With Earth Day on April 22, it’s been an exciting month for the Center of Sustainability. The center hosted events beginning Friday, April 14 and ending Thursday, April 20.
A campus-wide idea contest is open for the entire month of April, allowing all students of the college to participate. Projects can range from student awareness programs to behavioral change campaigns to infrastructure upgrades or installation.
“The idea contest is the big one that runs all month and it’s sort of a big deal because there are cash prizes associated with it,” said Kristy Howell, Sustainability Education and Engagement Coordinator. “There’s the benefit of having your project implemented, so that’s also a big deal.”
Along with the idea contest, individual Earth Day events began Friday, April 14 at the Open Petal Farm and concluded Thursday, April 20. Student volunteers harvested greens, radishes, and peas from the farm to be served at Epicenter’s Farm Lunch on Monday, April 17.
“I take environmental science, so a lot of what I’m learning, in class, is what we’re doing today while farming,” said Veronica Clark, student volunteer at the Open Petal Farm. “Other people should get involved and do this. It’s pretty easy and you meet new people.”
Earth Day events unfolded into the following week starting with the Epicenter on Monday, April 17. Students and teachers from anywhere, on or off campus, were encouraged to register and attend the free conference and the Farm Lunch that was provided. Nationally recognized speakers such as Cynthia Barnett, award winning environmental journalist, and Patty Clark, from the Kansas Leadership Council, spoke on the future of water and what it means for the younger generations.
“Your generation is going to be the one to find the solution,” Clark said. “Urban planning is going to be the place where a lot of things happen. Intersect that, while you’re in college, with some environmental coursework, with maybe some horticultural coursework, with some political science coursework. That’s going to equip you to find a place to work that is rewarding financially, career path wise, and probably for your gut as well.”
Earth Day events continued on April 18 where the Student Environmental Alliance (SEA) held a “Label Table” at Java Jazz in COM from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The SEA provided dishwasher safe labels for reusable coffee cups and water bottles. Later that day, the SEA hosted “NaturePlay”, a documentary narrated by Matt Damon in the Hudson Auditorium. The film takes place in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the U.S., portraying the Scandinavian method of teaching, living and enjoying nature. The film has won seven international awards, including one for cinematography and a global humanitarian award.
“The label table is the one thing we’ve added to support the new coffee initiative on campus where you get to a free cup faster,” Howell said. “We’re anticipating that we’re going to have more folks who misplace their coffee mugs as they bring them more often, but we’re offering dishwasher safe labels to help them get their mugs back.”
Events that were held on April 19 were also ran by the SEA. EarthFest allowed students to participate in easy craft projects with reused materials, play Recycling Jeopardy for a prize and also bring old clothing in good condition for a clothing swap.
The week’s events ended on April 20, at the composting shed near the Open Petal Farm. Students were able to attend an open house run by the Center of Sustainability interns to learn more about composting and recycling options.
“I loved volunteering last year” said Elizabeth Cloud, intern for the Center of Sustainability and SEA student leader. “You walk in willing to do whatever and get a task and you do it and you get to relate to students who either have a background knowledge in environmental science… we could always use more volunteers. There are plenty of ideas we could be doing if we just had more people willing to help.”