Students give back on Beaver Service Day

BEMIDJI, Minn. – On Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007, 68 students from Bemidji State University reached out to the Bemidji community by volunteering for numerous service projects as part of Beavers Make a Difference Service Day, held in conjunction with USA WEEKEND’s Make a Difference Day.

Coordinated by the Hobson Memorial Union, the Service Day promoted the concept of civic engagement within the campus community and completed much-needed work for local agencies, organizations and non-profits. Community service is one of three signature themes or initiatives at Bemidji State University, along with global and environmental stewardship.

Amongst the many goodwill projects completed that day, Bemidji State student volunteers cleaned kennels at the Beltrami Humane Society, moved cages for tree seedlings at the Bemidji State Park, raked leaves for local residents, and weeded city plots to prepare for winter during their three- to four-hour work sessions. Students also did work for Habitat for Humanity and the Northwoods Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers program.

Blake Bishop, a senior in marketing communications from Spooner, Wis., was one of the BSU students who participated in the service day. For Bishop, who also is active in the group Students Today Leaders Forever, the opportunity to give back on Beaver Service Day was simply an extension of his personal commitment to community service.

“Service projects like this are very important part of making students more aware of what’s going on in the community,” Bishop said.

Bishop was among a student group that constructed a shed at the home of a low-income family for Habitat for Humanity. Originally scheduled to be on the site for around three hours, he and the others worked for almost six hours to ensure the job was completed.

“We didn’t want to leave the shed half-built,” Bishop said. “The people there talked and decided to stay longer, and one guy even cancelled his hunting trip to stay and help.”

Brina Ellison, a senior in applied psychology from International Falls, Minn., participated in the Beaver Service Day because she felt it was a great opportunity to volunteer with new people. Her group was assigned to a Girl Scout project for six- to nine-year-olds. Cutting words and pictures from magazines, the BSU students made sample books for an art project where each scout will use the magazine cutouts to create a book that describes herself and her interests.

“My favorite memory of the project was sharing the books we made with each other,” Ellison said. “It was silly and fun, but a really a great way to get to know the other students in the group. I made two new friends that day.”

Make A Difference Day is an annual event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of every October. This is the second year BSU has held a campus-wide effort.

More information is available by contacting Lisa Radintz, leadership coordinator at Bemidji State’s Hobson Memorial Union, at (218) 755-3760 or via e-mail at