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Canyon-land research gets students out of the classroom

Gopher hunting, the Grand Canyon and seeing scientific collaboration up close all made for a good start to the summer for two Bethel College students.

Wes Goodrich, senior from Independence, and Emily Simpson, junior from Smyrna, Tenn., with their biology professor, Francisca Méndez-Harclerode, and her husband, Jerry Harclerode, worked for a week on an environmental impact study at the proposed site of a uranium mine near the Grand Canyon June 7-14.

When Méndez-Harclerode presented the opportunity last spring at a STEM (collective term for the sciences) seminar, the students jumped at it -- Goodrich almost literally. “I raised my hand and stood up before she even finished describing it,” he says.

Méndez-Harclerode’s masters-level research at the University of Central Missouri involved extensive studies with gopher populations in the Black Hills. One of the undergraduate students she worked with was Jo Ellen Hinck, now a toxicologist who leads environmental impact study teams for the U.S. Geological Survey, based in Columbia, Mo.

Hinck has been working with the Canyon Mine study team at a site in the Kaibab National Forest near Tusayan, Ariz., about 10 miles from the Grand Canyon’s south rim. Hinck needed a scientist with experience trapping gophers, and Méndez-Harclerode was looking for a way to give her students a chance to get out of the classroom and do some fieldwork.

The Bethel group joined with others from, in addition to the U.S.G.S., the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Energy, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.

While Bethel’s responsibility was gophers, other individuals or groups were studying other small mammals, snakes, bats, soil, arthropods (scorpions, spiders, insects) or reptiles.

The objectives of the environmental impact study, says Méndez-Harclerode, are to establish pre-mining conditions at Canyon Mine; to determine contaminants of potential concern and critical contaminant exposure pathways; and to survey the plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and small mammals to understand the local food web and refine the list of target species for contaminant analysis.

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Fun the focus of Bethel booth at Mennonite convention

Bethel is ready to engage more than 4,300 children, youth and adults in various ways when Mennonites from across the United States gather for their biennial convention in Phoenix July 1-5.

The focal point of those activities will be the college’s booth in the Phoenix Convention Center. The primary purpose of the exhibit is to invite prospective students to attend Bethel. It is part of the larger Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) area located in the exhibit hall.

Throughout the week, Bethel will invite youth to find a life-size replica of a threshing stone somewhere in the convention center, read fun facts about the college on a banner next to it, fill out a trivia card and return to the booth for a giveaway. At the end of the week, Bethel will again select one young person to choose a good cause or agency to receive a $500 donation from the college. Students will also be able to enter a drawing sponsored by all of the colleges through MEA.

Alumni and friends will gather at the booth, as well. Anyone who stops by can visit with others while enveloped in hundreds of colorful balls in a six-by-six-foot “friendship pit,” chat with student and staff representatives as they lounge in bean bag chairs, watch student-made videos that won Bubbert Awards, and respond to quirky questions posted on a large chalkboard.

Children attending the convention will learn about Bethel and other colleges when they visit the MEA area. Each will be given a puzzle sheet on which they are to identify the state where each institution is located and match pictures and logos to the colleges’ names.

Bethel is planning other activities, too. On Thursday morning, Renee Reimer, Bethel senior from Sioux Falls, S.D., will reprise “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” the one-woman show she did on campus last February. Reimer is giving the drama across the country this summer.

Dr. Perry White, Dalene White and Dave Linscheid ’75, director of alumni relations, will host a gathering for alumni and friends Thursday evening. It will primarily be a time to visit and reminisce, but President White will also give an update on the college.

Bethel students, faculty and staff members will be seminar presenters during the week: Rosa Barrera, administrative assistant to the president; Leland Brown, junior from Galveston, Texas, Caleb Lázaro, director of multicultural life and resident director of Warketin Court; George Leary ’85, alumnus and middle school principal who also teaches some education classes at Bethel; Francisca Méndez-Harclerode, assistant professor of biology; Clark Oswald ’03, associate director of admissions; Michael Unruh ’09, admissions counselor; and Allison Yoder ’13, recent graduate from Kalona, Iowa.

Rounding out the Bethel contingent are Angelina Adame, junior from Newton; Ariane Bergen ’13, recent graduate from Moundridge; Wes Goodrich, senior from Independence; Todd Moore, vice president for admissions; and Kyle Riesen, junior from Beatrice, Neb.

Fourth annual issue of ‘Mennonite Life’ online

The fourth annual online issue of Mennonite Life -- now live at http://mennonitelife.bethelks.edu/-- focuses on Bethel College’s 125th-anniversary celebration.

Articles related to this milestone include Mennonite Life editor and 1996 alumna Rachel Epp Buller’s interview with Keith Sprunger about the process of writing the recently published history Bethel College of Kansas, 1887-2012, along with a review of the book by Susan Fisher Miller; Sprunger’s exploration of playwright Joseph Kesselring, whose best-known play, Arsenic and Old Lace (staged at Bethel in 2013), is thought to have particular Bethel connections; Epp Buller’s detailing of the special student and faculty alumni art exhibits staged throughout the 2012-13 school year at Bethel; 1968 alumnus Gary Lyndaker’s look back at Bethel’s legacy of math excellence, marked this year in a celebration of its 1964 Sweet 16 Putnam competition team; and an article by John Thiesen ’82, co-director of libraries, on the history and evolution of Bethel’s threshing stone symbol.

Creative contributions to this issue include 2013 graduate Natasha Orpin’s winning 2012 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratory Contest entry, The Power of Listening, and a feature on Bethel’s Multicultural Student Union adviser, Caleb Lázaro, accompanied by a very modern treatment of the Thresher mascot that Bethel senior Travon Lewis created with Lázaro’s help.

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Alumnus and colleague to debate Civil War

As the United States commemorates the 150th anniversary of the conflict that tore the nation apart, William Juhnke ’67, Lamoni, Iowa, professor emeritus of American history at Graceland University, will be featured in a Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum program at Kauffman Museum July 7 at 2 p.m.

Tom Morain, Graceland’s director of government relations, will join Juhnke in a debate titled “Point/Counterpoint: Was the Civil War Necessary?” The two will explore the tense political climate of 1860-1861 and demonstrate how historians can disagree without being disagreeable.

For more information, go here.

Golf tournaments in August and September support Bethel

Alumni and friends of Bethel are invited to support the college through its Alumni Association by playing in two upcoming golf tournaments. Both will be hosted by members of the Golf Committee of the Alumni Council.

The 20th annual Summer Thresher Golf Classic and Barbecue will be held Saturday, Aug. 3, at Galaway Creek Golf Course, Henderson, Neb. (The summer tournament is now the first Saturday of August rather than the second due to a change in the date students move in at Bethel.)

The committee will also host the 22nd Fall Thresher Golf Classic Saturday, Sept. 14, at Sand Creek Station Golf Course, Newton.

For registration forms, contact the alumni office at 316-284-5251 or alumni@bethelks.edu, or visit the Bethel College website.