Our Holiday Inn in Mankato was in the newly restored old part of Mankato. We drove to Minnesota State University, Mankato and found Timothy Rose Media Relations Director of Fresh Energy who had come from Minneapolis. He directed us to the meeting spot where students from the U’s environmental club were waiting with a sign welcoming the Green Bike Tour.
Lou Schwartzkopf, a professor of physics, was our contact at Mankato. Lou and a few of his students were joined by a van load of students and professors from Gustavus Alolphus. Katy Wartell, a county commissioner and fervent environmentalist, also joined the group. We all took a tour of Bruce Jones’ automotive engineering technology department, a multi room facility festooned with student built vehicles which had entered various competitions to demonstrate energy efficiency or new technologies. They had done a lot of work with E-85 ethanol. Bruce has placed so many students in various companies that he can always get prototypes and components that new students can use to build new concept cars. A bill passed by the recently concluded legislative session in Saint Paul designated Bruce’s department as the first public university in Minnesota to work on plug-in hybrid technology. As yet there is no money for the project, only the designation.
Chuck Niederriter another physics professor who was part of the Gustavus Adolphus contingent led several of his students including, Jeremy Jaspers, of the Mankato State green organization and the rest of the Green Bikers on a route that took a bike trail along the Minnesota River and then moved onto small roads into Saint Peter. We made a stop at Kosota Prairie along the way and arrived in about two hours. Our hosts at GA took us to the student union for some food before the environmental festival they had planned at Linnaeus Arboretum.
State Representative Ruth Johnson, Jeff Jeremiason and Tom Cook and David all spoke at the outdoor presentation attended by about thirty people. The group was interviewed by the Mankato newspaper and by an independent film maker. Dan Treiman and several of his fellow GA students had created displays on energy conservation and renewable energy on campus.
Jeff Jeremiason and Chuck Niederriter spoke about the GA wind turbine project which is going forward despite the cool reception from their local municipal utility. It is possible the college could put up two large turbines and cover a very large portion of the school’s electricity needs. Nearby Carlton and St. Olaf colleges already have turbines and Luther seems ready to build their turbine soon. All are demonstrating their commitment to confronting global warming with 21st century technology.