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SJU Highlights Sustainability with Green-Themed Activities

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In its ongoing commitment to promoting ecologically sound practices, St. John’s University hosted several events and initiatives at the Queens campus this spring that focused on sustainability.

Earth Fest 2015, Campus Conservation Nationals 2015, and an Arbor Day workshop offered education about and raised student awareness of environmental issues. “We want to help students better understand why conserving energy and improving the environment are vital,” said Christina Blanchard, coordinator of campus activities. “Our goal was to make these occasions more interactive and engaging.”

More than 900 students attended SJU’s 2015 Earth Fest celebration at the Taffner Field House on April 21. Organized by the Earth Club, Tau Omega Chi–Toxicology Club, Office of Sustainability, Office of Campus Activities, and Student Government, Inc., the event, part of Spring Week 2015, featured sustainability food and gift vendors; educational games like Sustainability Jenga (in which players remove pieces containing rainforest facts from a stack of blocks, trying not to topple them); and a rain forest animal exhibit including an armadillo, a coatimundi raccoon, and a kookabut bird.  “I felt that having animals on-site would help students remember what they learned here,” said Sara Asgar ‘15C, an environmental studies major and president of Earth Club.

Popular Earth Fest attractions included a “smoothie bike” that powered a blender when pedaled. “It’s awesome to be able to use the energy in my body to create something that’s healthy and great-tasting,” said Colby Mrowka ’15CPS, a criminal justice major.

The University’s community organic garden, comanaged by the Earth Club and student coordinators, was the site of an Arbor Day-themed workshop presented by the sustainability office. More than 25 members of the Catholic Student Community club learned how to use “compost tea” to promote the health of campus trees. “As a Catholic University, and as stewards for God’s creation, it’s certainly fitting that SJU takes care of its own physical environment,” said Anna Misleh ’15C, a sociology major.

 St. John’s students also took part in the Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN), a nationwide college competition introduced five years ago to reduce campus water and energy consumption.  For every kilowatt hour of energy saved by the nine Queens campus residence buildings during the contest period, April 10–30, 10 cents were set aside as a donation to the St. John’s Bread and Life Soup Kitchen.

Through the combined efforts of students living on campus, residence halls were able to reduce energy consumption by 8.1 percent, resulting in a $2,800 contribution. “Our focus remains the same as always,” Thomas Goldsmith, director of environmental and energy conservation, observed. “That is, to find meaningful ways of linking conservation with service—a vital part of the University’s Vincentian mission.”