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The first planning meeting for 2014 Earth Day was eye-opening. More than a dozen people representing a wide range of university and community organizations excitedly put together a plan for not just a day, but for a week, calling it Earth (Every) Day! People did not just propose ideas—they offered to carry them out. Then they did carry them out, as promised.


More than 17 activities were held the last week in April, involving hundreds of students, families, businesses, government agencies, non-profits and more. At the final event, a clear and unanimous call was heard for taking the Earth (Every) Day theme from an abstract concept to an organizational reality. This was the true beginning of Greening Vermillion.


The non-profit called Greening Vermillion is working to make Vermillion “the Greenest Town in South Dakota.” Greening will become a reason for people to both visit and make their homes in the area, and Vermillion will be a model for greening all of South Dakota—one that supports the health of its people, environment, and economy through sustainable, enlightened, and creative practices. Greening Vermillion will help the Vermillion area grow through projects that bring people together to both enjoy and conserve our natural resources.


Greening Vermillion has another goal—to unite the “2 Vermillions,” bringing USD and the community surrounding it together to more fully cooperate through community partnerships and joint planning with city and county officials.


Greening Vermillion has helped to...


  • Organize walks along the Missouri River, our very own National Park!

  • Invite speakers to talk about wind and solar energy

  • Create an updated Vermillion Recycling and Sustainability Guide with the City of Vermillion

  • Host films and discussions on the loss of prairie and other issues

  • Promote reusable bags, rather than single-use bags

  • Educate local leaders about climate change

  • Teach USD students about sustainable issues and practices

  • Organize a successful week of Earth Days activities annually since April 2014

We are educators and students in USD’s Department of Sustainability & Environment, members and activists in many local organizations such as the Sierra Club, and working and retired members of the Vermillion community.


Including everyone, staying positive, reconnecting with nature, living simply, understanding that our Earth needs our help, discovering our own creativity, viewing everyone as a leader, living in an open and fair economy, believing in possibilities, being curious, paying attention to everyone’s needs, and connecting with both friends and strangers to make a better Vermillion—and a better world. This is how we think about our town and the people in it. 

Click here to learn more about the team behind Greening Vermillion.

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