April 17, 2012

University to celebrate Earth Day 2012

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is temporarily trading in its traditional maroon and white for green in celebration of Earth Day 2012.

The Student Center and campus will host a variety of special activities spotlighting the University’s environmentally friendly efforts.  The April 23 Earth Day event will feature a Green Fair, green tours of campus facilities, a free bicycle workshop, guest speakers, planting and more.  The festivities are free and everyone is welcome.  In the days leading up to Earth Day, the University’s Sustainability Council and Student Center/Craft Shop are also sponsoring several special promotions.

“Celebrating Earth Day is one way for the Student Center to educate students, faculty and staff about the importance of taking care of our earth.  This annual event provides everyone a time of reflection along with a renewed opportunity to proactively engage in taking care of the valuable resources we are provided,” said Tena Bennett, associate director of the Student Center.

Stop by the Agriculture Building at 1205 Lincoln Drive any time between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for the Green Roof Open House on April 23.  Climb the steel stairs at the exterior of the building, near the greenhouse, and see rooftop plants and vegetable gardens that help keep the building temperature regulated.  Find out more about the project by chatting with Karen Midden, professor of plant, soil and agricultural systems, and other students and faculty who keep the garden growing.

A pair of Green Tours will showcase sustainable sites and initiatives on campus.  Susannah Bunny LeBaron, a speech communication doctoral candidate and Sustainability Council representative, will lead the first tour, beginning at 10 a.m.  Lori Barrow, a forestry graduate student, will conduct the noon tour.  Both tours begin at the Ohio Room in the Student Center.

About 20 registered student organizations, community groups and departments will be participating in the Green Fair, set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Student Center Roman Room.  Find out about green activities on campus and in the surrounding area and pick up informational materials.

Enjoy the acoustic reggae/ rock/funk music of singer/songwriter Aaron Vanvooren while

you visit the Green Fair or dine at the Student Center.  He’ll perform from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Roman Room.

Saluki Spokes, the bicycle repair service at the Student Center, will present a free bicycle repair demonstration and workshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the north entrance of the building.  You can borrow tools and learn how to fix flats and do other minor bike repairs yourself.

The Sustainability Council will have a special ceremony at 1:30 p.m. in the Ohio Room to announce the spring 2012 Sustainability Council Project Awards.  These are projects chosen for funding from the student-initiated and funded Green Fee.  Each semester students, faculty and staff submit proposals for funding to enhance sustainability efforts and promote ”green” research and outreach at the University.  Preference goes to proposals that promote student leadership and research interests, according to LeBaron.

Leslie Duram, professor of geography and environmental resources, and Laura Williams, a master’s student in the program, will offer a collaborative presentation 1-1:30 p.m. in the Ohio Room highlighting food sustainability and how eating local products helps that happen.  They’ll also discuss ways students can “eat local” and become involved in local and organic food production on campus. 

You can help with a couple of planting projects on the Student Center’s west patio that day.  Beginning at 2 p.m., volunteers will help transplant the herb garden from its current location to its new site in the courtyard and add more herbs.  Then about 2:30 p.m. work will begin to plant a “Three Sisters guild” where the herb garden was.  Helpers will plant corn, beans and pumpkins in the patch, using the interplanting technique some early American natives used to survive and thrive even in harsh winters.

Sustainability isn’t just a one-day thought but an ongoing effort at SIU Carbondale, and in the days preceding the Earth Day celebration a variety of other related events are on tap as well. 

Entries in the popular Trash to Treasure Art Show, in which students create art projects using recycled or natural materials or craft projects that illustrate an environmental theme, are on display in the University Bookstore display case through April 23.  You can cast your votes, and the winning artwork will be on display an additional week and its creator will receive a prize.

The Sustainability Council is also launching a Sustainable Saluki Pledge drive during the week leading up to Earth Day.  Stop by the council’s table in the first floor hallway of the Student Center between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. through April 20 and sign the new pledge. 

The prepared pledge states, “I pledge to join SIU Carbondale’s sustainability efforts by developing personal habits that foster social, economic and environmental health.  I choose to use the knowledge and experience I gain at SIU to improve sustainability in the communities where I live, learn and work.”  Or you can create a personalized sustainability pledge.

“The purpose of the pledge is to encourage people to make a commitment to sustainability in their daily lives.  Little habits make a big difference,” LeBaron said.  You can also sign the pledge online at http://sustainability.siuc.edu.

The first 400 students to visit the group at the Student Center or sign up online by that time can get a free stainless steel water bottle.  And that’s not all.  Signing the pledge makes you eligible to join in the inaugural Sustainability Scavenger Hunt. 

The hunt kicks off at noon April 20 as organizers post on the group’s Facebook page, SIUC Sustainability, clues that will lead you to eight campus locations that involve sustainability.  Visit each site, take your picture and send all eight images to the group by noon April 22.  Then, come by the Sustainability Council table at the Green Fair and see what you’ve won.  You can also hear prizewinners’ names at the 1:30 p.m. Sustainability Council ceremony.