The Morris Challenge offers an exclusive opportunity for west central Minnesota high school students to see how UMN Morris has designed, developed, and implemented sustainable solutions to address challenges on campus and in the community.
To do this, university faculty and staff share the why and how behind the work—offering insights and experiences that build on what high school students know and can do. In this way, Morris Challenge is honoring the university’s 60-plus-year commitment to provide educational opportunities for young people in west central Minnesota.
Morris Challenge Events
The Morris Challenge hosted two events in its inaugural year: the Morris Challenge Youth Institute, held May 24, 2022, welcomed high school students and their teachers from the Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley and West Central Area schools to campus for an immersive cross-curricular experience and allowed participants to present solutions to global hunger issues.
The Morris Challenge Rural Youth Institute, held November 9, 2022, included 120 high school students (shown above) and teachers from throughout west central Minnesota. The interactive, one-day event encouraged students and their teachers to create connections and gain the “know how” needed to address the sustainability challenges in their own rural community.
"I found it very interesting how the University promoted conservation efforts and was the cause of the increased popularity of electric vehicles and buses in our area."
—JM, grade 12
"While I was there I learned that there was more than just garbage and recycling, there is also composting, and of course, I’ve heard of this before, but I never realized how effective it can be, and what it does for the community. I think it is incredible that there are other businesses in Morris that have been influenced by this and are starting to compost as well!"
—AS, grade 12
High School Teacher Perspective
"It really opened the [students’] eyes to what wonderful choices they have ahead of them for their future careers. The tour of the campus and programs was engaging, informative, and fun. I truly believe it sparked excitement and possibility for our students.
—Paula Wojcik, Bertha-Hewitt High School teacher
"Even though our school is just 30 miles away, this was the first time any of our students had exposure to the great work that UMN Morris is doing in renewable energy projects as well as the work of the West Central Research and Outreach Center in studying innovative food systems projects. The collaboration between the schools and the leaders at UMN Morris was an engaging change to how students in different schools interact compared to their normal relationships of competition found in sporting events."
—Eric Sawatzke, West Central Area High School teacher