Finding a Bold Future


Augustana Vikings have been — and will always be — those who explore, discover and pursue important undertakings; those who seek adventure and aspire for more than the ordinary; those who are truly interesting people.

Brayden Harris, '22

Brayden Harris ‘22 is majoring in environmental studies and data science with a focus  in philosophy. Harris hails from Brandon, South Dakota, and first encountered Augustana when his father brought him to a football game where he got to meet AU’s mascot Ole the Viking. The memory “made Augie a place near and dear to my heart,” Harris said, especially since he was a high school football player at the time.

Harris enjoys a variety of activities in his spare time, including, volleyball and football intramurals, serving as an Augustana Student Association (ASA) Senator, working as a member of the national ski patrol at Great Bear Ski Valley, and as a member of the recreational services staff, leading Augustana Outdoor Program activities. He also manages to sneak in video games in his free time. Apex Legends, anyone?

Harris is also interested in beekeeping via sustainable efforts, and shared what this could look like on campus.

Q: How did you become interested in beekeeping?
A: One of my first philosophy classes was with Dr. (David) O’Hara, and in talking to him, he helped guide me to the major I wanted (to pursue). He’s been a great mentor and knows I’m interested in the environment in general, but particularly, sustainability. 
Dr. O’Hara approached me with this project of bringing bees on campus. A lot of work was previously done by John Walker ‘22 in terms of receiving clearance from the Augustana Administration and the City of Sioux Falls to make this possible. There are still a lot of questions to address, including: How would having bees on campus impact the community? Do we have the right plants? Where would the hives go? Has landscaping been done to prepare, etc? I spoke to a local master beekeeper Dale Hill, about starting a beekeeping class, what kind of bees would we want on campus, how to distribute honey should we extract it and more.

Q: Are there any bees that are a natural fit for South Dakota?
A: No, all honey-producing bees are invasive, or not native to South Dakota. North and South Dakota produce the most bees for export in the nation. South Dakota has really stringent laws on apiaries to make hives sustainable.

Q: Why are strict laws necessary?
A: Bees are complicated. They are sensitive to the environment around them. They catch diseases, mites and parasites and hives usually have one, if not several, diseases. So, it’s hard to determine what causes hives to die. Diseases can easily spread hive to hive.

Q: What might people not know about bees?
A: If you build a fence by a hive, say 10-feet high, bees will fly up and over it and then fly at that height for the remainder of their flight. If we have bees on campus and build a fence that tall, they would avoid people.

Q: Why are bees so important?
A: Part of it is knowing where your food comes from and how it’s made. I’m passionate about understanding that. Take, for example, my parents; they own cattle, so I get to know the production process — how the cattle are fed, the environmental impact, etc. Bees are super important to our industries. South Dakota ships bees to different places to pollinate different plants. They go to California, Alabama — really any place with a fruit industry.

Q: If we bring bees to campus, where would they go and when are you hoping to bring them?
A: Janae Becher ‘23 and I are shooting to bring the bees to campus in the spring of 2022. They will live by the (apple) orchard.

Q: How do your majors tie into your passion about sustainability?
A: Although my ideal job would be a LEGO set designer, realistically I would like to do emergency management, which is disaster response, emergency planning/procedures, etc. I would like to work for a forest service, too. But, one barrier to entering the field is the emphasis on experience. When you’re up against someone who’s been in the field for 25 years, an educational background in science and technology gives you an edge, so I added a major in data science. I can utilize computers for big data and make myself useful when it comes to data analytics or mapping to solve problems.

Q: If you could share one message with students considering enrolling at Augustana, what would it be?
A: Do it! Augustana is committed to sustainability and becoming a steward of the environment. Also, the university is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion with acknowledgements that campus was once Native American land. Augustana knows where the land came from and how we should use it appropriately.

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