Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, visits with Boreas students.

Boreas Booyas offer a forum for building community through discussions, collaboration and fun. At least twice a semester, we invite special guests to share their leadership insights and lessons. These guests include innovators, change makers and leaders from across sectors. No need RSVP for these events unless noted.

Boreas Booya Location and Time:
Select Thursdays (see below for dates), 4:30 ­– 6 p.m.
IonE Commons, Room R350 of the Learning and Environmental Sciences Center
1954 Buford Ave, Saint Paul

September 22 – Boreas Fall Kick-off
Facilitated by Student Advisory Team
At Boreas we are looking for graduate and professional students (and post-docs!) who are interested in developing as the leaders and change agents society needs to make progress on complex challenges like sustainability. Is that you? If so, get involved with Boreas.

Join us for the Fall Kick-off to learn more about the leadership development opportunities offered by Boreas as well as to meet fellow students from across campus who are also excited to develop their leadership capabilities.

October 6 – Big Booya
Our big event of the year! Join us and our special guests for food, conversation and live music. The Big Boreas Booya has a special schedule and location, check out the Big Booya page for more information and to RSVP.

October 20 – Special Guest, Jamez Staples
President, Renewable Energy Partners, Inc.
Jamez Staples is a Minnesota entrepreneur working to build the renewable energy economy and make it work for everyone. His company, Renewable Energy Partners, develops the clean energy workforce by training people in low-income communities for jobs in the burgeoning solar industry. Meet this engaging business and community leader to hear about his path in business and entrepreneurship and his vision for making a just, clean energy future a reality.

November 3 – Hopeful Engagement in Politics
Facilitated by Student Advisory Team
With the election a few days away, politics is everywhere you look! And while it’s an exciting time for change… politics can also be confusing, draining, and at times disheartening. Join us for a booya that will be the perfect cure for your political doubts and woes. We’ll start with the idea that politics and civic work are how we decide our future together and explore ways to enter into this work with energy, inspiration, and hope. You’ll also get some last-minute tips on how to be a well-informed voter on local to national elections!

November 17 – Special Guest, Larry Herke
Director of the Minnesota Office of Enterprise Sustainability
The State of Minnesota uses a lot of buildings (29 million square feet owned, another 3.6 million leased) and buys a lot of stuff (about $2.2 billion annually). Meet the person responsible for reducing the carbon footprint of Minnesota’s state operations and making them more sustainable, Larry Herke. Mr. Herke will be a few months into this new role in state government, and he’ll share his experiences and leadership lessons. He will also draw from his career in the US military, where he most recently led efforts to drive sustainability in Minnesota National Guard facilities, including aiming to make two major installations net-zero. These efforts were recognized by the Pentagon in 2015 with the Secretary of Defense’s Sustainability Award. Mr. Herke retired from the US Army National Guard as a Colonel in July of 2016.

December 1 – Daring to Have Unreasonable Goals, and Making Them Reality
Facilitated by Student Advisory Team
At Boreas, we encourage people to dream big, to imagine goals that to others may think are unreasonable. And then we like to figure out how to turn so-called unreasonable dreams into real change and impact in the world. Turns out this is not easy. Taking inspiration from the Unreasonable Institute, this booya offer inspiration, strategies, and more for translating the unreasonable into the future we all want.


Booya (also spelled booyah, bouja, boulyaw, or bouyou) is a thick soup of unknown origin made throughout the Upper Midwest United States. Booya often requires up to two days and multiple cooks to prepare; it is cooked in specially designed “booya kettles” and usually meant to serve hundreds or even thousands of people. The name also refers to the event surrounding the meal.

Booya! is also an exclamation indicating satisfaction or accomplishment.

Boreas Booya goals are to enhance the Boreas community through informal gatherings centered on topics with connections to environmental leadership, graduate education, professional development or whatever participants choose. We hope to:

  1. provide a forum to tackle big questions, share insights, get feedback and solve problems
  2. empower Boreas participants by opening up Boreas programming to different perspectives, interests and ideas
  3. cultivate collegial relationships through collaboration and conversation among a diverse group of peers.

Show up! Boreas Booyas are held on select Thursdays from 4:30-6 p.m. during the semester at the IonE Commons, Learning and Environmental Sciences Building, Room R350. All University of Minnesota graduate and professional students and post-docs are invited to attend. No application or RSVP is necessary.

What happens at the weekly Booyas? Anything is fair game, but here are some possible topics and types of meetings:

Topic ideas:

  • building a career that spans traditional boundaries — be it science and policy, physics and economics, or art and conservation
  • preparing for nonacademic career paths
  • urban gardens as a tool for growing environmental awareness
  • input or feedback on an idea for a Boreas project

Types of meetings:

  • share a TED video or other talk and discuss
  • organize a panel and discussion on a specific topic or question
  • discuss a news article or short essay

Anyone is welcome to host a Booya! If you have an idea for a Boreas Booya!, write a short “pitch” explaining your idea and how you envision organizing the meeting (~200 words). Email your pitch along with at least three Thursday dates you are willing and able to host. A Boreas staff member will respond to offer feedback, coordinate scheduling and suggest additional resources or whatever else you need. And if you plan on having snacks or have special food requests, please include this information in your pitch.