Thursday, July 9, 2015

Center for the Environment at Catawba College

Waterfall at the Entrance for the Center for the Environment

The Center for the Environment at Catawba College is a beautiful and restful place to learn about environmental issues.

It is also a green-friendly structure that was designed to leave a small footprint on campus and has worn awards for being an excellent example of environmentally-conscious construction.

The Center for the Environment at Catawba College is Tucked Into the Woods on Campus
The Center was built into the woods on the edge of the wildlife preserve with green products like bamboo (which is quickly renewable). The structure features many earth friendly features like movement activated lights that turn on and off automatically.

The Center for the Environment which is coordinated by Dr. John Wear often bustles with activity with a variety of classrooms, meeting rooms, a conference room, and a beautiful room for contemplation with a stone fireplace, but it is always an oasis where students, summer campers, and visitors can study, learn, grow, and get in touch with nature.

The National Environmental Summit for high school students is a wide open and fun week at the Center, but there is still a serene calm about being in a building that was designed to honor the natural world and provide space for future generations to learn and continue to make this world a better place.

Pine Tree on The Edge of the Environmental Center

Rocky Mountain Institute Comes to the Summit

National Environmental Campers Learn from RMI ENV Leaders
 By Annabelle Nagy

One of the featured speakers at the Summit happened to be a large company that deals with saving energy for the environment. They are the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), located in Colorado.

Recently RMI has been working with China to help them reduce the energy they use. The job with China started after the book Reinventing Fire came out.

When they came to the National Environment Summit for high school students, they spoke about how they want to reduce energy in the future.  They wish to help create and see more walking and public transportation and also more community efforts to help reduce the amount of energy used (and wasted).

RMI introduced to us the ways to help "saving energy" can be introduced. The ways are: lifestyle (how you live your life), education (educating the people on how to save energy), grassroots (local movements to conserve energy), political (getting politicians involved and the politicians promoting saving energy), and economic (big businesses promoting energy conservation).

RMI Covers Various Ways To Make a Difference

While discussing these ways to make a difference, we split into small groups and talked about how each can make a difference in the community and then in the world.

The talk was interactive and fun to listen to and participate in.

RMI has proven to be a good business with well thought out plans.

Bats in the Dorms

Bats are an important part of our ecosystem but not so great as dorm roommates.

By Annabelle Nagy

While playing Uno in one of the dorms in Purcell, one camper noticed a bat flying around. The girls in the room scrambled out of the door, shutting the door to stay away from all bats. Camp counselors came up to check on the screaming girls. Payden Mitchell, a student at Catawba College, ironically caught the bat in his Batman beanie while wearing Batman pajamas.

Payden Mitchell was dressed the part to be a real life Batman and set the lost bat free.

The next night the same girls heard chirping again. Again they ran out of the room while screaming and getting counselors to remove the bats. The camp counselors, Catawba public safety, and animal control were all called to get the bats out of the dorms. The girls ended up sleeping in the dorm across the hall.

The bats had to be carefully removed, because the bats are an endangered species. Bats eat mosquitoes, which is important because mosquitoes are very popular in Salisbury, North Carolina. Keeping the bats alive and healthy is vital to the systems in the natural environment. 

But don't worry! The rest of the dorms are perfectly safe!!

Redesigning Our Future - Geocaching in the Preserve 2015

By Kayla Blackburn

Campers prepare to exit kayaks after geocaching on the pond in the preserve.

During the 5th annual National Environmental Summit for High School Students at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina, student campers began their Wednesday morning with an exploration of the college's 189-acre ecological preserve.

Armed with GPS navigation systems and several bottles of bug spray, the 46 campers went geocaching to learn about biomimicry, or the innovation used by humans when they model nature's behavior.

For example, students learned that phytochemicals found in the inner bark of black willow trees can often be used in medical advances. Salicyclic acid is involved in both aspirin and acne medications, with its use beginning among Native Americans hundreds of years ago.

Some types of salamanders excrete a fluid that provides defense against leeches, and they also have the ability to regenerate lost limbs. Scientists could eventually use these mechanisms found in nature to create similar systems in humans, providing assistance to amputees.

Bonus geocaching stations were placed at various points around a lake which campers had the opportunity to kayak around, involving bivalves and katniss plants and engaging campers in a highlight of camp.

This activity enlightened campers not only on the various, interesting systems found in the natural environment around them, but also on how they can apply it to their lives and those around them for design and engineering solutions.

Redesigning Our Future - How Do You Show Your Love for Nature?

Heather White - Keynote Speaker - Environmental Summit 2015
 By Kayla Blackburn

As the 2015 Redesigning Our Future: National Environmental Summit commenced on July 7th, campers had the opportunity to listen to this year's phenomenal keynote speaker, Heather White. Heather is a nationally recognized expert on environmental law, and she currently holds a position as the Executive Director of the EWG (Environmental Working Group). She has been involved with Congress, as well as in many magazines like The New York Times.

"I 'Heart' Nature"


During her speech on how she reached her level of success and achievement, Heather reasoned her interest in the environmental field with her love of science, and, namely, nature. Having spent her whole life admiring magnificent landscapes in the many places she has called home, Heather White showed her love for nature in many excursions, including the climbing of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Heather went on to refer to the campers as "America's greatest natural resource." So, following in Heather's footsteps, how do we environmentally-interested teenagers show our love for nature?

Danny Coburn from the "Freedom, Fear, and Fouled Resources Camp Group" is Focused on the Messages Shared by Heather White. 

Makayla Utt, a member of the Go Ahead: Change your Mind focus group and the President of the North Stokes High School's FFA Chapter in Danbury, NC, is active in a monthly day of beautification and planting around her school's campus. The FFA also grows plants, which then get placed in contests at the State Fair. Efforts have been made to assist janitors in picking up trash, as well.

When asked if there was one tip Makayla could share with her fellow campers, she said that in order to run a successful organization, "You have to have good communication and teamwork."

Emma Vtipil is in the Invasive Alien Plants and Animals: Friend or Foe to the Environment? focus group. She is the co-president of the Environmental Club at Athens Drive High School in Cary, NC. Each week, the group recycles around their campus. This club also encourages healthy eating with educational segments at meetings, as well as with a notoriously known "Veggie Week," where students compete to see who can eat primarily vegetables for the longest time for the week.

Campus clean-ups and days of beautification are also common for this organization to host. Funding via a grant has also allowed the Environmental Club and classes to begin building an area for an outdoor classroom to increase environmental involvement.

Anya Quenon is in the Freedom, Fear, and Fouled Resources focus group, and she is from Cary, NC. She is involved in both recycling and compost efforts at her school, the North Carolina School of Math and Science. She is also a member of the Envirothon Club, where she and a team of 4 other students learn about all aspects of the environment and compete with their knowledge.

Anya's school encourages eating locally grown produce, as well as numerous environmental science-based classes, too.

Macayla Upright goes to Greystone High School in Salisbury, NC and is a member of the focus group A Backbone for Conservation. She has been focused on helping the environment for many years. As a girl scout, she was able to set up a recycling center a local church that lasted for over two years.

Her school was recently built, and many enrolled students have united in efforts to give back to the area around their school. They are pushing to start an Environmental Club in the upcoming school year.

Environmental Excellence

All of the students mentioned above are role models in environmental conservation, and their outstanding efforts undoubtedly show love towards nature and our environment.

In her opening speech, keynote speaker Heather White emphasized that a major component of building oneself is to learn from everyone that person has the opportunity to meet, while making the most of every moment. All of us could learn this lesson from these exceptional environmentalists.