Student Blog: Exploring the North Woods Through a Service-Learning Course

Trees in green and yellow fall colors

This is a blog by Bemidji State University student Lily Bauer, a double-major in business administration and communication studies from Fridley, Minn. Lily is a member of the content team in BSU’s Office of Communications & Marketing.

One of the things that drew me to Bemidji State University was the nature that surrounded all aspects of campus life. With the lake on the horizon and recreational areas to explore, it seemed the place for adventure – and it certainly has been.

From hiking trails and biking around the Lake, I have enjoyed every opportunity to get outside and explore. So, I was excited to explore Lake Bemidji State Park for my Environmental Communication Class.

About Environmental Communication

The environmental communication course, a newly revamped course in BSU’s communication studies pathway, focused on applying classroom concepts to the real world.

Throughout the course, multiple groups of students were paired with environmental organizations all over Bemidji. My group was partnered with Shannon Bungart, an assistant manager for Lake Bemidji State Park. Our job? Create and manage an Instagram page featuring the park throughout the fall semester.

Our goal was to help increase the public’s engagement with the park’s trails, wildlife and activities while using social media throughout the semester.

What Were We Doing?  

From creating graphics about events to taking photos of the park, each group member brought their own creative ideas to the table. Each of us had our expertise when it came to using Instagram, so each of us brought ideas to highlight the beautiful landscape.

Bungart was instrumental in directing us to different areas of the park that regular visitors know and love. The project gave us a unique opportunity to consider our interactions with our community as we take on the responsibility of serving the community.

We played the roles of park visitors and social media managers while we explored the park. In doing so, we hope our audience experienced the same awe we felt watching the leaves change and fall.

My experience  

We explored new trails each time we visited the state park. Some of my favorite trips were the Bog Walk Trail and the candlelight hike.

The Bog Walk trail features a boardwalk that carries visitors through a unique ecosystem full of rare plants such as orchids, insect-eating plants and Pink Lady Slippers, Minnesota’s state flower. The Bog Walk Trail promises the best views during the fall with the changing leaves.

The candlelight hike shows a familiar Minnesotan spirit of venturing outdoors despite the wintry weather. The hike features luminaries that light the way on a short and easy trail. This year’s candlelight hike featured spooky-themed candles and awarded candy to hikers who reached the end of the trail.

Overall, it has been a rewarding experience to explore our North Woods environment and help the community members that make these interactions possible.