson said.

Bailey-Johnson will also work to develop a plan for the student “green fee,” a $5-per-semester fee which is being implemented for the first time this semester after being voted in by the University’s student body in the spring, and for the Sustainable Campus Endowment. From these funds, students will be able to receive small grants for projects to promote sustainability on campus.

In addition to her work on campus, Bailey-Johnson also has been active in the Bemidji community, serving on the Bemidji Area Climate Change Coalition since 2006. There, she has helped organize and coordinate a variety of community events to educate and motivate area residents on the impacts of global climate change.

“Over the past four years, I have become acquainted with many wonderful people on campus and in the local community,” Bailey-Johnson said. “I hope to continue to build bridges and to make this beautiful area a leader when it comes to taking care of the natural environment for future generations.”

Before coming to Bemidji in 2004, Bailey-Johnson spent five years teaching internationally. From 1999-2001, she was a 9th- and 10th-grade science teacher at the American School of Tampico in Tamualipas, Mexico, and chaired the school’s Environment Committee and was the advisor for its Environment Club.

From 2001-04, she taught seventh-grade science at the American School of Kuwait in Kuwait City, a course which included an environmental science unit. She continued her extracurricular work to support the school’s environmental initiatives, serving as the advisor for the Environment Club and as coordinator for recycling and for the school’s Earth Day activities.

Bailey-Johnson is a member of the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability and the North American Association for Environmental Education and is a member of the board for the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education.

Bailey-Johnson has a bachelor of arts degree in biology from the University of Minnesota, Morris and a master’s in environmental studies from Bemidji State.