Laddie Elwell to be inducted into Northwest Minnesota Women’s Hall of Fame

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Feb. 10, 2010) — Former Bemidji State University faculty member Laddie Elwell will be inducted into the Northwest Women’s Hall of Fame during an 11:30 a.m. ceremony Saturday, Feb. 27. The hall of fame ceremony serves as the official kickoff to the BSU women’s studies program’s month-long series of events to celebrate March as Women’s History Month.

The event, with a theme of “Writing Women Back Into History,” will be held at Bemidji State’s American Indian Resource Center. Tickets for the event, which includes a luncheon, are available for $20, or $15 for senior citizens and students. Tickets must be purchased by Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Elwell taught at Bemidji State as an associate professor of biology from 1970-80, and since 1980 has occasionally taught as an adjunct faculty member. In 1988, she founded Opportunities in Science, Inc., a science education non-profit organization that founded Bemidji’s Headwaters Science Center.

Now in its 12th year, the Hall of Fame is a collaborative project sponsored by the Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund, a component of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, and Bemidji State University. The Hall of Fame provides permanent recognition for women of northwestern Minnesota who have made significant contributions to art, athletics, business, government, philanthropy, humanities, science or education.

Elwell’s induction will bring membership in the Northwest Minnesota Women’s Hall of Fame to 24.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available at the Bemidji State University cashier’s office. For more information, call (218) 755-3993 or (877) 346-2539.

For more information or to receive a complete schedule of Women’s History Month events, please contact Dr. Louise Jackson with the BSU social work program at (218) 755-2045. Information is also available on the Northwest Minnesota Foundation’s Web site at

Laddie Elwell bio
Laddie Elwell came to Bemidji as an associate professor of biology at Bemidji State University in 1970. She was born and raised on the East Coast and began her career in science as a professor at Iowa State University. During her 10 years of teaching at BSU, Elwell was involved in various environmental research projects for the University, for North Star Research Institute, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Since 1980, she has taught periodically as an adjunct professor at Bemidji State while working with the Science Museum of Minnesota to bring science programs to high schools in northern Minnesota communities. Having had experience with students at regional and state science fairs in Minnesota, she knew that most children had limited opportunities and resources to explore the world of science. Also, while there wer eplenty of opportunities to be involved in sports and the arts in the Bemidji community, science was not a particularly popular pursuit. Relatively few area residents had opportunities to travel to science museums in the Twin Cities or elsewhere.

In response to this need for local opportunities to explore science, Elwell founded Opportunities in Science, Inc., in 1988. Opportunities in Science is a non-profit science education organization that founded Bemidji’s Headwaters Science Center. The organization was founded to help improve science education, particularly in rural areas of Minnesota, by promoting communication between science teachers and professional and academic scientists; to help provide science-oriented in-service workshops, symposia and materials for teachers, to facilitate student access to science-oriented activities such as science fairs, talent searches and other programs and contests; to promote better understanding of the sciences for teachers, students and the public; and to help teach and organize science programs for regional Educational Cooperative Service Units.

Elwell is perhaps best known in the northern Minnesota region for the birth and growth of Bemidji’s Headwaters Science Center. By the center’s 15th anniversary in 2003, it had served over 255,000 visitors and reached another 50,000 people through various outreach efforts.

Rather than taking up leisurely activities in retirement, Elwell dedicated her time to bringing the wonders of science to the public, nurturing many young scientists along the way.

About the NW Minnesota Women’s Hall of Fame
Hosted on the fourth floor of the A.C. Clark Library at Bemidji State University, the Northwest Minnesota Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes significant achievements of lasting value to society or significant groups within the northern Minnestoa region or to the progress and freedom of women. Portraits and a record of each inductee’s contributions are added to the Hall of Fame following each year’s induction ceremonies, and a traveling display is available to be loaned to interested groups in the region.