The University of Minnesota Morris is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States with recognition from multiple national organizations. Civic engagement and sustainable, environmentally friendly focused initiatives are foundational pieces of the institution’s mission. Students seeking change in their local communities have led these efforts and have also received national leadership recognition for their efforts.
Students are involved in many outreach programs that promote community engagement as it relates to Morris’ core values of sustainability. For example, the University of Minnesota Morris has programs such as the Center for Small Towns, Minnesota GreenCorps, and the West Central Regional Development Partnership. Senior Seth Elsen is very involved in the Center for Small Towns and was able to pursue an internship at the Upper Sioux Indian Community through the Center for Small Towns. Elsen did research and conducted a feasibility study for the Upper Sioux Community on wind and solar energy prospects for the reservation trust lands before presenting his findings to the organization. He said, “During my presentation, I stood there knowing I was making a difference, and hopefully helping make something very big happen for the community, both economically and environmentally.”
Laura Anne Hunt is also a Senior at Morris but has been very involved in the Minnesota GreenCorps program at the University of Minnesota Morris. Within the program Hunt has chosen to focus on green infrastructure, specifically urban forestry. As a GreenCorps member, Laura Anne began the conversation about trees in her community to help people understand why they are so important and beneficial, threats to trees, and how community members can contribute. She says, “This experience has opened my eyes to real-world work, professional relationship building and growth. It was a great experience to have as a college student, because I could start a project and still have all of the resources of the University to learn from and get help from.”
Through Morris’ sustainable civic engagement programs, students like Hunt and Elsen are given the opportunity to enrich their college experience and provide resources to local communities they are passionate about. Elsen said, “It has given me a way to gain experience in possible careers, while also giving me a chance to apply what I learn in classrooms to the real-world setting. I am very grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me here at University of Minnesota Morris.”
Click here to learn more about sustainability at University of Minnesota Morris.