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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Events to Highlight the “Year of Water”

WCC faculty members are creating a greater understanding of environmental issues with a yearlong series of awareness events and activities focusing on Michigan’s waterways.

WCC’s “Year of Water” officially kicked off in July and August with a few awareness activities for students. The momentum for awareness-building activities at WCC has been building for many years, said Dale Petty, an industrial technology instructor. He’s an advocate for environmentally friendly practices at the College and in the community.

“In 2007, then-President Larry Whitworth signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment,” Petty said. “That’s when WCC committed to pursuing climate-neutral practices. After Whitworth retired, President Rose Bellanca re-signed the Commitment, confirming the College’s intent to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions associated with the College.”

The opportunity to connect with colleges and universities across the country to share best practices grew out of the declaration, Petty said. This led to the formation of the Faculty Sustainability Literacy Task Force.

“We have two student groups active in environment-related activities,” said Maryam Barrie, a task force member. “One is connected with our environmental science program, and the other is made up of culinary, hospitality management, and other students interested in sustainable food systems.”

Barrie said that the efforts reflect the ideals of communities surrounding the College that are committed to supporting and sustaining the environment. “We’re living in an area where people are paying attention,” she said. “So I see us just fitting into that community of individuals who are already working and trying to better their understanding about what we need to do here and now.”

“Our intent in bringing a sustainable sensibility into the curriculum is that everyone going to WCC will experience some component of it as a course requirement, even in their computer science and government classes,” said Petty. “The idea is that every student educated at Washtenaw Community College will know about sustainability and climate science.”

Members of the task force became so enthused with the effort to build ecological awareness across disciplines that they declared the 2012-2013 academic year the “Year of Water” and organized a calendar of events to highlight it.

In October, students, staff, and the community enjoyed a seasonal dinner by WCC culinary students. It was prepared, in part, with food donations they solicited from growers and other sources in the community.

For the 2012-2013 academic year, students and the community are encouraged to read and discuss “The Windward Shore” by noted nature writer Jerry Dennis. Dennis was on campus Oct. 24 for a student workshop and public lecture about the book and man’s relationship with the environment.

A number of other activities are planned throughout the academic year. All are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted:

  • Thursday, Nov. 29: Guest speaker Laura Rubin, Huron River Watershed Council, 6:00pm to 7:30pm, Room 202 of the Great Lakes Regional Training Center at WCC.
  • Mid-February: Student tour of a water treatment plant. Details pending.
  • Thursday, March 7: Guest speaker Marc Smith, National Wildlife Foundation, 6:00pm to 7:30pm, Room 202 of the Great Lakes Regional Training Center at WCC.
  • Thursday, April 4: Student nature walk by Fleming Creek. Details pending, register at Student Activities.
  • Friday, April 5: Sustainable dinner and a movie, Garrett’s Restaurant, Student Center building first floor. The movie “Tapped” will be shown in Towsley Auditorium in the Morris Lawrence building. Contact Student Activities for information about tickets.
  • Friday, April 12: Student service project. Water cleanup day and canoe trip, Gallup Park. Time TBA. Register at Student Activities.
  • Thursday, April 18: Student service project. Remove invasive purple loosestrife near Fleming Creek at Park Mills Park. Time TBA. Register at Student Activities.

For more information, contact Barrie or Petty.

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