Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Another year, another Earth Week at Augustana

Kevin Donovan
Sierra Club Vice President Ryan Johnson cleans up trash in the ravine area by Westerlin on Thursday. Photo by Kevin Donovan

The week of April 16th to 22nd was Earth Week at Augustana. Student organizations such as the Augustana Local Agriculture Society (Augie Acres), Sierra Club, Geography Club and Biology Club collaborated to set up various events throughout the week.
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22nd 1970. Since then, environmental issues such as global warming, pollution, endangerment of countless animal and plant species along with dwindling natural resources mean that awareness and activism is increasingly important. The first Earth Week at Augustana was held last year.
“It’s organized by an unofficial conglomeration of students,” said sophomore and Augustana Local Agriculture Society president Mikaylo Kelly. “Each group had agency over what they wanted to do. We felt called to do it. “
Kelly said much of the inspiration behind Earth Week came from the reality of being caught in “a pretty bad situation environmentally, on a global scale”.
“At first glance Earth Week might seem kitschy, like a publicity stunt. But we really want to celebrate the reality that we’re dependant on the earth for everything. If even a handful of people reflect on their relationship to the earth, I would be happy.”
Earth Week activities ranged from an audit of food waste at the CSL on Monday, organized by the Sierra Club, to an aromatherapy session organized by Geography Club, as well as cleanups and trash pick-ups in different locations, such as Seminary Hill, the Westerlin Ravine, and the Augie Acres garden.
Sophomore Rachel Hecke, who attended Wednesday’s aromatherapy session, said that although most participants were already aware of topics related to Earth Week, and natural living, it was also an opportunity for discussion. “I came away thinking that I really need to do this in every aspect of my life – just using natural remedies and adopting a more wholesome lifestyle.”
“Events like this keep our campus beautiful,” said sophomore Ryan Johnson, also vice president of the Sierra Club, during Thursday’s ravine cleanup near Westerlin . He spoke about the dangers of having trash build up in areas like the ravine which lead to a body of water, which could eventually contaminate fish and plant species with microplastics which would then move up the food chain.”
Johnson also spoke about the importance of Earth Week events for the Augustana community as a whole. “People get connected with nature and see the impact they have on their environment, as well as the empowerment their work can bring.” Kelly expressed a similar opinion, saying “What we need is a fundamental shift in how we think about our relationship with the earth, and giving opportunities for people to engage with the outside, with each other, these are the small things that give us hope. “
Johnson also spoke about the benefits of having so many student organizations involved. “Working with multiple clubs builds stronger connections . These organisations may be diverse, but it’s important to see that they can put those differences aside and come together for a common cause.”
Visiting assistant professor of environmental studies Olivia Williams agreed that Earth Week was a chance to “get people connected to their own land”. However, she also said that the school administration could do more to support sustainability. “ Earth Week was mainly the students’ responsibility, but we could have more of a focus on sustainability rather than making the campus look nicer”.
Johnson also mentioned the need for more members. “I’d like to have a lot more people involved. A lot of our clubs are struggling with numbers right now. I also like to see more third-party partners and like to extend Earth Day beyond a single day or week – maybe have one in the fall and the winter too.”
On Earth Day, students showed up to help out at the Augie Acres garden to clear trash out of the woods, plant potatoes in a bed in the shape of the Augie A, and shovel through compost.
“I’m an Environmental studies major, so I have a passion for making sure everything’s clean, and taking care of the planet because it takes care of us,” said sophomore Eddison Marske while removing trash from the woods.”
“I feel like there’s a big environmental presence here on campus and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen in the next couple of years,” said senior Nathan Magiera, who was also at the cleanup.
Kelly spoke about the “ridiculousness” of having to have a designated Earth Week at all. “I hope that when I die there’s no longer such a thing as Earth Week – I hope it would seem strange to even have a holiday for the earth, because thinking about it wasn’t something we were forced to do.”
Until then, Augustana students are showing up to keep their campus green. “This is our only home, and we have to take care of it,” said junior Janee Hudgins, shoveling woodchips at Sunday’s clean-up. “Where else are we going to go?”
Photo above: Sierra Club Vice President Ryan Johnson cleans up trash in the ravine area by Westerlin on Thursday. Photo by Kevin Donovan

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Another year, another Earth Week at Augustana