Friday, March 30, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Monday, March 26, 2012
Last Wednesday, some of the River Stewards were given the opportunity to visit East End Community Center to present to an after school program there. After weeks of planning and rescheduling, 7 Stews from the 2014 cohort piled into the van and headed to East End. The group of about 25 students greeted us with enthusiasm and excitement to hear from college students about the aquifer and the City of Dayton.
We began by introducing ourselves to the kids, telling them a little bit about what we did in River Stewards, and giving them an overview of what we were going to talk about while we were there. After the introductions, we jumped right into our activities for the afternoon. First on the list was the gallon game. We split the group into five teams and had them guess how many gallons of water were required for everyday activities such as brushing teeth, washing clothes, taking a shower, etc. For the most part, most of the students had a good sense of how much water was necessary for each daily activity. Next, we built an aquifer model in a fish tank using sand, rocks, clay, felt, and water. Just as in the last activity, we wanted to gain a sense of how much they already knew about aquifers. Some students had a broken understanding of what they were, others had no clue. When asked what an aquifer was, we received answers such as "something that lives underground," "an underwater animal," "a kind of river," and "a big filter." We then explained to them in more detail what exactly aquifers are, why they are beneficial, and how Dayton has the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer. We also showed them how pollution affects the aquifer and our rivers by using food coloring to “pollute” the model. All of the students enthusiastically participated in the demonstration and had great questions to ask.
To reiterate everything we had just discussed, we built another aquifer model. But rather than using rocks, we used ice cream. Each student built their own model and as we gave them each layer, they told us what they thought it represented. This was definitely their favorite part of our presentation. After they were finished with their ice cream and the sugar-rush kicked in, it was a bit more difficult to keep them interested in the last activities, but with some patience, the interactive timeline and map of Dayton wrapped up the program.
It was a great experience working with the kids at East End. We all enjoyed listening to their questions, watching their understanding of their surroundings grow, and sharing our love for our environment.
Monday, March 19, 2012
I arrived in Muncie, IN at 2:00am on Monday morning and after a restless attempt for sleep, I began my journey into the world of sustainability and higher education with a 7:00am walk to the Student Center. After registering and appropriately being given the paperless conference proceedings on a USB flash drive, I found myself in the Cardinal Room, full of about one hundred and fifty unfamiliar faces; needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed. I inconspicuously settled in the back of the room, and after a quick breakfast, the day’s events began. A welcome by Terry King, the university’s provost, was followed by an introduction by the conference chair, Robert Koester, of the morning’s keynote speaker, the great sustainability innovator and leader David Orr. I had read about Orr’s efforts, especially his leadership and vision key to the Lewis Center at Oberlin College, in his article for Bartlett and Chase’s 2004 book, Sustainability on Campus. Orr and Oberlin College are both at the forefront of utilizing the college campus as an engine of change for sustainability and have embraced the importance of higher educational institutions as the drivers of sustainability in society through a systems-based, collaborative, and locally and regionally inclusive model.
Invigorated by David’s vision, I eagerly went off to my first panel discussion, led by Chrissy Cooley of Pacific Lutheran University; the panel was entitled Bottled Water Bans on Campus: No Excuses. I had been awaiting this panel since I saw it in the program over a month ago. This panel would provide great examples and benchmarks for our senior project, as well as provide networking opportunities with other colleges and universities that have successfully accomplished our intended goal of some form of a ban on institutional sales of bottled water. I was surprised how interactive the panel was. It began with a presentation of PLU’s narrative of their bottled water ban.
Well, its just before lunch and there is much more to the day. I hope to recap the rest of today in greater detail after the conference is over, as well as expand upon the bottled water ban panel discussion. Also, tomorrow’s post will include highlights of the day so that I can encapsulate the entire day’s events within the post.
I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. - Martin Luther King Jr.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Over the University's "spring break" I was privileged enough to be given the opportunity to return to my high school in Ironton, OH to to carry out a segment on Caring for God's Creation with the 7-12 grade Religion Classes. Luckily, my mother is the religion teacher and she allowed me free reign so long as I tied it back to stewardship...aka River Stewards.
Prior to my arrival the students completed a worksheet dealing with their watershed and a preview into water stewardship; they also watched Blue Gold: World Water Wars. This gave them a general sense of a discussion into water resources (as well as scared them a bit). Then, I helped them map where our town obtains its water, how our society cleans our water, why we clean our water, and how the energy is generated. By the end of the discussion, the students were generally confused. Then, they had their "Eureka moment" where they realized, "This system doesn't work."
I also threw in some sustainability facts into the discussion. Mainly, I gave them a worksheet tracking their habits on conserving water, waste, energy, and general environmentally friendly habits. I enjoyed seeing them understand how their habits affected them in other parts of their lives. At the end of the session, I challenge them to choose one habit from each section and to work all month on changing that particular habit. My mother is following up with them in the coming weeks to see if any of their habits have been altered as a result of this.
Overall, this experience was priceless and I look forward to interacting with more students in the future. I believe that by exposing my generation and the generation below me to issues that deal with building a sustainable future, then we will witness great change in our lifetime.
With River Love,