MU prepares for a month of celebrating the environment

This is third year MU will celebrate Sustainability Week.
Frankie Russick / Graphic Designer

Throughout April, various environmental organizations and departments at MU will sponsor events celebrating the environment and the university’s sustainability initiatives.

Some people, such as the Office of Sustainability spokeswoman Alicia LaVaute, have nicknamed April “Earth Month” because of the events celebrated around campus and across the nation, like Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Events available to MU students range from discussion panels with experts to building a 4-ton mountain of recyclables.

P. Allen Smith and the birthday of Thomas Jefferson

Mizzou Botanic Gardens is inviting author and Public Broadcasting Service show host P. Allen Smith to celebrate not only the environment but also the birthday of Thomas Jefferson.

After a birthday celebration for Jefferson on the Francis Quadrangle, Smith will speak at 6 p.m. April 13 at Jesse Wrench Auditorium in Memorial Union South.

“(Smith) knows a lot about Jefferson’s gardens in Monticello and how he prepared food,” Campus Facilities spokeswoman Karlan Seville said. “And afterward, he will also be selling and signing books.”

On the following day, Smith will join MU in two other events.

At 9 a.m. April 14, Smith will go to the MU Child Development Lab’s Children’s Learning Garden event to promote gardening to children.

“(Smith) is really into making gardening a family affair,” Seville said. “Because the Children’s Learning Garden opened only last fall, we wanted to share that garden with (Smith) and get the kids out there in the garden and give him an opportunity to speak to other people on campus.”

Smith will also join the Local Harvest Roundtable Discussion at 10 a.m. in Stotler Lounge in Memorial Union North. The discussion will feature members of Tigers for Community Agriculture, local farmers and agricultural experts from around Missouri, who will discuss the benefits of urban gardening.

Sustainability Week

Many of the celebrations and events will take place during the third annual Sustainability Week, which runs the week of April 21.

“The week is a collaboration between different organizations, the Sustainability Office and the Environmental Leadership Office,” said Jackson Hambrick, Sustain Mizzou’s vice president of projects.

Sustainability Week will launch with a kickoff rally event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the MU Student Center. Students can learn about events taking place throughout the week and enter to win prizes including a bicycle and gift cards to local businesses.

The Environmental Speed Dating Fair will take place from noon to 2 p.m. April 22, at Kuhlman Court behind the Student Center. Students at the event will visit booths where they can learn about various on-campus groups such as Mizzou Energy Action Coalition and the power plant, and off-campus organizations including solar panel companies, Hambrick said.

The Sustainability Office will also work with the city of Columbia to showcase Recycle Mountain between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. April 23 at Speakers Circle.

“The city will be dropping off bale recyclables,” LaVaute said. “We are going to stack them up so that students can see what all of those crushed cans, plastic bottles, cardboard and paper look like to bring awareness to recycling.”

Up to 4 tons of recyclable materials will be stacked to erect Recycle Mountain, Hambrick said.

MU chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council and Student Environmental Design Association will partner to lead the “MU Green Tour.”

“Our environmental architecture programs … are going to lead tours of the campus, showing off what buildings are Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certified and the different environmentally friendly things Mizzou has done to its buildings,” Hambrick said.

Several discussion events ranging in topics from the Keystone XL pipeline to ecofeminism and hydraulic fracturing will also take place throughout the week.

One of the paneled discussions, which will follow the Thursday screening of Gasland Part 2, will feature Diana Papoulias, a recently retired researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey, Susan Nagel of the MU School of Medicine and MU law professor Melissa Berry.

“Dr. Nagel has done some research on how fracking affects the endocrine system, and I’m really excited to hear what she has to say,” LaVaute said.

The week will conclude with a tree planting and creek cleanup event from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. April 28 at Hinkson Creek.

“We’re working with the (College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources) Forestry Department students, (Campus Facilities) Landscape Services and Sustain Mizzou to determine what type of trees to plant, but anyone can help with the tree planting,” LaVaute said.

Hambrick said that though MU is working toward carbon neutrality, not a lot of students are aware of the university’s initiatives or how they can help.

“The university is pretty passionate about sustainability and committed to reducing its (carbon dioxide) emissions and carbon footprint,” he said. “A lot of students don’t think they can do much to lower the carbon footprint, but one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters for the university is students commuting to campus.”

For Hambrick, the Sustainability Week is a way to reach out and inform students who are less aware.

“That’s where the focus of Sustainability Week is: to reach those people and making them aware of issues and what little things they can do like recycling more and using reusable water bottles,” Hambrick said.

MU Energy Strategies Student Advisory Board

The MU Energy Strategies Student Advisory Group, which comprises students from Sustain Mizzou, the Mizzou Energy Action Coalition, the Missouri Students Association and the Graduate Professional Council, is planning an event to present what the group has learned about MU’s renewable energy use since it was started in February 2013.

The presentation will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. April 28 at The Shack.

ESSAG is working with MU professor Fu-hung Hsieh to serve Beyond Meat, a vegetarian protein replacement, at the event.

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