Earth Day Reflection

Hello, Cyclones! Live Green! Campus and Community Engagement Interns, Valentine and Ashley here!

Spring Semester has been a busy one for the Live Green! Campus and Community Engagement team, as we wrap up our final event of the year, celebrating Earth Day! We are incredibly proud of how this year’s celebration went and would love to share some pretty cool highlights of how this year’s event connected campus and community. 

First, with the official recognition of Earth Day, being in its 52nd year – let’s reflect on a little history. 

In 1970, two separate individuals created the concept of Earth Day: peace activist John McConnell, who hosted an Earth Day celebration during the Spring Equinox on March 21, 1970, with help from the United Nations; and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, who hosted an Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970, which more than 20 million Americans participated in. Fifty-two years later, this beloved annual holiday is coordinated by the Earth Day Network and celebrated by more than one billion people in 192 countries across the world. 

ISU celebrated the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day with the theme of, “I’m With Her: Our Planet. Our Home. Everyone Needed”. If you came to this year’s event, on Earth Day, April 22, not only did you get to experience the theme, you got to take home an Earth Day button and commemorate it.

This year more than 300 students, faculty and staff attended ISU’s Earth Day Celebration, for a morning and afternoon of interacting with and learning from nearly 30 campus and community tabling organizations, including one member of the City of Ames Smart Business Challenge, Bike World.  It was wonderful to see the excitement for and commitment to sustainability that each group helped foster!

As well as learning from and networking with tabling organizations, attendees had the opportunity to experience new opportunities for greener living. While always offering a “stay and create” opportunity, understanding that schedules may limit this experience for attendees, we added a “take and create” option to all of our events this year, including Earth Day. Create opportunities for our Earth Day celebration included t-shirt upcycling – creating tote bags, and macrame plant hangers, and also banner and milk jug upcycling – creating tote bags and air fresheners. All “create” options are also included on the Live Green! Pinterest page too.

In addition to creating and networking, each year, Earth Day Celebration attendees are encouraged to also challenge themselves to leave a pledge noting how they are committing to a personal challenge to live more sustainably. As attendees entered the event venue they were greeted by a tri-fold chalkboard prompting them to leave a pledge or make a statement of sustainability for 2022 toward committing their own green mark toward a sustainable future. An additional point of engagement was our Earth Day Celebration photo booth with a variety of fabulous photo props made from recycled cardboard by this year’s OUTSTANDING Earth Day Planning committee members. 

Speaking of this amazing group, while we are thrilled to honor Iowa State’s many sustainability initiatives, organizations and accomplishments at our Earth Day celebration, we would not be able to host this event without the help of our wonderful Earth Day Planning Committee. This group of volunteers helps us brainstorm activities at the event, advertise across multiple platforms and prepare necessary materials. Special shout-out to this year’s fabulous team: Delaney Bishop, Alex Branham, Haley Wegener, Maithilee Bahirat, Mariah Hoeger, Sage Coffman, Valarie Slade. These volunteers worked so hard to make it all happen and they did it so splendidly. 

A few other sustainability features and highlights to mention include our partnership with ISU Catering for delicious fruit infused water, including sweet peach/raspberry and strawberry/orange/mint. Attendees brought their reusable water bottles to fill up, since our event was a zero-waste one. We also received donations from Insomnia Cookies (YUM!!)  to hand out to attendees as they worked their way through the event. And Bike World, a member of the City of Ames Smart Business Challenge, offered mini bike check-overs to attendees.

We were fortunate to have 19 volunteers donating time and effort to help us in pre-event planning and in all that went into setting up, carrying out and tearing down the event on April 22.  GIANT shout out to all of our volunteers: Haley Wegener, Julie Lennon, Kelsey Nehring, Hannah Randall, Delaney Bishop, Jenna Wieskamp, Lucia Rizzo, Reese Cox, Nicole Haverback, Samantha Prigge, Emalyn Polz, Divya Christy, Teresa Wijaya, Isabelle Legan, Sage Coffman and Marianne Aldrich. 

Earth Day 2022 started cool, dark and stormy. The volunteers set up under the Parks library overhang to avoid the rain as much as possible. It was storming pretty hard when Central Stores showed up to deliver our tables and supplies. Lucky for ALL of the set up crew, the team was able to precisely maneuver drop-off and get all tables and supplies unloaded out of the rain. A huge shout out also goes to Facilities, Planning and Management for delivering and setting up (in some VERY rainy conditions) a generator to power KURE and ensure music was ever-present during the event. Finally, kudos to Campus Recreation – Adventure Program for providing yard games, although it did end up being too soggy to set them up. Halfway into our event, the rain cleared completely, the temperature warmed and our celebration ended beautifully. 

Although we were dreading the challenges the rain might bring, the last event of our internship year was SO great, brought much unforeseen joy and offered such relevant anecdotes for future teams. Other than a little less rain, we could not have wished Earth Day to be any other way. For more information about Earth Day, and see ALL the images from this year’s event, visit the Office of Sustainability Earth Day web page

As we finish our internship year, we would like to say it has been so fun to connect everyone to sustainability opportunities during our time as interns. Wishing you all continued connections to ensuring a sustainable future. Our Planet. Our Home. Everyone Needed.

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