Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stay in Touch and Keep Everyone Posted on Your Environmental Projects
Be sure to visit and like our Redesigning the Future Facebook page. You will lots of information about the program and updates for future summits.

This is also a great place to keep new friends posted on your personal environmental work. We know many campers left with great ideas and tons of energy to direct toward projects in their towns and cities. 

Smile. You are on Facebook.
You'll also find loads of great pictures made at the Summit on the Redesign Facebook page. Eli Wittum as well many of the counselors, staff, and campers took lots of wonderful photos. Here is a great place to see and share summit memories. 

Group Shot at Redesigning the Future: Environmental Summit 2014

High School Students, Counselors, Faculty, and Staff at Redesigning the Future

Redesigning the Future: National Environmental Camp 2014 went by really fast. Our days were packed with lots of activities. We learned a lot and played hard too.

Here is a final thought from one of our campers this year:

“At the Summit, I loved being able to see all of the collaborative efforts between the students.  Our ability to find common interests and come together for a special purpose was amazing.  The people that I have met here are inspiring and I will never forget this experience.”  -Savannah Swinea

Visit the Center for the Environment page for information about previous summits and be watching for opportunities for 2015. You'll also find loads of other projects and activities hosted by the Center. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Don't Hate Kudzu (well maybe) - Eating and Drinking Kudzu Does Help Ease the Pain

Students are Eager to Try Kudzu Food and Drink
High school students in Dr. Jay Bolin's group Invasive Alien Plants and Animals: Friend or Foe to the Environment? always enjoy the kudzu class. Why? Well, they get to eat and drink kudzu concoctions. 

Granted kudzu has a bad name, and it has certainly caused a lot of headaches for a lot of people. Brought in to counter soil erosion, this plant quickly became an invasive plant that would crawl over and tangle up plants, trees, and old broken down cars sitting in the field.

Fighting it back has been like trying to stick your elbow in your ear.

Given it's hard to impossible to do much about kudzu, students learn to make the best of a bad situation. The campers go out hiking and pick young kudzu leaves and then get to cooking.

One favorite is fried kudzu leaves. Students make and eat these in their focus group meetings.

The kudzu leaves are battered and deep fried. This is quite a southern tradition. Most anyone from the sunny south can tell you that anything tastes good battered and fried. This holds true for kudzu too.

What Does Fried Kudzu Taste Like?

Hum. That is a good question. When fried, kudzu tastes kind of like chips - but not really. The flavor is good. Just a little different. Not really like anything else.

If blindfolded, you'd likely NEVER guess you were eating kudzu fried. Heck, even without a blindfold, you likely would not know what you were eating. Something green and lightly battered.

Beyond Fried Kudzu

The Invasive Species group goes beyond fried kudzu. It would take forever to fry enough for a whole camp of hungry campers.

Kudzu Quiche - Oh So Yummy
For the final festival, the Bolin group does fry some kudzu, but center stage is kudzu quiche.

Some members of the Green Ink camp blogging group stopped by to see the quiche baking class, and they returned raving about how wonderful the quiche smelled. This had camper's mouths watering and students checking their watches to see when it would be festival time.

Time to See What Kudzu Quiche Tastes Like

It was finally time, and students swarmed the kudzu table to get samples. A few hesitated until they saw how fellow campers responded.

The kudzu quiche was a winner.

Again, it was hard to nail the secret ingredient. A good guess could have been mild spinach. But, no, the green leaves were kudzu. And they were truly delicious.

This year, the group also added a kudzu hot tea. Students were a bit shy on trying it, since it was a new offering. Those who gave it a try said it was interesting but good.

What will Invasive Alien Plants and Animals do with kudzu next year? I'd not wager a guess. I would bet it will be good though.

Communication is Critical, Heather White Tells Summit Campers

Heather White Meets with Redesigning the Future Summit Students

Heather White is the Executive Director of Environmental Working Group (EWG), and she made time to stop by Redesigning the Future to speak with everyone about the importance of communication.

We communicate constantly, but we don't always do it well. White provided ways to think about the world, organize those thoughts, and get powerful messages out.

White Reaches Out to High School Students Who Will be Our Future Leaders

The communication skills program began with a game to get students up and moving and involved in the process of thinking about how we send and receive messages.

Students Quickly Came Up with Ideas and Began to Fill the Walls with Words
Campers wrote down thoughts on sticky notes and put them on the wall boards. Then White had them take the ideas from across the room and begin to organize those words and thoughts so that they had more than just a jumble of random sticky note ideas.

Organizational Work Took More Time and Effort - But Summit Members Collaborated to Complete the Second Task
We don't think about communication a lot. We just do it. But, if we want results, we need to be more focused on what we say and do.

White helped summit members look beyond the obvious and make new connections about their messages and how they impact the world.

Building Our Own Little Sacred Spaces at Environmental Summit 2014

Members of the Sacred Spaces: Global Heritage and Conservation group spent some time in the campus preserve gathering items to create their own mini sacred spaces after learning about special sacred areas across the globe.

Here are their creations. As you can see, each camper had a different vision of tranquility.


Tackling Snapping Turtles at the Summit

By: Cierra Hunter

A Backbone for Conservation led by Dr. Joe Poston, a professor of biology at Catawba College, gave students real hands on experiences in the wild.

Members of the group included:

A snapping turtle is always a cool find. They are important to the ecosystem, but they are endangered in many areas for a variety of reasons.

Here is a great video out of Canada that provides a lot of information about snapping turtles. It includes tips on how to help the snapping turtles too.

Taking Videos in the Preserve - Oh The Things That You Will See

Students in Dr. Joe Poston's group got a very unique view of nature by using an outdoor video camera. You never know what's out there when no one is watching.

Is this thing working? Yes it is, and the group was caught on nature candid camera.

This little deer looks like she may suspect something. Maybe she has that second sense just as people do - "Hum. I have this feeling that I'm being watched."

It's a little harder to make out the night animals, but this is a raccoon. He's enjoying a stroll through the forest and likely thinking about finding something good to eat.

Of course, you always catch some tame critters on camera.

SACRED SPACES: Global Heritage and Conservation

Dr. Charlie McAllister took campers all over the globe in his intriguing section on Sacred Spaces.

Sacred Spaces group gathers for the final camp festival where each group put together a presentation highlighting the week at the summit. 

Students shared some of the sacred places they learned about during the week.

Members of this interesting group included:

Rosalie Alff (Jefferson)
Rebecca Bailey (Burlington)
Eric Datta (Chapel Hill)
Nataliyah Gray (Burlington)
Justice Pennywell (Shelby)
Isabel Pernia (Charlotte)
Andrew Whang (Chapel Hill)

The group was ably assisted by veteran counselor Kerstin Brown.

The seven students began by collectively drawing a world map of sacred spaces, which began our conversation about this term.

Then, in five sessions, they selected and profiled twenty-one case studies in three global regions from Beyond Belief: Linking Faiths and Protected Areas to Support Biodiversity Conservation (2005).

Some of the countries: Columbia, Finland, New Zealand, Mali, Peru, Japan, and South America.

One especially interesting area explored by the group was an area of Africa that is a sanctuary for monkeys. The monkeys are considered sacred. As you can see, the area is, indeed, beautiful, and the antics of the monkeys make you smile. This would be a wonderful sacred spot to visit. 

This leads to the question: Where is your sacred spot? Be sure to leave a comment and tell us about a place that brings you peace.

Acting for the Environment

By: Payton Coleman

As actors in the "Stories in Support of  Your Cause" campers have been allowing their creative juices to flow as they use their artistic talents to share their concerns for the environment. The main focus for the group has been to show how their passion for the environment can affect the world.

One of the students shared her thoughts about the groups progress.

What have you enjoyed about your group?

"I enjoyed how we can tell stories with each other, be respected and act out the stories as well." 
                                                       -Lexie Burns

Skit highlights the shortcomings of the other five camp groups but ends with a counselor mentioning the value of each group and how working together makes everyone stronger at an event like (PAUSE) . . . Redesigning the Future.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Power Blogging - High School Students Rocked a Blog in Three Days

Green Ink : Blogging for a Better Tomorrow

You would not think six high school students (along with a mentor and three college counselors - one just graduated in May) could rock a blog and get over 400 visits in three days.

Well, these guys and girls did.

You may be wondering how they did that, because those numbers are amazing in the blogashpere.

As the Green Ink group mentor at the Redesigning the Future summer camp for high school students, I can tell you that we're not talking black hat SEO, buying links, or any other tricks.

These high school students simply put up great information and shared their work. As a power blogger, I can tell you that is the key. Put up information people want to read and get the word out. That's what the group did, and it paid off.

Bloggers Working Hard at the Environmental Summit

I am a Communication lecturer at the college, so I can tell you this was not easy. Good online blog traffic does not just happen. If the students were just tossing up data and not putting heart and thought in, then they would be getting very little traffic. That's just the bottom line.

The students had to look at all the camp activities and decide where to invest time and energy. They all brought different skills. Some were strong writers (which is great when blogging), but others had other skills that made the short summer blog class solid. Ayden Smith liked to do design work and made the new header and some photo collages.

Counselor Morgan King Works with Camper Alia Dahlian

No one is born knowing how to blog, although some people do seem "born to blog." They just "get it." That is a skill that can't really be taught, but it can be nurtured.

I was blessed to have three terrific counselors with my group. I'd taught and worked with all three.

Katie Barbee is a local girl, so we have a lot in common. She was a real stand in the college blogging class. She still blogs, and is quite popular. Her blog is really a fun read, and I still follow it.

Morgan King is a business major, but she was in my first year seminar class and was my Green Ink counselor last year, so I knew she was rock solid.

William Spencer is a new college student, and he is on the college newspaper (The Pioneer) staff. I knew he had experience with blogging but in WordPress. That's a harder platform, so I knew he'd pick up Blogger quick. Of course, he did.

My camp group blogs, so they are busy covering camp and what we are all learning. They use "down" or "rest" time to gather information, so they can hit it hard when we get together. They also go visit the other groups at camp. This is not a camp class for the faint of heart, but it does provide opportunities to get the bigger picture as media folks. As I tell them, "You have to think like a blogger every second."

Bloggers showcase what is going on and who it shining, but they seldom get much credit.

As the leader of Green Ink: Blogging for a Better Tomorrow at the Redesigning the Future: National Environmental Summer Summit 2014, I would like to say that Payton, Alia, Cierra, Jumana, Boothe, and Ayden really shook up our blog and got loads of traffic.  You can read about these great high school students at the top of the blog under Staff 2014.

In the background, my counselors Katie, Morgan, and William were fabulous. They helped new bloggers learn how to get messages out and get great traffic. They spent loads of time hanging out and going to various groups with the high school students, so the new bloggers could get great data. They also took a bunch of photos. They were the backbone that helped the high students shine as they should.

What Does It Take to Have a Successful Blog

It takes cooperation, passion, and hard work. That's what I got with my student bloggers and my college counselors. I want to thank them all. Blogging is hard work (to be successful). Our blog did really well, and I give credit where it is due.