BEMIDJI -- Bemidji State University will hold a series of virtual events throughout the month of April for Earth Month.

According to a release from BSU, 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," the release said. "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, the release said.

Bonita O’Neal, a sophomore biology student 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.

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“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,” O’Neal said in the release. “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.”

In addition to the EcoChallenge, BSU’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 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, the release said.

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 on the BSU website and are available for free to the public. Registration is required.

Schedule of events

Monday, April 19

Tuesday, April 20

Wednesday, April 21

Thursday, April 22

Friday, April 23

Related: Events happening in the Bemidji area

Bemidji State University will also hold two virtual Earth Day events on Tuesday, April 20.

The first event titled "Every Day is Earth Day by Dream of Wild Health" and will be held at 10 a.m. via Zoom and participants can join Hope, Jessika and Angel to talk about Dream of Wild Health and their mission of hoping to change conversations about regenerative growing practices, and how we care for the soil.

Jessika, a farm manager, will talk about the science of soil, how it has impacted farming practices and how it can make a world of difference for food production and land life. Then Hope will share an Ojibwe story about the creation of the Earth and how we have come to be, a release said.

The second event titled "Listening to the Diverse Voices of the Earth" will be held at 4 p.m. via Zoom. Panelists will share their personal and professional experiences in environmental, social and racial justice. This panel will be hosted and moderated by Bemidji State University’s Sustainable Communities: Local Indigenous Perspective class, taught by Cornelia Santos.

Each event is open to the public. For more information about the events visit calendar.bemidjistate.edu.