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Lehigh community celebrates Earth Day

This photo was one of over 300 submissions in Lehigh's environmental photography contest.

Pennsylvania may have turned its attention this past Tuesday to the Democratic Presidential Primary, but a group of Lehigh faculty, staff and students didn’t let another important observance that day go unnoticed: Earth Day.

As students headed to class down Memorial Walkway, tossed Frisbees on the University Center lawn, and tour groups strolled through Lehigh’s campus, they were greeted by students armed with information on how to “Make Lehigh Green.”

“With environmental awareness enhanced by Earth Day and many educational programs at Lehigh and worldwide, we can begin to find a way to sustain indefinitely the services provided by our environment locally, nationally, and globally,” said Dork Sahagian, director of the Environmental Initiative and professor of earth and environmental sciences.

The Earth Day celebration brought the Lehigh community together to learn about recycling, wind power, sustainable internship opportunities, eco-friendly school supplies, vegetarianism, green buildings, and environmental jobs from over 20 local and on-campus groups. Visitors could sample free trade and organic foods, sign their name in chalk in support of the environment, and even leave with free t-shirts.

“We wanted to have a fun approach to this,” said Jessica Mauro, coordinator of the Environmental Initiative who organized the event along with the student-run Environmental Coalition. “We wanted to have people come for a fun day, but leave with an education.”

"Earth Day is a bit like Mother's Day"

Another highlight of the Earth Day event was an environmental photography contest which drew over 300 submissions. Students cast their vote for photos in six categories, with the overall winner receiving an Olympus camera. Later in the afternoon, a tree was planted in front of Packard Hall and a local band closed out the day.

“I grew up with the idea of sustainability, but that might not be as normal as I once thought,” said Meg Busch, a civil engineering student who represented Green Action at the event. “Maybe the changes we make on campus will make people think about how we can change things on a bigger scale.”

Other events were scheduled for the remainder of the week. On Tuesday evening, Sahagian joined scientists, engineers and architects at the DaVinci Science Center for a discussion “Everybody’s Talking about the Environment.” The Environmental Initiative also conducted outreach at Illick’s Mill in Bethlehem in conjunction with the Bethlehem Area School District.

“Earth Day is a bit like Mother’s Day—we do not love our mothers only one day each year,” said Sahagian. “In the same way, we need to ensure that we preserve the natural environment every day, not just on Earth Day … It’s not as if we live somewhere else the rest of the year.”

The week’s worth of events wrapped up April 24 at 4 p.m. when representatives from the Lehigh Environmental Advisory Group (LEAG) and the city of Bethlehem joined faculty and environmental experts for a panel discussion entitled “Earth, Wind, Fire, Water.” The discussion took place in Lewis Lab 270.

--Tricia Long

Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2008

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