Student to Watch: Eric Armbrust

Eric Armbrust is an inspired guy. Among his favorite quotes: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” He is always ready for adventure, especially if it involves the outdoors and helping humanity.


The Eagan native will graduate from Bemidji State University in December with a degree in business administration. His interests are quite broad, however. Armbrust has been winter camping in the Boundary Waters, kayaking in Montana and hiking the Superior Hiking Trail. At BSU, he has volunteered with Bemidji’s homeless, sung with the Bemidji Choir and worked with the BSU Foundation.

One of his dreams is to build a program that brings inner city and suburban youth together to explore the outdoors and their relationship with God. “I’d like to help students and young adults realize that there’s a lot more to life than what you’re born into,” he said.

A natural at sales and fundraising, Armbrust gravitated to business. In elementary school, he once gathered nearly 200 marathon pledges to raise $900. In high school, he raised funds so friends who otherwise couldn’t afford camps could still attend. Then in college, he spent two summers selling books door-to-door, once finishing 23rd in sales out of 3,000 interns.

Chris Hoffman of BSU student services first met Armbrust at a high school wilderness canoe camp on Lake of the Woods. Armbrust stood out as a leader.

“He modeled enthusiasm … brought everybody’s enthusiasm up,” said Hoffman, who suggested he explore BSU. Armbrust did.

“The first time I came here, I fell in love with it,” Armbrust said. “It was the combination of the small community and the outdoors. It was the kind of place that could impact me and I could impact it.”

In high school, Armbrust joined Young Life, a national faith-based youth organization that sparked his passion for community service. In 2011, he started a BSU chapter of Young Life, the first student-led college chapter in the nation. Club gatherings sometimes draw nearly 50 students. In the fall, he plans to raise funds for a paid director position.

This summer, Armbrust is volunteering at a Young Life camp in Colorado and then on an organic farm in Alaska through another organization, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. “I’ve never worked on an organic farm, and I love gaining world perspective,” he said of his next adventure.

His life motto: “Make a difference every day.”

“I just never want to lose that spark,” he said.

This story originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2014 edition of Bemidji State University magazine.