March 2, 2020

Sustainability Peer Educators Show How Little Changes Have Big Impacts        

West Chester Gordon Natural AreaWCU senior Samantha LaRocca organized “A Guide to an Eco-Friendly Holiday Season” last semester to bring awareness to fellow students of the high volume of trash heading to landfills during the November-December holidays. For the residents of University Hall, she created a game to encourage brainstorming to find reasonable, alternative ways to wrap gifts and be more environmentally conscious during the holiday season. Her prize? Biodegradable, plant-able gift wrap that sprouts flowers when placed in soil!

A sociology major and environmental health minor, LaRocca is one of WCU’s nine Sustainability Peer Educators (SPEs) charged with bringing an awareness of sustainability plus eco-friendly ideas, activities, and solutions to the University’s student population. This is only the second semester of the pilot program, which focuses its sights on where students live: their residence halls. Each of the SPEs are assigned a residence hall where they host one event each semester for residents to learn how even small changes in daily life can make a tremendous impact.

All of the SPEs make a conscious effort to lead by example for their fellow students to show them how “easy and cool sustainability can be,” says LaRocca.

Third year geoscience major Rachel DiRosato explained how her passion for the environment and her role as an SPE has granted her the opportunity to participate in events such as the Students for Zero Waste Conference in Philadelphia last semester. She incorporated this cause into her event programming last semester: She provided a zero-waste dining kit for students to make with mason jars, twine, and bamboo utensils.

DiRosato is one of the sustainability peer educators speaking at this week’s lunch-time Sustainability Research and Practice Seminar, “Exploring the Impact of Students Teaching Students,” which features fellow SPEs Alyssa Harvey, Jacob Mann, and Erin Mecchi. The free presentation takes place Wednesday, March 4, in Sykes Student Union 255A/B at 12 p.m. and is open to the public. These seminars are also livestreamed and recorded for those who can’t make to campus or want to watch later.

Find more information and the complete schedule of Sustainability Research and Practice Seminars on the Office of Sustainability website.

Other Sustainability Events

Saturday, March 7: Visit the Gordon Natural Area on South Campus and enjoy a tree ID walk with local arborist Brice Dorwart, a class of 2004 WCU alumnus. Meet at the entrance in R lot (below Farrell Stadium) at 10 a.m. to learn about forest succession, tree structure and development, in a two-hour program. Free and open to the public.

Tuesday, March 31: State government, higher education, and sustainability discussion with Pennsylvania state representatives Carolyn Comitta (Chester County) and Leanne Krueger (Delaware County). This free event will explore the role of state government in various aspects of sustainability: higher education affordability and access, concerns related to the climate crisis, and how the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education can become a leader in sustainability initiatives. WCU students, staff, and faculty, as well as community members are welcome to attend. There will be an opportunity to ask questions of the legislators. Refreshments will be provided. 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sykes Ballroom B.


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