Friday, July 10, 2015

Dialogue Skills with Rocky Mountain Institute

Campers Learned Many New Skills at RMI Programs at Environmental Camp

Today, with the Rocky Mountain Institute, students learned how to have nice dialogue skills with others when having a disagreement. They were told not to just talk; listen to others. Give reasons why you think your idea is better, and then hear the other person out. These were just a few tips the Rocky Mountain Institute gave to the campers.

The students were then thrown into to simulations of a disagreement and were told to use the skills they had just learned about.

The first simulation was that two people were members of a council and they had to decide where to spend their  pretend one-hundred thousand dollar grant. Different groups decided on different ways to spend the money.

The second simulation was that two people were stakeholders around a lake. Different stakeholders wanted different things from the lake, and the six different stakeholders had to compromise on what to do with the lake and how to protect it but get the most out of it.

Students learned how hard it is to compromise when you know you want something specific. But they learned how to do it nicely and avoid arguments, an important skill when redesigning our future.

Redesigning Our Future - Eco-Olympics

Ready, Set . . . Go

By Kayla Blackburn

On Thursday night, a series of Eco-Olympics events were held between randomly divided teams, allowing a respite from focus groups to create new friendships. Each self-named team had to compete in assorted events in both physical and mental fields, led by their skilled counselors.

The games began with a competition that involved each team choosing a popular song and rewriting the lyrics (while also choreographing some awesome dance moves) in a way that dealt with the environment . . . with only 10 minutes to use! The teams then had to perform their songs in front of all the campers at the Summit.

Some song examples were parodies of "Shake It Off" renamed "Save the Earth" and "Let It Go" as "Let It Grow." Not only did these presentations provide a great laugh, but they also ignited many ideas about conservation and recycling.

The next events were the Sack Race, the Three-Legged Race, and the Wheelbarrow Race. Teams demonstrated extreme physical power throughout these races, persevering through warm Carolina temperatures.

The final event was a battle of the mind. Five trivia questions were asked, and each team collaborated in answering them to the best of their ability, testing their environmental knowledge as potential environmentalists.

The Forest Fires, led by counselor Forest Fulgate, won first place. Counselor Ashley Everidge's Ferocious Ferrets came in second place, and counselor Seth Stephens' Vicious Vipers placed third.

The Eco-Olympics was a fun event for all, from professors to counselors to campers, promoting both bonding and environmental stewardship at our 2015 National Environmental Summit.

Jupiter, Saturn, and S'mores

By Annabelle Nagy

On Thursday night, after a long day of speakers and focus groups, the campers got to go to Catawba's observatory. And have s'mores.
Photos By Cathy Green

To wrap the night up the counselors set up a fun night of relaxing and having fun. Groups of people went up to the observatory to look for planets in the major microscopes at the college. Saturn and Jupiter made their appearances last night. The microscopes were so magnified that you could see the stripes of Jupiter and rings of Saturn. Many students stood looking in the microscopes with their mouths wide open, amazed at what they saw in the sky. The planets moved surprisingly quickly and the microscope would have to be readjusted every couple of minutes or so.

While certain groups were in the observatory others stayed below making s'mores and eating pizza. Off to the side there were students playing cards, goofing off, and having a good laugh. Students of all different backgrounds bonded while roasting marshmallows to perfection (or what the student called perfection).

The night was fun and memorable, something the campers enjoyed thoroughly after a long day of work.

Redesigning Our Future- Why Bees Are Important

Today there are approximately 7.125 billion people living on Earth, and the population is only growing. It is common sense that the more people there are the more food that needs to be produced. Crops today are becoming scarce and Genetically Modified Organisms are rapidly replacing naturally grown foods. As more and more farmers start to lose their once pure and uncontaminated farms, the world starves.

It is essential to have these miraculous Hymenoptera on this Earth because of overpopulation. These creatures are killed simply because they are thought to be a 'menace' to the world. We do not give pollinators as much credit as they should get. I am not saying that you should treat bees and other insects with as much respect as the President or anything, but you should know their purpose for this world.

Let's talk honey. Honey can cure your sore throats and heal any cuts. You can put it in tea, or just eat it raw. But if you buy brand name honey it may not be as good. Brand name honey usually takes 70-100 percent of the pollen in the honey out, and abuse the bees by spraying this calming fume at them to harvest the honey. Instead buy local, raw honey, it supports small stores.

It is the bee's duty to serve her queen, but it can be so tiresome. When and if you see a tired bee trying to fly or just waddle do not touch them. Grab some sugar and some water and mix them together to make a solution. Give the bee a little bit of the refreshment so they can get back their energy and get back to work.

To the right is a video of a new invention that does not harm bees and is a better alternative of not having to put a suit on.

Redesigning Our Own Personal Futures By Chloe Fedor

Everyone holds their own hopes and dreams: their dream college, dream career and dream life. But,  everyone holds different hopes and dreams; usually these aspects in our life are impacted by everything we experience in life. Each and every one of us have been impacted by the Redesigning the Future Environmental Summit this week. 

Some campers have even envisioned and revised their life goals and dreams while listening and observing the keynote speaker and other speakers from this particular summit. 

Examples of campers who have revised and envisioned their particular futures this week are:

Macayla Upright Enjoyed Exploring Her Passion at Camp

Macayla Upright, a 17 year old Senior from Salisbury, NC:
"This week has helped me explore my passion for the outdoors and the animals in the outdoors. It has made me consider conservation biology as an option and the activities my group " Backbone For Conservation" have done like turtle trapping. The turtle activity gave me insight on what it is like to be a field scientist."

Dylan Willard and Misa Harashima. Dylan enjoyed doing science field work at camp.

Dylan Willard, a 17 year old Senior from Lexington, NC:
"My future goals are to go to NCSU and major in civil engineering or architecture and at the same time become more environmentally conscious. The National Environmental Summit has not necessarily made me want to change my goals, but only to pursue them even more. And hopefully one day I will be designing green, sustainable buildings and structures that will last for years to come."
Sarah says she hasn't made firm plans yet but loves science.

Sarah, a 16 year old Junior from Sanford, NC:
"This week I learned a lot more about environmental science that I will definitely use in the future. I'm not sure that I would want to major in it, but I'm very interested in science and might minor in environmental science."  

Gisselle Anaya Learns All About Mosquitoes at Camp

                                                                               Photo by Brinsley Stewart
Summer Campers Get a Closer Look at Mosquitoes and How They Are a Part of Our Environment

"What's Bugging You?" This is a question Redesigning the Future high school campers considered in a summer Focus Group led by Dr. Carmony Hartwig.

Giselle Anaya
Giselle Anaya , one of the campers in the group, said that she first learned about the various types of mosquitoes. While most people may think that a mosquito is just a mosquito, there are a number of different types - around sixty-five with about thirty having been identified at the preserve behind the Center for the Environment at Catawba College.

Using microscopes, the summer campers got a closer look at some of the various types of mosquitoes. Giselle said that there were mosquitoes in colors like purple, gold and yellow. She especially like a gold one with blue highlights.

To check out the mosquitoes, the group put out jars with dry ice behind the campus library and a theatre building which are damp areas. The jars were filled with dry ice which creates carbon dioxide which is attractive to mosquitoes. One jar netted a good catch of mosquitoes; the other one "not so much."

Dr. Hartwig froze the samples overnight, so that Giselle and her fellow campers Sidnee, Brenna, and Paola could study the mosquito specimens in closer detail.

Giselle said that she learned a lot about mosquitoes and had a fun time during her week at camp.

She and her Focus Group Members shared what they'd learned later in the week at the "What We Learned" session.

You'd Be Surprised At What You DON'T Know About Mosquitoes as the "What's Bugging You?" Group Highlighted at the Environmental Summit Final Night Showcase

Environmental Conciousness in Urban Areas

Walking down a street in almost any city in America, you see trash littering the ground. Trees are stunted and surrounded by seas of concrete. Cars are jammed in traffic miles long, emitting toxic pollution into the air. Everywhere around you an urban wilderness extends as far as the eye can see. So the question is raised: How do you reach people in these incredibly urbanized areas and educate them about what they can do to help the environment?

Education can begin with simply alerting the public to what is happening all around. Simply by being on this blog and absorbing the content is educating yourself. The next thing to do is make a lifestyle change. Something as simple as walking to your friends house instead of driving or walking those two extra feet to recycle instead of puttting it in the waste bin.

When the Rocky Mountain Institute came and spoke to the camp at the Center for the Environment (see article), they expressed the importance of connecting different types of activism. 

In an urban or suburban environment it can be very difficult to make big changes to "save the environment" but sometimes the small changes are the ones that make the biggest difference.

Redesigning Our Future - Kudzu In the Kitchen

By Kayla Blackburn

Gavin McQueen from Asheboro, NC wears a vine of kudzu as he researches about invasive species.

Here at the 2015 Redesigning Our Future: National Environmental Summit for High School Students, the Invasive Aliens Plants and Animals: Friend or Foe to the Environment? focus group collected and then cooked the well-known invasive plant called kudzu.

After prepping the kudzu in a batter, students deep-fried the plant to create an interesting treat, called a "kudzu funnel cake" by Grace Vaughan from Fries, Virginia. They also made tea and a kudzu quiche!

Samantha Long from Rocky Point, NC dips kudzu leaves in a mixture of flower and water to prepare the plant for deep-frying.

The finished product, deep-fried kudzu!
So how else is this Asian-native plant used around the world?

Kudzu roots contain starch, which are traditionally treated with pomelo oil and used in beverages in Vietnam. In Japan, the starch is used as a thickener and can also be a substitute for the common kitchen ingredient, cornstarch.

Kudzu powder is used all around eastern Asia to make teas, and flowers that appear on certain strands of kudzu are used to make a sweet jelly that has a flavoring very similar to grape.

Kudzu hay is used worldwide as forage for grazing animals. It can also be used to make clothing and paper in the form of a fiber known as ko-hemp.

In the southern United States, this abundant plant is harvested and made into soaps and lotions too. Basketry and medicine are two other fields where the use of kudzu is common.

Of course the invasive kudzu plant can become ecologically damaging due to its quick, overtaking and thus competitive growth, but it is also a truly valuable resource internationally, even for food consumption!

"Go Ahead: Change Your Mind" Focus Group - What We've Learned

Professor: Dr. Seth Holtzman

Counselor Deep Dave talking about the focus group said "It takes a lot to change your mind, but when you learn other people's perspective, it becomes a lot easier."

Emilee Batten: "I love that when we read the poem "Snake" by D. H. Lawrence that everyone interpreted one thing so many different ways. It's so interesting that people have different ideas."

Abbey: "I've enjoyed learning about how the human mind makes decisions and is influenced. I can apply what I learned in this class when trying to convince others about why the environment matters."

Makayla Utt: "My favorite thing about the focus group is learning about everyone's point of views."

Carolina Altunyay: " I love psychology, and the psychology of change is a fascinating and relevant topic. I enjoy hearing the knowledge Dr. Holtzman brings to the table."

Ciena Fedor: "I really enjoyed this focus group because I got to obtain more knowledge by listening to my groups perspectives."

Jaela Norman: "I enjoyed the topic of this focus group about changing peoples minds. I liked learning about how to prepare people to change their minds. I also enjoyed some of the readings we read such as "Snake" by D. H. Lawrence. This class really makes you think, and I like that. Discussing opinions was really cool as well.

Emilee Rae Hibshman: "I have really enjoyed the topics we've discussed so far. We've talked about why people embrace or don't embrace change. This class was great because it really made us think and reflect on ourselves and our thought processes."

Abigail Lund: "My focus group was really open to everybody's views, and we had very great discussions on the mind. :)"

Felix Thibodeau: "My focus group had incredibly thoughtful discussions on the very widest of topics, and despite differing ideals, respected each other to great extents."

Danielle Middleton: "My focus group was a very interesting experience for me we all had very differing opinions and yet we all had intelligent and respectful conversations. 10/10, would do again."