Throughout the month of April, Fairmont State University students, faculty and staff celebrated Earth Day through various programming that was focused on creating environmental awareness and promoting sustainability. Many of those efforts are also present on the University’s campus year-round, but Professor of Chemistry Dr. Erica Harvey says April 22 often serves as a reminder of our shared commitment and obligation to our planet.
“Earth Day is a great day to get outside, pick up some litter, commit to a reusable water bottle, walk a little more and drive a little less or try a mindfulness exercise,” said Harvey, who was awarded the Abelina Suarez professorship in 2018 to support the work of the University’s Creative Sustainability Council.
And with the creation of the University’s new Falcon Park & Trail, members of the campus community have had increased opportunities to practice environmental stewardship and utilize outdoor spaces for both educational and social purposes.
“The Falcon Park & Trail is and will continue to be an integral part of the Fairmont State campus,” said Chair of the Health & Human Performance Department, Jan Kiger, who is also an Assistant Professor in the Outdoor Recreation Leadership program and the advisor of the University’s Outdoor Adventure Club. “The park will be a centerpiece to a collaborative outdoor learning space that will foster student-centered learning, providing an opportunity to take the classroom outside and the outside environment into the classroom.”
The Falcon Park & Trail is part of the Class of 2021’s Walk with a Falcon senior campaign. It is a joint effort between the Student Government Association, the Fairmont State Foundation, the Outdoor Recreation Program and the Community Design Assistance Center Architecture Program. Throughout the last two weeks, the park served as a venue for the campus community to participate in a variety of Earth Day events such as Monday Music in the Woods, Tuesday Trail Trash Pick-up and Wednesday Walk in the Woods.
In addition, sustainability initiatives on campus in celebration of Earth Day were numerous, including glass crushing, composting, the utilization of solar panels and electric vehicle chargers, the repurposing of plastic bags into sleeping mats, litter pickups and trail construction, many of which are constants throughout the year.
“Everyone admires our charming, beautiful hilltop campus,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “It’s part of the reason Fairmont State feels like ‘home’ to so many Falcons. Its beauty sustains us and has a significant impact on our mental health. However, it will only stay that way if we all work together. I applaud our Creative Sustainability Council for their efforts to lead change not only on our campus, but throughout our state and beyond.”
The University also offers a course on the environmental impacts of consumerism and a weekly moment of mindfulness as a component of sustainability, and Harvey said the Council is always accepting proposals for future initiatives.
“The Creative Sustainability Council provides an outlet for students, faculty, staff and local community members who want to focus on practical, fun ways to engage with others in environmental stewardship,” said Harvey. “It’s great to see the number and variety of sustainability efforts instigated by our members, and we encourage anyone who is interested in helping or learning more to join us.”