Justin Minyard

About Justin Minyard

Blues Go Green with Various Events to Celebrate Earth Day

COLUMBUS, Miss. (Press Release) – Mississippi University for Women has organized multiple events in conjunction with Earth Day to support the university’s sustainability initiatives and promote green living.

“Earth Day is a day set aside to educate all about sustainability. Many of today’s environmental issues seem larger than life, more than one person can tackle,” said Dr. Nicole Turrill Welch, who is coordinating The W’s Earth Day activities. “Earth Day is a time to discuss how simple actions and choices in our daily lives can, collectively, improve environmental conditions.”

As part of its Earth Day celebration Tuesday, April 22, The W will unveil its butterfly garden across the street from Hogarth Dining Center. The event will take place at noon with other activities scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the same location.

The perennial garden near Hogarth is being converted to an ecologically-sound butterfly garden with hopes of attracting butterfly species native to this region, according to senior biology major Jonathan Jensen, who is using the opportunity for his independent research project.

“An understanding of the interactions between plant and animal species and how the biodiversity of one can affect the other is vital to this goal,” he said.
“Also, if successful, it would be an example of how even a relatively small patch of flowers for the butterflies and host plants (caterpillar food) can increase the number and variety of species found on campus. Perhaps it could even serve as either a template or inspiration for future projects,” Jensen added.

Jensen is working closely with Dr. Paul Mack, associate professor of biology; Chris Harding, landscape operations manager; and Dianne Patterson, Oktibbeha Chapter of the Audubon Society. Members of the Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society will help plant the garden, and will be available on Earth Day to explain the garden.

About 50 students enrolled in environmental science and botany classes will assist with activities on Earth Day. Many other students are involved with making the event a success.

Environmental science students will guide participants through the calculation and interpretation of their ecological footprint. People will learn how to reduce their ecological footprint by becoming better educated on small actions that have large impacts such as using compact fluorescent light bulbs, unplugging chargers and turning off lights.

Students in economic botany will show a list of foods purchased by typical college students and describe the ecological impact of each food item. More ecologically smart alternatives to each food item will be presented. There will be a map of the Golden Triangle showing locations of farmer’s markets and sustainable agriculture operations.

There will be friendly competition between the colleges to see which college can collect the most recyclables April 22-23. The winning college gets a trophy and recognition on the university’s webpage.

Students will educate participants about recycling services in the Golden Triangle, and buttons will be given listing what can be recycled on campus in the blue bins.

On Earth Day, faculty and staff will form teams to participate in an obstacle course created out of recycled goods.

Welch said, “While MUW has always been conscious about conserving energy and recycling, just to name two examples, recent sustainability initiatives have resulted in significant reductions in campus impacts on the environment.”

Energy saving measures in place include:

  • The State Institutions of Higher Learning has established a goal of reducing by 30 percent the energy use of public universities by the end of FY 2015, compared to an FY 2006 baseline. The W has met this goal and the Campus Sustainability Committee will assist with efforts to exceed it.
  • LED lights have replaced metal halide bulbs in the street lights. The conversion allows for brighter street lamps, while reducing energy consumption by 55 percent per light.
  • The lot behind Kincannon and Jones halls has been converted into green space, featuring park benches and trees.
  • A water fountain replacement program is under way for all of the residence halls.

Nora Miller, chair of the MUW Sustainability Committee, said, “MUW’s initial sustainability efforts have been focused on energy management through energy controls and the replacement and retrofitting of existing systems. In addition to continuing with these efforts, the Sustainability Committee will help us to build awareness and to change our collective behavior so that we can each contribute to sustainability.”

Welch said, “We are excited to join other colleges and universities throughout the United States in Earth Day’s celebration of all that the Earth provides for us, and all that we can do to sustain Earth’s natural resources.”

To learn more about The W’s sustainability efforts, please visit: http://web3.muw.edu/green.