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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Central Community College-Columbus, Columbus, Nebraksa, USA

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Central Community College-Columbus, Columbus, Nebraksa, USA
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Registered: December 2009
City/Town/Province: Columbus
Posts: 1
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My name is Taylor and I am a mechanical engineering student at Central Community College-Columbus in Columbus, Nebraska. I wanted to hone my leadership skills in preparation for my future career as an engineer so this fall I joined the local chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the International Honor Society for two-year colleges. Each chapter has several officers; The Vice President of Leadership position was open this fall, so I ran and got elected. Our chapter had been focusing on raising environmental consciousness on campus so my first major project was to organize a campus-wide litter cleanup. I had signed on to become a better leader but never dreamed that I would end up helping to save the environment.
My committee and I faced a unique problem. Our chapter is small and located on a small campus; we had to find a way to make the project large enough to make a significant environmental impact yet small enough to be manageable by our members. In addition, one only had to look at all the litter our chapter had found outside the dorm during our cleanup in the spring to see that most students could not care less about what impact their actions had on the environment. Our first task was to get enough students interested so that we would have enough help for the cleanup. My committee and I printed and posted signs advertising the event. Then it came to our attention that the instructor who teaches the Environmental Science (ES) class wanted his students to partner with us in our recycling and litter cleanup efforts for their semester project. His students were glad to find a project addressing a real-life issue on campus and pitched in. They got permission from some of their other instructors to do in-class presentations encouraging recycling awareness and participation in the cleanup. In addition, they made a poster for our booth where we were signing students up for the cleanup. Last but not least, the ES students made us a stencil that said “PLASTIC” and “ALUMINUM” so we could spray-paint permanent labels on the recycling cans our chapter had set out around campus.
The ES instructor also teaches a big biology class. He encouraged those students to join us and offered extra credit to those who did. One of our chapter advisors, who teaches biology and human anatomy, urged his students to help preserve the environment. In addition, I got the Keep Columbus Beautiful office to supply us with tools for the cleanup, such as rubber gloves, trash bags, and grabbers. This ensured that my committee and I could provide our helpers with a safe working environment and protect them from harmful litter.
We scheduled two cleanup times, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon of November 19, 2009 so that the maximum number of students could help out. Many students had expressed interest in helping, but we were a little nervous as the day approached; in the past, getting non-members to help out with our projects had proved almost impossible and even many members had not been very active. However, ten people showed up in the morning, including three non-members (at least one of them from the ES class), one of our advisors, and the instructor who teaches the ES class. In the afternoon, we had eleven helpers, including one advisor (not pictured), and seven non-members. We emptied the recycling cans, picked up litter, and collected books for donation to the Better World Books Drive. In addition, our cleanup groups collected old paper that instructors wanted to dispose of. We collected two bags of aluminum cans, five bags of plastic bottles, two bags of litter, two trash cans full of paper, and nearly forty books. The number of people involved and the amount of waste collected no doubt seem small, but this is proportional to the size of our campus. The ES and biology/anatomy instructors praised my committee and me for getting as good of a turnout as we did, for the campus looked much better after we were finished.
We were also pleased to find that environmental awareness on campus is much greater than when we started our green awareness projects earlier this year. At the spring cleanup only five Phi Theta Kappa members showed up; this fall, eighteen people total turned out. We found a large number of cigarette butts laying by the dorm in the spring but this fall very few. In addition, the large amount of waste we have collected from our recycling containers, not just on the day of the cleanup, but throughout the fall, lets us know that students are starting to care more about keeping their campus beautiful. Our chapter will continue our efforts at conservation next year to achieve even higher levels of beautification on campus. Everyone who helped felt very privileged to have made such an impact on the campus environment.
My success in leading this cleanup inspired me to believe that I can do more for our environment. I felt discouraged going into this project, thinking, “How can so few of people do anything worthwhile?” I found that numbers mean little when the people involved have the kind of determination we had in tackling the project. I want to help our planet everyday by choosing to recycle and conserve and someday when I’m an engineer to make sure that all of my projects stay environmentally focused so that we have a green planet to pass on to our children.
· Date: December 29, 2009 · Views: 3328 · File size: 56.9kb, 121.7kb · : 600 x 450 ·
Hours Volunteered: 40
Volunteers: 18
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 18 to 57
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 0.8
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 135
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