UNI Business & Community Services Makes an Impact Along the 2017 RAGBRAI Route

University of Northern Iowa

As the summer winds down, Iowans look forward to the start of the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa or RAGBRAI. This ride marks the 45th year of the seven-day ride across the state. RAGBRAI is not only a great opportunity for bike enthusiasts, but a great way to explore the state of Iowa. Riders will visit 40 different Iowa communities during their ride, many of which have been impacted by UNI Business & Community Services programs and projects. Here's just a couple of ways BCS has made an impact along the 2017 RAGBRAI route.

Spencer-Student Entrepreneurship

Spencer native Wes Merrill graduated from UNI with a marketing degree in 2016. During his sophomore year, he was accepted into the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC), an incubator program for students who want to start their own businesses. During his time in the JPEC incubator, he started Thought Top, an ecommerce company that allowed him the opportunity to sell product in three countries, 45 states and work first-hand with large-scale companies. This experience gave the young entrepreneur the experience he needed to continue his business success. Wes remembers his time at JPEC fondly. “Laurie and Bart and everyone were so supportive,” he said. “They told me there's no better way to learn how to start a business than to go out and actually start a business.” Now, the Spencer native has started Digital Tilt, a digital creative agency that focuses mostly on graphic design.

Cresco-Fighting Food Waste

The Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) believes food should be a resource, not a waste, yet Americans throw 40% of the nation's food in the landfill each year. It's harmful to the environment, it hurts the economy and it ignores the 1 in 7 people that are food insecure. Plus, it's not just the food that is going to waste. It's also the resources that went into growing, preparing and transporting the food. Schools are especially susceptible to food waste.

That's why the IWRC visited the Howard Winneshiek Community School District in Cresco to assist in food waste reduction and recovery. While there, the IWRC team conducted a waste sort and analyzed their overall food waste. After analyzing the results, the IWRC was able to provide a detailed report on how the school district could reduce their overall food waste and even created a plan that would help them reduce 10% of their waste over the next year; that's a total of 8,795 pounds of food waste recovery!

To learn more about the ways BCS has made an impact across the state of Iowa, visit our website.