‘A Day of Hope’: Students Pass Along Lessons on How to Care for Our Planet
With a DJ pumping out popular music (often with environmental themes) and local organizations and businesses sharing their efforts to protect the Earth, nearly 30 Davidson Political Science students took a starring role at the Town of Davidson’s Earth Day celebration.
After spending the spring semester in POL 228, Prof. Graham Bullock’s “U.S. Environmental Politics and Policy” class, they shared what they’d learned with others. The students erected an Earth Week Learning Village where they presented informational posters and ran interactive, family-friendly activities on nine different topics, from air pollution and climate change to water and waste.
Second-year student Kate Lemire, from New Hartford, New York, teamed up with two classmates to teach visitors about waste with a simple game that challenged visitors to sort waste into three different buckets, categorizing the waste as trash, recyclable or compost.
“Focusing on solutions is an important part of the environmental conversation because it is often dominated by inaction,” said Lemire. “I hope the game also provided insight to an overlooked part of waste generation; sorting. Improper waste sorting can result in a whole bag of recycling being thrown out if a bottle has not been cleaned or it is not the right type of plastic.”
The class assignment was for each student team to provide relevant information about the history and politics of their topic and then also highlight important policies and solutions with hands-on activities. Some focused on local issues – like asbestos and environmental justice in Davidson – while others focused on national challenges – like the Clean Water Act case being decided by the Supreme Court.
The event’s organizers also created a “learning passport” for children that encouraged visitors to stop by each of the nine stations, earning a stamp at each one. Visitors turned in completed passports for a chance to win a raffle hosted by Davidson Parks and Recreation.
The event was co-organized by the Town of Davidson, Davidson Lands Conservancy, and Davidson College, with support from the Center for Civic Engagement, Sustainability Office, and several local businesses.
As Professor Bullock said, “It was an amazing example of what we can do when the College and our students collaborate with the Town and local organizations to create a fun and meaningful experience for the public. Students and residents had a wonderful opportunity to engage and share their knowledge with one another.”
Stations hosted by other participants featured electric cars, solar panels, composting, beekeeping, Earth-friendly health and wellness options, and in some cases attractive freebies, including native plants from the Davidson Lands Conservancy.
“It was a lot of fun to talk with the community,” Lemire said. “I loved the exposure to different generations being genuinely interested in taking action. After constant study of the environmental problems occurring in our world it was nice to have a day of hope.”