Tahlequah Daily Press

April 23, 2014

NSU students observe Earth Day

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Students and members of the community converged on Northeastern State University’s Second Century Square on Tuesday to spend an afternoon celebrating Earth Day.

The event featured tables sponsored by campus organizations, prizes and music by Chris Espinoza. NSU’s Earth Day theme was “Gather Here. Go Green,” and was organized by the Committee for Sustainability and the Northeastern Student Government Association (NSGA).

“The NSGA has been sponsoring this event for a few years now,” said Tulsa junior Taylor Melone of the NSGA. “We always have someone serve as a student representative on the sustainability committee. We purchase a lot of the materials that go into the event.”

Some of the sustainable items offered at Earth Day included T-shirts, posters and reusable water bottles.

“It’s a lot of stuff to give away free on the day of the event,” Melone said. “There are 10 organizations taking part this year, and it keeps growing every year. They get to represent themselves while they promote a sustainable campus.”

Matt Wolmart Pallie and Ethan Peck were at Earth Day displaying a canoe made of discarded water bottles.

“I didn’t want to just make a canoe, I wanted to make a statement,” Pallie said. “This is just a prototype, but it is an example of recycling, or ‘upcycling.’”

NSU Earth Day began with a sustainability workshop, led by Deb Hyde, geoscience instructor and chair of the Committee for Sustainability. The workshop asked attendees to take part in brain-writing.

“I wanted those who came to the workshop to participate instead of just listen to a lecture,” Hyde said.

“You never know where the next great idea will come from. I love working with college students because they are not inhibited by how things have always been.”

The brain-writing exercise involved each participant writing down ideas about how sustainability could be improved individually and by NSU in transportation, energy conservation, water conservation and waste management.

“I heard ideas about using high speed rail to travel between cities,” she said. “There were also practical everyday ideas, like carpooling, using rainwater, bicycling and walking.”

Hyde said Earth Day helps bring awareness of sustainability issues and practices to students, and said the planet was analogous to a space ship.

“They learn about consumption and conservation,” she said

 “If you are a captain of a space ship, you have controls for navigation and propulsion, but you are most concerned with life support, because you can’t complete the mission if you don’t survive. We need to be protective of the planet’s life support system - air, water, soil - to allow all of the ecosystems to work.”

NSU’s activities were in conjunction with international observances of Earth Day, which is held each April 22.

Events are held worldwide to show support for environmental protection. First observed in 1970, Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in almost every country. There are many communities that have expanded observation to “Earth Week,” often celebrated with activities during the week of the vernal equinox.