Buenafication Day Participants Add Service Reach During Pandemic

Buenafication Day took place across the country this year as students continued the tradition from their homes. In lieu of the traditional day of service, Beavers all over shared their work through photos and videos across social media platforms.

Buena Vista University’s 107-year-old Buenafication Day tradition adopted a new look Tuesday as Beavers took this annual day of service on the road and across the country.

BVU’s campus in Storm Lake closed in March due to COVID-19, as students headed home to complete the spring semester in online classes. Rather than cancel the popular annual day of service, one enjoyed at BVU since 1913, the work went “virtual” as Beavers far and wide shared photos, video, and well wishes while completing service projects that spanned several days and several states.

Sophomore Jacob Hull cut down two trees and did yard work for a family member and friends in his hometown, Alta, while classmate Molly Barten, of McCallsburg, worked to clean Dakins Lake near Zearing. So, Beavers worked to beautify and better their environment in places from A to Z, doing everything from spring-cleaning lawns to writing cards to decorating sidewalks to delivering food and more across a multitude of states.

“I think in some ways it was a stronger Buenafication Day.”

Jacob Hull

“We’ve had snow on Buenafication Day, but nothing like this,” says Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson, BVU Assistant Vice President of Student Success and Director of Community Engagement. “It was weird not having our students on campus because of COVID-19. In many ways, though, having this crisis has pulled people together. And it was awesome seeing our students and so many of our BVU alumni working in their communities, bringing to life our motto, ‘Education for Service.’”

“I think in some ways it was a stronger Buenafication Day,” says Hull, honored this spring as a Newman Civic Fellow for his service commitment. After Hull worked to clear yards of downed sticks and leaves, he began going through his old clothes, sorting items he’s preparing to donate.

Kaitlyn Brinkerhoff ’17, of ISU Extension in Woodbury County, worked to prepare the Marilyn Engle Teaching/Donation Garden for planting. The Woodbury County Master Gardeners use the garden to educate youths and adults about home horticulture while growing more than 500 pounds of produce per year that is donated to local food pantries.

“My final year as a student at BVU (2017), Student Senate worked alongside the Buena Vista Master Gardeners to plan flowers and shrubs at the Buena Vista County Fairgrounds,” says Brinkerhoff, of Sioux City. “Just a few months later, I had the opportunity to become the Master Gardener coordinator in Buena Vista County before transitioning to Woodbury County.”

The environmental sciences major says she has fond memories of running through the BVU dormitories on the morning of Buenafication Day while banging pots and pans, per tradition, to wake students for their day of service.

The banging of pots and pans was also observed throughout the day on Tuesday, with many alumni sharing that tradition through video.

Tatum Hoadley, a junior from Gilmore City, started Buenafication Day with five teammates on Team Wellness as they wrote thank you cards to members of local fire departments, police departments, and staff members of area hospitals and more.

“We made the cards ourselves,” says Hoadley. “The mission of the project was to tell all of those service workers that we appreciate them and that their efforts aren’t going unrecognized.”

Three members of Team Wellness completed cards for service providers in the Storm Lake area, while other team members wrote cards to providers around their communities. Hoadley then spent her afternoon with BVU students and staff members at the Geisinger Student Leadership Center, assembling 1,200 dental kits for distribution through Upper Des Moines Opportunity, Inc., in Storm Lake. Other BVU staff members, students, and faculty pitched in at a number of Storm Lake park sites, working to pick up branches and sticks while raking away the leaves of last fall.

“People put in the effort no matter where they were at,” Hoadley says. “We worked, we had our Buenafication Day picnic (another tradition), and we kept observing social distancing. The day was a big success.”