Department bikes for cause

GREEN: The UND Geology Department takes to two wheels.


A board used by the geology department to keep track of its miles ridden on bikes, using stickers of a dinosaur on a bike. Photo by Jaye Millspaugh.

The UND Geology Department is encouraging eco-friendly behavior with the image of a dinosaur riding a bike.

The Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering is in the middle of hosting their first ever month-long “Earth-Cycle” competition to encourage biking as a form of transportation, rather than driving a car.

“I wanted to encourage a better world,” said Jaako Putkonen, Earth-Cycle organizer and assistant geology professor. “Biking makes you and me healthier, and it burns less gas.”

The competition began Sept. 3 and will last until Sept. 30. Approximately 20 geology students and faculty are registered and have been tracking their miles by placing dinosaur-on-a-bike stickers next to their names on a chart in Leonard Hall’s geology office.

“We’ve had a very good turnout within the department,” Putkonen said, pointing to the chart. “Some people are forgetting to mark it though, but I know they’ve been biking.”

Although this month is a test-run, Putkonen plans to host another Earth-Cycle month in April, this time inviting the whole university to participate. There will be competitions for both individuals and academic departments to see who bikes the most miles.

Prizes for the top bikers this month include UND socks and gear from the Wellness Center and Grand Forks’ Adventure Racing club but they are working on getting more, according to geology director’s assistant Jolene Marsh.

“We’re also giving away a Bahama Cruise trip, as soon as President Kelley approves it,” Putkonen said, laughing. “Just kidding! I wish we could though.”

Right across the hall from Putkonen’s office in Leonard Hall is a storage closet for geology students and faculty to store their bikes, which he claims never used to be as full as it is now.

According to Putkonen, biking as a form of transportation is very popular among the geology department. There are about five members who ride their bikes everywhere, year-round, even in the winter, so there’s a possibility of having another Earth-Cycle month in January.

“I try to ride mine almost every day, unless the snow is too deep” said Putkonen. “I have very sturdy tires for when it’s icy.”

One of Putkonen’s biggest goals for Earth-Cycle though is to get Geology Department chair Joseph Hartman to start peddling.

“Now if only we could get the department chair to bike,” Putkonen said, pointing to Hartman as he entered the room.

“They’re trying to guilt me,” Hartman said, laughing.

Jaye Millspaugh is the multimedia editor of The Dakota Student.  She can be reached at