Earth Week activities to highlight sustainability in WU community


Earth Week activities to highlight sustainability in WU community

Derek Richardson

From live animals to digging up the Memorial Union courtyard, Washburn will be hosting a range activities for Earth week, culminating on Earth Day.

The week of April 18–22 will see a range of activities put on in and around the Memorial Union. In addition to the Topeka Zoo bringing in live animals from the Kansas ecosystem, a guest speaker will discuss the importance of prairie grass and free energy-efficient light bulbs will be given away, among other things. Activities will round off with Scorch on the Porch Friday where there will be an Earth Day fair as well as a giant six-foot Earth ball.

“We wanted to highlight what the campus is doing, what Topeka is doing to sustain our Earth, ending with a bang on Earth Day,” said Becky Bolte, Memorial Union director.

The Washburn Sustainability Network will also be talking about their recycling efforts on campus and Chartwells will have their electric vehicle on display.

Bolte said it will be a week full of learning about sustainability and reducing, reusing and recycling. She said there will be fun activities mixed in and there will be food.

One of the major highlights will be Grassland Heritage Foundation’s Kim Bellemer and her discussion on why the Tallgrass Prairie is important. She will talk about common misconceptions about the prairie, why “a bunch of grass” matters and what people can do to help preserve it.

Bellemer’s talk is sponsored by the Washburn Sustainability Network and will occur in the Union Underground at 11 a.m. April 20.

Tuesday and Thursday will be Gardening Day. Students can help transform the Union Courtyard into an inviting “Zen” space. Bolte said the first step will be to excavate the area and lay sand and pebbles for the Zen garden.

“We’re going to dig it all up, and then bring in sand and rocks to create the zen-type feeling,” said Jessi Williams, Memorial Union Marketing.

The project will later expand to include lounge and rocking chairs for meditation and relaxation.

Students are encouraged to sign up to volunteer for Gardening Day from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. April 18 on the Main level of the Union.

The week will end with the Earth Day fair Scorch on the Porch. The East Lawn will have food, games and entertainment, including a six-foot Earth ball students can bounce around and take selfies with. There also will be sustainability booths as well as Ichabod shop deals.

Throughout the week, the Ecobods, a student organization focused on environmental issues, will have their annual plant sale. They will have a table set up in Stoffer Hall near the observatory. There will be a lot of plants and a donations jar. Additionally, there will be a table set up with information about their group at Scorch the Porch.

Lauren Zeller, president of Ecobods, said the group will also have their community garden included in the Washburn Big Event where students can volunteer to clean up and till the soil from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The Big Event will be on Saturday, April 23.

Activities throughout the week include:

  • Earth Week Kickoff (11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) — The Topeka Zoo will have live animals from Kansas’ ecosystem. Additionally, signups for Gardening Day will be available on the Main Level.
  • Gardening Day (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) — Volunteers are asked to help transform the Union Courtyard. There will also be a free T-shirt giveaway.
  • Coffee Talks (11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) — Guest speaker Kim Bellemer will talk in the Union Underground about why the Tallgrass Prairie is important. There will also be free coffee.
  • Gardening Day (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) — A second day of work revitalizing the Union Courtyard. T-shirt’s will be given away again.
  • Earth Day Fair – Scorch on the Porch (11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) — Earth week will ending on a bang with food, games and entertainment. There will also be a six-foot Earth ball for students to bounce and take selfies with.