Seven years ago, Austin College hosted our first GreenServe; an event created and proposed by a student in ENVS 135 (Introduction to Environmental Studies). This campus-wide opportunity attracts nearly 200 volunteers to community service projects focused on environmental responsibility, sustainability, and raising awareness for Thinking Green.
The event is co-sponsored, organized and implemented by two student led groups: Austin College Thinking Green (or Think) and the Service Station. By tradition, service projects last for three hours on a Saturday morning that falls on or near to Earth Day. In contrast to the three hours spent at each site, there are several weeks and countless hours that go into the planning of GreenServe in hopes that students will be provided with a wide range of opportunities from organizations that will inspire or establish a greater connection and meaning to long term environmental responsibility.
During the two weeks before GreenServe students, faculty, and staff, sign up for a project to which they would like to contribute. Some examples include:
- Site maintenance and restoration work at Sneed Prairie
- Promoting environmental awareness at Texoma Earth Day Festival
- Native plantings on campus
- Maintaining the Sherman Community Garden
- Environmental Education to students in the RooBound program
- Habitat clean up at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge
This year, our 7th annual GreenServe, there was a special focus given to a site on our own Austin College campus. Over 80 GreenServe volunteers planted hundreds of native Texas flowering plants and grasses around the IDEA Center to support pollinators and encourage the adoption of native habitat restoration and education.
The plants were purchased with the Student Sustainability Fund. As a result of a student referendum, five dollars of each student’s activities goes to the Student Sustainability Fund, whose expenditures are chosen by a student committee.
Next year’s GreenServe will be on Earth Day – April 22, 2017.