By Sarah Ward
IUSB Sustainability Studies Intern
It was very exciting when I learned I had been offered a summer internship with NUVO and Indiana Living Green writing for their publication. I did not anticipate how rewarding the experience would actually be. My job is to research universities in the northern region of Indiana and write about the things they are doing to move towards a more sustainable future. A sustainable society is created when development and innovation meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.
My first visit was to Goshen College, located in Goshen, Indiana, where I met with Glenn Gilbert who runs the office of sustainability. This is a small private university, with only about 900 students, but they are making amazing strides in the sustainability movement.
The first thing I noticed was how green and beautiful the campus was and every single bike rack was full (700 bike racks on campus). There were butterflies, bees and birds everywhere this is due in part to a student proposal that wanted to use an area on campus where turf grass was and replace it with a rolling prairie. The first seeds for the prairie were planted in 2009 and now it has a diversity of plants, grasses, and flowers. Prairie plants have deep root systems that help them survive dry periods and they enrich the soil. This is why they were removed by farmers, because the dirt was considered “Black gold.”They are continually finding places to create more prairie land.
An activist group on campus called Eco Pax and Gilbert also implemented composting in their dining hall and student volunteers remove the waste and put them in composting bins outside. The compost is then used as mulch around the campus or for soil for planting. They have a fresh herb garden bordering the dining patio outside where the cooks can come and pick what they need for the day. I was very impressed with how involved the students were and how much they were doing. The students and Gilbert built a solar panel which heats the water for the dorm room showers which is really cool. They also built the Merry Lea building which is LEED platinum certified, the first building project in Indiana to earn platinum certified, and it is a 1,150-acre nature preserve and environmental learning center. They are really making changes and it was inspiring to see ideas come to life and working.
During my internship, I am learning about new and innovative ways campuses and communities are reducing and eliminating their use of substances extracted from the earth’s crust, reducing their contributions to systematic accumulation of substances created by society, reducing their contribution to the physical degradation of nature, and not undermining peoples’ ability to meet their own needs. I am then able to share this information with the public, co-workers, family, and friends who can hopefully be inspired to make a change as well.
Can’t wait for my next adventure!