Last Saturday, millions of people celebrated Earth Day to promote and advocate for environmental protection. Southern Oregon University dedicated an entire week to this annual day of awareness. Campus-wide events included guest speakers, film screenings, hands-on environmental workshops, potting plants, and more. This year, major themes included plastic pollution awareness and bee protection.
Throughout the week many clubs and organizations teamed up to promote each other and their events. The Bee Team and the SOU Farm got together for tabling and to encourage students to participate in the Pollinator Habitat Planting event. Students rolled up their sleeves and dug up dirt to transform parts of the SOU campus into a welcoming environment for bees and other pollinating insects.
This was the Bee Team’s first Earth Day event and they were excited to recruit new students and to share the importance of pollinators. President of the club Danielle Cox said, “We’re excited to reestablish the club.” They received a Green Fund grant which gave them the opportunity to establish five new colonies on campus. Soon, they hope to collect enough honey to sell to students on campus.
As new plants appeared on campus, student and ECOS Civic Engagement Program Coordinator Luis Berrios-Hayden saw other benefits to Earth Week. “I’m going to school to bring diverse people closer to nature, and it’s happening here right now,” he said. The multitude of events gave students the opportunity to engage with people they may have never met before. The hands-on volunteer events not only increased campus beatification and sustainability, but also brought the student body closer.
The Farm at SOU not only promotes sustainability but also community outreach. SOU Farm Mentor and Americorps volunteer Darcey Blye said the SOU Farm uses Earth Week to promote student involvement, education programs, and healthy eating. They also help with the logistics of beekeeping, host seasonal events for the university and the community, and offer summer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSA is an opportunity for community members and students to purchase and receive fresh produce weekly straight from the SOU Farm.
OSPIRG took advantage of that same idea at their second annual Pollinator Party where the main focus was to pledge for the removal of harmful pesticides. Event coordinator Nina Friedman said the pledge is a part of the “Think Globally, Act Locally” movement, and the party itself is a “Fun element to a serious issue. We want to engage and inform students about issues within sustainability.” Many organizations joined the party and contributed to the event. Beekeeper Association attended along with Bee Campus USA who showed students how to make seed balls which helps plants grow in a simple and effective way. The party also included a raffle, live music, donated food, and drinks.
Earth Week at SOU brought students together to learn and engage in the protection and sustainability of the campus and the earth. And although Earth Day is intended to be an annual event, Blye reminded us that, “Earth Day is every day.”
If you would like to get involved in any one of the clubs or organizations that participated in Earth Week, contact them through their Inside SOU page or on SOU Connect for more information.