Despite the pandemic, Fairmont State University’s Creative Sustainability Council has been working to ensure that the 50th annual celebration of Earth Day on April 22 does not go unnoticed. This year’s objective is to educate about sustainability practices, acknowledge efforts made thus far, and remain hopeful for the progress that is to come.
The council originally planned an Earth Day event on campus, but given current circumstances the event has been relocated to a virtual space. Fairmont State’s Earth Day celebration was not the only Earth Day event faced with complications. Organizations, departments, and universities from all over the state have teamed with the Creative Sustainability Council to construct a virtual statewide Earth Day celebration. Members have been utilizing Webex to communicate, collaborate, and overcome social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
The virtual Earth Day celebration will be accessed through LibGuides and will incorporate a diverse agenda, including: virtual yoga, meditative art/reflection sessions, informational sessions on electric cars and composting, a walkability study, additional resources from universities and organizations all over the state, and even a virtual speech from published author on climate change, Paul Brown.
An online guide will be available as a resource for students of all ages, parents and community members. There will be several events that occur at specific times on Wednesday, April 22, most resources will be available for access at any time. The guide can be found at www.fairmontstate.edu/earthdayguide20 .
Stephanie DeGroot, construction project manager at Fairmont State, wanted to create a way for everyone to get involved even while being distanced. She discovered Litterati-Cleaning the Earth, an app that empowers individuals to make a significant, measurable impact on the environment.
“The app uses an AI to tag the types of litter collected. I instantly knew this was it, this needed to be part of our Earth Day celebration,” she said. “Individuals can simply download the app and search by our challenge name, Fairmont State Earth Day, or use our challenge code, 371374, to join. We challenge all that are interested to pick up 50 pieces of litter in honor of Earth Day's 50th anniversary.”
The Abelina Suarez professorship, awarded to Dr. Erica Harvey in the spring of 2018, provides a platform and support for the work of the Creative Sustainability Council.
“Creative Sustainability Council is a fun interdisciplinary group of students, faculty and staff members who are collaborating actively with members of the local community, Marion County Solid Waste Authority, and partners from other universities on student-led sustainability projects and grant proposals,” Harvey said.
For example, the Council has an ongoing collaboration with local community members to repurpose plastic bags into crocheted sleeping mats, one of many initiatives included in Virtual Earth Day.
“It’s been a busy few weeks for everyone involved, but working with such energetic and creative students to make this event possible is really rewarding,” Harvey said.
Creative Sustainability Council members and others who contributed to the planning and execution of WV Virtual Earth Day 2020 include Barbara MacLennan, her Geography and her ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, Charley Hively, MacKenzie Sorton, Kelby Hall, Sarah Starcovic, Zachary Fancher, Angelica Starcovic, Siegfried Bleher, Ashley Ruza, Lindsey LaNeve, Jan Kiger, Nathan Myers, Tom Cuchta, Stephanie DeGroot, Evan Fossen, Alicia Kalka, Alexis Keller and Erica Harvey. Amy Parsons-White, Sustainability Manager for Marshall University, and Stephanie Toothman from WVU Sustainability have also been involved.
Student organizations will have an active social media campaign in conjunction with the event. You can follow along: @fairmontCSC on Twitter and Facebook, @FairmontStateCSC on Instagram, and Creative Sustainability on Youtube. The following hashtags will also be used #WVEarthDay2020, #WVCitizenScience2020, and #SoarFalcons.