Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dan Couchenour Tells Campers How Young People CAN Make a Difference

Dan Couchenour Returns to Catawba to Inspire Environmental Campers
Dan Couchenour graduated from Catawba College last year (2014) and was invited to the National Summit for the Environment to tell high school students that they really can impact on the world even at a young age.

As a student at Catawba College, Couchenour was a West Scholar, a member of the lacrosse team, and an Environmental Steward. Clearly he was a very busy college student.

Environmental Stewards were challenged to come up with projects to benefit the environment. That can be a big task at any age. What can you do? How can you make it happen?

Couchenour's idea was to reduce campus water usage and use the money saved to set up a Bike Share program. Yes. This does sound like a real challenge. Can you really get fellow college students to voluntarily cut back on water waste? Yes you can. Couchenour proved it.

The first step to pulling off a big project is to enlist the help of everyone involved said Couchenour. He spoke with his lacrosse team and friends on the football team and explained what he was trying to accomplish.

Some people will help out just because you ask, but most need guidance, incentives and encouragement.

Couchenour provided ideas his peers could use to cut back on water. One really great suggestion he made was for students to create a short playlist. When the music stopped (yes - college students do listen to music in the showers), the shower is over. One guy told Couchenour that he went from twenty-five minute showers to seven minute showers.

To provide encouragement, Couchenour put up flyers showing the impact of taking minor water saving ideas and implementing them. Students in one dorm were able to cut back $150 in one month on the cost of water. That's group progress that feels good.

Couchenour also said that he went around and thanked fellow students. It's surprising how much a "thank you" can mean. People often forget this follow up, but it is important. It really does matter to others that their efforts are noticed.

Having network support is another part of being successful. The college agreed to direct the money saved on water toward buying bicycles for a Ride Share on campus. An anonymous donor said he/she would match all dollars saved.

The goal was to buy five bikes that students could check out to ride around campus or to town. That's a pretty big expense, but the project was so successful that eight bikes were purchased as well as a tandem bicycle. It's really great when a project goes beyond projections. The goal might have seemed like a stretch, but with a strong effort, Couchenour went way beyond what he had even dreamed.

Campers Get Pumped Up - Success Encourages Success

Couchenour's leadership abilities were not lost on the campers. They were excited by his ideas and his motivational session. He had everyone out of their seats and thinking, dreaming, and having fun. He helped high school students see that it is possible to do great things even when young. Students could relate to the bike project and understand how it would be possible to do such a project.

Campers were also impressed that Couchenour is now a teacher and assistant lacrosse coach at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, NC. That's quite impressive for a recent graduate, but he did not stop there. He also sponsors Icing Smiles at the high school. This is a student group that bakes customized birthday cakes for children with terminally ill diseases.

Couchenour Finally Gets to See the Results of His Hard Work

At the end of Couchenour's program, Dr. Jay Bolin rode one of the Ride Share bikes into the classroom. Ironically Couchenour had never seen the bikes he earned the money to purchase. The money was earned while he was a college student, but the purchases were made the following year. Dr. John Wear congratulated Couchenour and invited him to take a bike cruise around campus.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go Daniel. Great job with a positive attitude.

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