College community working to make Inver Hills a Bee Campus USA
Randi Goettl, director of accessibility resources at Inver Hills Community College, is the lead on a new working group on campus, The Bee’s Knees Committee. Randi got the idea to launch the novel committee, which is focused on sustainability related to protecting pollinators like honeybees, by visiting the Portland Community College website. The Bee’s Knees Committee held their first meeting in September and already has 19 members.
“I noticed an award medallion that designated PCC a Bee Campus USA,” Randi said. “I liked the idea of raising awareness about how important pollinators are in food production along with developing sustainable best practices that create healthy habitats for bees and other pollinators. I also noticed that Minnesota doesn’t have any Bee Campuses. Inver Hills will be the first.”
One of Randi’s first duties as committee lead involved taking her two sons to a Xerces Society: PolliNation Festival at Kierans Kitchen in northeast Minneapolis in late August.
“Bee Campus USA is a Xerces Society initiative,” Randi noted. “The Xerces Society is an international nonprofit organization that protects the planet by conserving insects and other invertebrates and their habitats.”
The society takes its name from the Xerces blue butterfly, Glaucopsyche xerces, the first butterfly known to go extinct in North America as a result of human activities.
Conservation on campus
Randi has always been interested in ecology and protecting the environment. Last spring, she worked with Brian Jacobsen, a recent Inver graduate and engineering major, to create ADA-compliant raised garden beds for the Inver Hills-Metro State Interdisciplinary Community Garden and Orchard.
“Brian not only designed our new raised beds, he went above and beyond to build the beds himself,” Randi said. “I could not be more proud of Brian for taking charge of this project and making this once frivolous wish come to life. Due to Brian’s hard work and vision, Inver Hills has two raised garden beds that ALL individuals, including those with mobility and physical concerns, can fully appreciate when visiting our gorgeous community garden.”
More about The Bee’s Knees Committee…
Randi reported that The Bee’s Knees Committee is seeking energetic, eco-warriors interested in establishing Inver Hills as the very first Bee Campus USA in Minnesota.
“Thanks to our celebrated floral landscape and community garden, we have a good start making our college Bee Campus-certified, which will help Inver stand out among other institutions,” Randi said. “Environmental issues are weighing heavily on the minds of most people—especially young adults. Displaying our commitment to green issues can make Inver Hills more attractive to current and future students.”
One proposal already in the works for The Bee’s Knees Committee is partnering with the Annual Research Conference (ARC) Committee to develop a sustainability theme for the next conference in April 2020.
“The date of the conference coincides with Earth Day 2020, which marks the 50th anniversary of the global ecological awareness movement,” Randi said. “Both Inver Hills and Dakota County Technical College are also celebrating their 50th anniversaries. This is a great opportunity to move forward on issues such as climate change, sustainability and working toward the greater good.”
Randi met with Representative Rick Hansen (DFL), District: 52A, to discuss partnering with the Lawns to Legumes Program: Your Yard Can BEE the Change, a Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) initiative designed to promote “planting residential lawns with native vegetation and pollinator friendly forbs and legumes to protect a diversity of pollinators.”
“We also want to engage students who are passionate about protecting the environment,” Randi said. “That includes service-learning projects and finding sponsors for sustainability-related scholarships. The Bee’s Knees Committee will strive to develop partnerships with our community as well. We are looking at involving area high schools and middle schools in committee projects. We are already working with college’s Art department on a logo design.”
Committee member perspective…
I joined the committee because I have been an active “environmentalist” since my days in Wyoming back in the 80’s when I used to go around getting petitions signed to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone. I was also part of the anti-logging movement out in Oregon in 90’s.
That said, after 30 years of activity, things have gotten worse not better. I see higher ed as the last possible venue to help cultivate a different relationship to phusis—the attic Greek term that becomes nature. Inver Hills has the perfect campus to help design courses around environmental issues, including this new program to make it a “bee-friendly” location. I am excited about the opportunity to return to environmental activism.
— Shane Stroup, Philosophy Faculty, Inver Hills Community College
By becoming a Bee Campus USA, Inver Hills can:
- Protect the environment, improve eating habits and support the economy
- Help ensure the survival of vital animal species, including hundreds of thousands of pollinator species crucial to the planet’s complex food web
- Raise community awareness regarding the dangers non-native invasive plants bring to local ecosystems
- Raise community awareness regarding the least toxic ways to deal with landscaping pest problems
- Raise community awareness regarding how our food grows while enhancing local food production through expanded pollination
- More than 150 food crops in the U.S. depend on pollinators, including blueberries, apples, squash, strawberries and almonds
- Improve local plant nursery markets by increasing demand for native, pollinator-friendly plants
“As a Bee Campus USA, Inver Hills will belong to a growing network replete with benefits,” Randi said. “We will participate in a national movement of campuses committed to engaging in pollinator conservation. We may also take part in optional affiliate network webinars to promote collaboration as well as teaching and learning among affiliates.”
Randi added that as a Bee Campus USA, Inver will be:
- Accountable for achieving pollinator conservation results each year, results shared with one another and the public through annual reporting
- Receive ongoing support to assist affiliates with community impact including current information about research and national trends in pollinator conservation through Bee Campus USA e-newsletters, listserv, website and Facebook page
- Receive timely press release templates to bring local attention to pollinator issues
- Have access to online tools and documents, as well as shared resources for program promotion—brochure templates, T-shirt designs, bee decals, pollinator garden signs, etc
Learn more about Bee Campus USA certification by visiting:
More about Randi Goettl…
Randi Goettl, 28, started in her position as director of accessibility resources at Inver Hills in April 2017. Randi’s role is centered on leading and supervising the operations of the Office of Accessibility Resources.
“I coordinate services campus-wide to students with disabilities, including determining accommodations and developing an education plan,” she said. “I am also responsible for providing training and support for faculty and staff of the college on disability related issues.”
Randi has a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) from the University of Alabama and a Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.) from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. Before coming to Inver Hills, she gained experience in the field of social work as a supportive housing counselor at a local mental health nonprofit. She also held various jobs centered on social work in government agencies and higher education institutions.
Three words that describe you as a person:
TRANSPARENT. TRANSFORMATIVE. TRANSCENDENT.
“The best part of my job at our college is having the unique opportunity to get to know my students in greater depth than most staff on campus,” Randi said. “I enjoy getting to see my students each semester and follow along as they take their academic journey through Inver Hills and beyond.”
Originally from Racine, Wisconsin, Randi is married with two children. “I am blissfully married to my best friend, Anthony,” she said. “Together, we have two sons, Felix, 4, and Roman, 16 months.”
The majority of her free time is dedicated to raising her two little boys. “I enjoy traveling to state parks and going on nature walks with my family,” she said. “My husband and I travel to a randomly chosen new state each year for our anniversary trip, which is something I always look forward to. I also enjoy gardening and watching sports and cheering on the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Brewers.”
Randi resides with her family in West St. Paul, Minnesota.
Committee member perspective…
When Randi let me know about The Bee’s Knees Committee, I was excited to join because I believe we need to do more on personal and systematic levels to care for our climate. Bees are an important part of our climate’s ecosystem. As pollinators, they support plant growth. Globally 70 percent of crops rely on bees and wildlife to move pollen between flowers.
Basically, we need bees for 33 percent of the food we eat—food like apples, cucumbers, cocoa and alfalfa, the latter feeds our dairy cows. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world without chocolate or dairy!
So, I decided not to just talk about it, but to do something about it. I am a Rotarian, after all, and our motto is “People of Action.” I have participated in efforts by other organizations to promote environmental sustainability and climate justice, but I was glad to see the Inver Hills community wanting to do their part to make a positive climate impact. When The Bee’s Knees Committee formed, I signed up right away! I encourage anyone else with an interest to do the same!
— Rachel Marzahn, Interactive Media Coordinator, Marketing & Communications, Inver Hills Community College
Learn more about The Bee’s Knees Committee by contacting:
Director of Accessibility Resources
The Bee’s Knees Committee Lead