Celebrating Earth Month at Iowa State

Our wonderful Honors student, Lauren Young, is back writing a blog on her Earth Month experience! In celebration of the many sustainable activities that go on in the Ames community throughout the month of April, Live Green! creates a comprehensive calendar that highlights events at ISU and in Ames, and The Green Umbrella holds a week of fun activities throughout Earth Week! Now without further ado, here’s Lauren!


Hello, it’s me again! My name is Lauren Young, and I’m currently an undergraduate doing research with the Office of Sustainability. As you might know, the April 22nd was Earth Day but you might be surprised to learn that the entire month of April was Earth Month!

Over the past month, I tried to attend a multitude of events around the Ames area relating to sustainability in celebration of Earth Month. Since sustainability is made up of three main facets – environmental, economic, and social sustainability – the events varied from Greek community philanthropies to a speech by Bill Nye (I know, exciting right?!).

1. Social Sustainability Within the Greek Community

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As a member of the the Greek community I had the opportunity to attend numerous philanthropic events put on by Greek chapters this month.

The first was Alpha Chi Omega’s Quesadillas, which benefitted the Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support (ACCESS) and promoted sexual assault awareness. The quesadillas were terrific, there were chips and guacamole, and the meal was topped off with Insomnia Cookies! What more can a girl ask for?

My own chapter also put on a philanthropy event earlier this month, Pi Phi Taco Time. We served extra-large walking tacos, and the money raised benefits Read>Lead>Achieve, an organization that promotes literacy. We also held a book drive in which people could donate books for children in need and be entered in the a raffle for prizes.

The last Greek philanthropy I attended was Mac Attack, put on by Delta Delta Delta sorority and Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. The event included delicious macaroni and cheese bowls and a complete topping bar (swoon). The proceeds went to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Each of these events cost $5 a ticket, and they were a great way to purchase delicious food while also giving back to some amazing causes (benefitting social sustainability) and supporting my fellow members of the Greek community here at Iowa State.

2. ISU’s Upcycled Fashion Wins Best in Show

I also had the opportunity to attend this year’s Iowa State Fashion Show. As a fashion lover, this was extremely exciting for me and I had a wonderful time. From the people backstage, to the designers and even the models, everything was organized by ISU students. The stage decorations were gorgeous, and I loved all of the runway garments.

At the end of the program, awards were given to the designers, including an award for Best in Show. The Best in Show award was given to a young woman who created looks inspired by and created with recycled office supplies. It was awesome to see such beautiful garments made from upcycled materials like post-it notes. And best of all, the designs were eco-friendly!

3. A Call to Action from Bill Nye

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One of my favorite events from Earth Month was attending a lecture by Bill Nye. It was a bit of a drive since he was speaking at Drake University in Des Moines, but the lecture was definitely worth it, and I reduced my carbon footprint by carpooling with friends! (Yay, sustainability!)

The lecture took place in Drake’s basketball stadium, and the venue was absolutely packed. I ended up standing on a railing because all the seats were taken. Bill Nye’s lecture covered a variety of topics. He began with his family history and his father’s fascination with sundials, then he spoke about his work on the Mars rovers, and finally he addressed climate change.

Nye recently released a book about climate change, and during his lecture he really stressed that we, as young college students, have the responsibility to make a difference. Halfway through the program, Neil Degrasse Tyson called Nye and we got the hear their conversation over the microphone. My inner nerd has never fangirled so hard.

Nye then took questions from the audience, which included an intense discussion about terraforming other planets and also Bill wonderfully explaining to an adorable young child why he believes in infinity. It was an amazing experience and eye-opening overall and I hope he comes to speak at Iowa State in the future.

4. Showcasing Diversity at the ISU Cyclone Market

On a beautiful Saturday morning, I headed over to the Cyclone Market. This was an outdoor event held in the Jack Trice Stadium parking lot. Organizations set up tables to promote their cause, and some sold food and gifts to fundraise.

I personally though that Team PrISUm’s solar powered car was really cool. There were also cute little succulent plants for sale that caught my eye. I bought a heavenly mango smoothie for $1 from one of the multicultural organizations, and it was a perfect icy treat as the day started to heat up. The spring football game followed Cyclone Market, and I managed to get seats in the very front row – where I also got a wicked sunburn.

5. Celebrating Earth Day on the ISU Campus

On April 22nd, the Green Umbrella student organization and the Office of Sustainability hosted Earth Day at ISU! Held on a Friday this year, the event was located on the south library lawn.

The venue was full of campus and community organizations that support sustainability and eco-friendly living. There was a small pledge wall where students were prompted to share how they are friendly to the Earth. There was also a stationary bike that produced enough energy to power a computer, high tech solar panels, and a wind turbine! Unfortunately I could not stay at the event for very long (since I had to hurry off to class) but it was still fun to walk around even for a little while.

I celebrated Earth Day in my own way later that afternoon by enjoying the outdoors and having some zen time laying in my hammock.

6. Exercising for a Cause with Happy Strong Healthy Magazine

The last event I was able to attend during Earth Month was a 5K put on by Happy Strong Healthy magazine, which is a new campus organization. The magazine features lots of articles on mental, physical, and emotional health in a college setting.

When I first signed up for the 5K I fully intend to run the race, but when I got there I found some friends and we decided to just walk together. It was a beautiful spring day and the 5K took us on a great route on and off campus. I got to spend some time talking with friends while meeting my daily step goal on my FitBit. It was a great way to end the month!

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Overall, going to all of these events was immensely rewarding. It forced me to really get out of my comfort zone and appreciate what goes on in and around our community every April. Instead of just sitting inside studying or watching Netflix, I got to explore campus, learn about the environment, meet new people, experience new adventures, and give back to the community – all while being sustainable!

It was a very successful Earth Month, and my experiences are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s an incredible diversity of sustainable events and opportunities here at Iowa State University if you just start looking!

I’m so happy to have been given the chance to work on this project. I have learned so much about sustainability and have gotten some wonderful and unique research experience. It has been rewarding to do something that positively impacts ISU and I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity. I hope getting to see some of my experiences through this blog have inspired others. So long!


Author: Lauren Young
Editor: Laurelin Haas
Featured Image: Grace Lee

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