Last Friday, students mobilized to celebrate the bounties of the earth by organizing and supporting several Earth Day events held around campus. The campus garden, the ecosystem preserve and the Environmental Stewardship Coalition (ESC) all hosted activities throughout the day.
The campus garden opened its colorful gate for much of the afternoon for seeding, weeding, eating snacks and welcoming the two new bunnies that will be inhabiting the garden.
Senior Sunshine Cahill, manager of the garden, intended for the Calvin community to learn more about the purpose of the garden and its plans for the future including new bees and an outdoor gathering space they plan to build.
Across the Beltline, Calvin’s Ecosystem Preserve held a lecture, tours and festivities to commemorate Earth Day, and the preserve’s 30th anniversary since it was opened in 1985. The lecture, given by Program Director Jeanette Henderson and Preserve Director Randy Van Dragt, focused on the past, present and future of the 100 acre preserve, and showcased how the preserve’s programs have grown to serve more of the college community and the public.
“When I first encountered the woodland and wetlands that are at the core of the preserve, it was a space occasionally used for classes in biology and often used as a hunting reserve by Calvin students,” said Van Dragt. “When access to the ecosystems of the area was provided through trails and pond overlooks, there was a sudden awareness of what Calvin had on this site and how it could benefit the college and the larger community through education and recreation.”
The event also informed attendees of the wildlife that occupies the space, including 256 species of plants, 175 kinds of birds and 27 different mammals. After the lecture, some were even able to spot some of these creatures on tours led by staff members, including Sheila DeVries, who has been working with the Ecosystem Preserve for almost three years.
“The preserve is a hidden gem of biodiversity within the middle of the city,” said DeVries. “It benefits the Calvin community as it offers a place for many classes in numerous disciplines to study and do research, find respite and be inspired.”
Henderson expressed that a main goal of the preserve is to “share the wonder” that it presents and allow the more than 6,000 visitors a year to experience nature a little closer.
“Each day I learn more interesting facts, see something interesting and get to share with others our discoveries,” said DeVries. “I also love learning about how to better take care of God’s creation by working with the plants, animals and people here on the preserve.”
At the end of the day, just when students thought their Earth-endearing festivities had come to end, they had the chance to go dumpster diving with the Environmental Stewardship Coalition (ESC) starting at 11 p.m. After reviewing the principles of diving through dumpsters, students set off to various stores and returned with items ranging from loaves of bread to bouquets of flowers, to a fully functional, hand-held hedge trimmer. Through dumpster diving, students utilized what was thrown away and learned about the waste system in the U.S.