ECO raises awareness for sustainability at Earth Day celebration

Ryan Anderson (junior, regional planning) plants a sunflower seed at the Student Government Association's table during ECO's Earth Day celebration April 23. (Morgan Cunningham/ The Penn)

Student organizations and local preservationist groups set up information tables and activities in the Oak Grove to celebrate Earth Day Wednesday, a day after the actual holiday.

This event, hosted by Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Environmentally Conscious Organization, was created so students could learn about sustaining the Earth’s environment.

“Earth Day is obviously a big part of being eco-friendly, so we wanted to make sure that we celebrated it,” said ECO vice president Kristen Vander Woude (junior, nutrition/ dietetics).

The cold weather didn’t stop the IUP student organizations from participating in the festivities.

“We have free food samples, customized trail mix, sunflowers and different plants,” Vander Woude said.

IUP’s Student Government Association supported Earth Day by providing soil and sunflower seeds for students to plant as well as a dirt dessert table for students to enjoy dirt pudding accompanied with a gummy earthworm.

Music performances were partially powered by bicycles with equipment from the Evergreen Conservancy, which sponsors bike-powered bands.

Live music performers included bands Moses and Meg and Painted by Millions along with artists Alyssa Hankey (junior, art), Phillip Lien (junior, marketing), Brendan Cope (junior, English), Logan Wojcik (senior, philosophy), Doug Kallin (senior, music) and Gabe Wolford.

Several environmental and food groups participated in Earth Day.

IUP Dining gave out locally grown apples to advocate whole food and local resourcing.

Graduate student and dietetics intern Kiersten Brobst said the food and nutrition department was using Earth Day as a way to promote healthy eating, helping the environment and local farming.

“We picked up some local produce today from Yarnick’s Farm Market and coffee beans that were roasted at the Commonplace Coffeehouse just to help out with Earth Day,” Brobst said.

ECO member Shayna Speicher (junior, interior design and environmental planning) said one reason they were hosting Earth Day was to raise awareness for sustainability.

“I’m specifically working on and talking about a project called the Real Food Challenge, where we’re working with Aramark to make our dining system more sustainable,” Speicher said.

Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity, and Sustainability members were teaching people how to make terrariums, which was described by SEEDS club President Gretchen McCormick (junior, ecology and conservation environmental studies and biology) to be “an eco-system in a jar.”

“One of the missions of our club is to promote and teach ecology, sustainability and conservation,” she said.

“We thought terrariums would be a great way to do that.”

SEEDS club Vice President Amy Binion (senior, biology) said she thinks nature is an integral part to human existence and people should learn to embrace it instead of fighting with it.

“Every day is Earth Day,” she said.