New Midwest club focuses on environment
Mary Cohen, Kati Bryant, Patti Peterson & Bill Kimbler, of the Rotary Club of Duluth Superior Eco, help clear buckthorn at the Hartley Nature Center in Duluth, Minnesota, USA, in October. Photo courtesy of Kay Biga
A new Rotary club spanning the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA, is focusing its energies on helping the environment while reaching out to younger members.
The Rotary Club of Duluth Superior Eco, which received its charter in November, meets late Tuesday afternoons at a popular restaurant in Duluth, Minnesota, where members are treated to snacks and a nonalcoholic drink for $5. The location, time, and price are all designed to appeal to younger professionals, who comprise a majority of the club’s more than 30 members.
“Probably 75 percent of our members are young women. I’m in my forties and one of the oldest in the group,” says Kay Biga, the club’s secretary and a Rotarian since 1996. “We also have several members in their twenties, who would typically join a Rotaract group.”
Biga said she began percolating ideas for a different kind of club a year ago, after having drifted away from the club she had been attending. She lined up a few other former Rotarians with connections, including a chamber of commerce member who runs a group for young business leaders.
Selecting a fun location and keeping meetings short were major priorities. Effort is made to keep every meeting under an hour, although Biga notes "a lot of people will order a glass of wine or a beer and stay on. We provide the restaurant with a fair amount of spillover business."
Once a month, the club goes "on the road," and joins the Duluth Chamber of Commerce’s monthly after-hours event in lieu of the usual meeting. "It gets us out, and more people learn about Rotary," Biga notes.
The club has also adopted a decidedly ecological theme in both name and service projects. Each month, the club participates in projects that focus on making a positive impact on the environment or local community. Past projects have included pulling buckthorn at a local nature center and helping a theater company organize its script library.
The club plans to partner with the like-minded Rotary Club of Baikal-Eco Centennial, Russia, for international projects.
This is the first in an occasional series of profiles on new clubs. Stay tuned for more. If you have ideas for a club to be profiled, e-mail us.