Earth Month at Bemidji State: Statewide EcoChallenge and Week-Long Summit

The Bemidji State University Archway

The Bemidji State University Archway

Every day Bemidji State University makes strides to preserve the majesty of Minnesota’s north woods, blue skies, countless lakes and rivers and wildlife. In April, this work takes special importance as the university joins the world in celebrating Mother Earth and highlighting sustainable lifestyles.

Starting April 12, Bemidji State students, faculty, staff and alumni rolled up their sleeves to compete in a two-week EcoChallenge alongside 13 other Minnesota universities. During the competition, participants will complete daily challenges that aim to benefit the environment, such as using a reusable water bottle, watching a documentary or exploring a new hiking trail. Participants log these challenges virtually for points and whichever university has completed the most challenges will be declared the winner on April 25.

Bonita O’Neal, a sophomore biology student from Portland, Oregon, and president of BSU’s Students for the Environment organization, said the challenge is an opportunity for students to represent Bemidji State in its stride to greater environmental stability.

“This is a chance to participate with the rest of the student body in a way we haven’t been able to as of late,” she said. “We are a university that advocates and cares about the environment. By participating, we can improve ourselves and help the environment while showing our school spirit!”

Veronica Veaux

Veronica Veaux

In addition to the Ecochallenge, Bemidji State University’s Sustainability Office will collaborate with North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park, Minn., to host a number of interactive events between April 19 and April 23 in honor of Earth Day on April 22.

The week-long summit titled “Mother Earth in Mind and Heart, in Everyone” will explore and honor the relationship between land and communities and will feature presentations led by several Bemidji State representatives.

At 2 p.m. on April 19, Bemidji State’s Veronica Veaux, assistant professor of business administration, and

Asin Dexter

Deilyah ‘Asin’ Dexter, junior Indigenous studies major from Onamia, Minn., will join panelists in the presentation “Land is Who We Are” where they will present on the conversation surrounding BSU’s proposed Indigenous course requirement for all students.


The panel will also present on the process of introducing land acknowledgments in Minneapolis Public Schools and creating an ethnic studies graduation requirement for all K-12 public schools in Minnesota.

Bemidji State’s Sustainability Director Erika Bailey-Johnson

Erika Bailey-Johnson

In “Decolonizing Sustainability,” Bemidji State’s Sustainability Director Erika Bailey-Johnson will discuss a new model for sustainability that includes wellness for all and a deep responsibility for the Earth. Her presentation will be held at 2 p.m. on April 22.

All events will be held virtually and are open free to the public. Registration is required.

Summit events

Monday, April 19
9:45-10 a.m. – “Starting Earth Week off in a Good Way”
10-11 a.m. – Acknowledging the Land with Dr. Cori Bazemore-James
2-3:30 pm. – The Land is Who We Are: Creating Land Acknowledgements, Indigenous and Ethnic Studies Course Requirements in Higher Education and K-12

Tuesday, April 20

10-11 a.m. – Every Day is Earth Day by Dream of Wild Health
12-2 p.m. – First showing of “Jumbo Wild“
4-6 p.m. Listening to the Diverse Voices of the Earth
7-8 p.m. – Second showing of “Jumbo Wild“

Wednesday, April 21

9:30-11:15 a.m. – First showing of “River to the Heart”
12-2 p.m. – Engaging our Students, Families, and Communities with the Earth
3:30-4:30 p.m. – Healing Walk
6-7:45 p.m. – Second showing of “River to the Heart”

Thursday, April 22

9-11 a.m. – SafeZone Training: An Interactive Look into the LGBTQIA2S+ Community and Allyship
12-1:15 p.m. – First showing of “Ama“
2-3:40 p.m. Decolonizing Sustainability
7-8 p.m. – Second showing of “Ama“

Friday, April 23

9:30-10:45 a.m. – Showing of “Gather: The Fight to Revitalize our Native Foodways
12-1 p.m. – Restorative Loops: Honoring Relationships through Fiber Art
3-4:30 p.m. – Racial Healing Circle
4:30 p.m. – Sending us off in a good way with Gresczyk