Courtesy of Student Government
With Earth Day less than two weeks away, Wake Forest celebrated early with Student Government’s Earth Week, which ran from April 4-8.
Beginning Monday and continuing through Friday, Student Government-sponsored environmentally friendly activities each day to raise awareness for the environment. The week’s events included: Plant-Forward Pop-up, Pie for the Planet, Cookie Decorating and Plants and Ice Cream, respectively.
Junior Drew Skilton and the Physical Planning committee co-chairs have been brainstorming these events for several months, hoping to gain student interest in environmental issues.
“We’re just trying to spread some information and trivia and some facts,” Skilton said. “We’re just creating engaging things where students can take away something but are also still learning about some fun earth facts and ways that they can help the planet, conserve water or save energy.”
Student Government partnered with the Office of Student Engagement to run and create events — many were funded by the Student Activity Fee Fund and the Office of Student Engagement. The Office of Sustainability also offered guidance along the way.
One of the events, Pie for the Planet, raised over $125 for the Piedmont Environmental Alliance, a nonprofit organization that aims for a healthier, more environmentally sustainable community. Freshman Addison Schmidt, a local to the Piedmont-Triad area attended this event and recognizes the positive impact this event will have on the region.
“As someone from Winston-Salem, it’s wonderful to see them helping out a local organization that can help in our immediate area,” Schmidt said.
Throughout the week, Student Government’s primary goal was to increase student consciousness of various present-day issues like pollution, climate change and natural resource depletion. Schmidt recognizes the significance of doing so.
“Earth Week is important because it helps raise awareness for environmental issues, and it helps students get involved and get excited about environmental issues,” Schmidt said.
Connor Deir, a freshman senator in Student Government, recognizes the importance of this week and highlights how celebrating Earth Week on campus provides easy access to information for students.
“It’s just really important that we can shine light on the environment, climate change and things like that, and that we can make sure that students have a way to get involved,” Deir said. “It’s an easy way – you don’t have to go out of your way to get information.”
For Earth Week, Student Government partnered with local businesses for engagement incentives for students; a large amount of this engagement has been seen online through social media platforms.
“Off-campus organizations such as Village Tavern and F45 have graciously donated gift packs and gift cards to help us engage people by commenting ways to conserve energy or conserve water or other things like that, which has been really great,” Skilton said. “[Our posts have received] dozens of comments every day, so we’re seeing a lot of engagement online too.”
The high student engagement has been recognized by Wake Forest students and other members of Student Government.
“I’m really happy with how things have gone,” Deir said. “I really give Drew and the Physical Planning Committee a lot of credit. I also give credit to the Office of Sustainability for setting us all up. We’re happy, or at least I’ve been happy, with the engagement we’ve been seeing. We’re just glad that other campus organizations have partnered with us, and we can continue to do things like this.”
This week, an increase in student interest in the environment has been seen by Schmidt, which she hopes will continue during the remainder of the semester.
“I feel like it was just nice to see other people who were similarly passionate about environmental awareness,” Schmidt said. “I hope that what people can take away from this, as a community, is to get more involved with sustainability and environmental action not just during Earth Week, [but all year long] whether that be through Campus Garden or the Office of Sustainability or just making donations to local organizations.”
Skilton and other members of Student Government hope the Wake Forest community takes note of different actions they can take to limit their negative impact on the environment and realizes that even small actions make a difference.
“You can make a difference in helping the planet,” Skilton said. “I know there’s a lot of information out there, and there’s a lot of numbers and things like that, but there’s definitely ways each individual student, or each individual person can help. With things like making sure you turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, it adds up. If it’s not just you, and it’s students across [our entire] campus, then we’re conserving a lot of water which is a big help. Even the littlest things really do help.”