What is Earth Day?Grantham University students live all over the United States and the world. But, Earth is the one address we all have in common. As citizens of this unique and precious planet, we should take actions to protect it – especially on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22. So, what is Earth Day?

In 1970, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson launched Earth Day with the intent of focusing on the environment at least one day each year. The initiative brought together a variety of groups interested in spreading national awareness of important environmental concerns, such as pollution, pesticides, oil spills and loss of wildlife.

Thanks to the first Earth Day, the Clean Water, Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts were passed. While we have made great strides in helping the planet these past 47 years, there is still much more to be accomplished.

Rooted in Education

Earth Day’s 2017 campaign is Environmental and Climate Literacy. The campaign, driven by Earth Day Network, which describes itself as “the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement,” is, as the title suggests, rooted in education. Specifically, the group stresses the importance of teaching environmental and climate literacy early and often in grades K-12. Ideally, the network’s ultimate goal is a world where every high school student graduates “as an environmental and climate literate citizen.”

As a University, Grantham can really get behind a message promoting education, especially when it aligns with one of our key objectives – educating our students about the world around them. In fact, we even offer a course that fits quite well with Earth Day: GS104 Introduction to Environmental Science. The class introduces students to the essential themes of environmental science and provides opportunities to practice scientific thinking.

Grantham Goes Green

Outside the classroom, in an attempt to make “Earth Day, Every Day,” Grantham employees — who we call Life Changers — started a program aimed at reducing our carbon footprint, building community partnerships and saving costs along the way.

Under this new “Green Initiative,” our University will work to reduce waste, recycle more and responsibly manage resources. We kicked things off with recycling bins for paper, plastic containers and metal cans; and dual-sided printing. It’s a simple step in the right direction, but it really adds up.

When we think about it, Grantham officially going green was a natural transition. We moved into our LEED certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) campus headquarters in 2014 and eventually cut out paper coffee cups in favor of reusable mugs. That latter move not only saved the University money, it kept thousands of cups out of the landfill each month!

What is Earth Day to You?

You can expect to hear more about Grantham’s Green Initiative as we expand the program and look for new ways to eliminate wasteful business practices and help the environment. In the meantime, we urge you to seek out your own methods of spreading the word on environmental issues and making a difference to protect our Earth. What is Earth Day all about for you?

Grantham students are resilient, often overcoming obstacles in life to follow their dreams of earning a college degree. Similarly, our planet is also pretty resilient … but it needs help if we want to ensure sustainable living for future generations. So, this Earth Day, consider being part of the solution. Pledge to start recycling, educate yourself on environmental concerns or take on an “Act of Green” in your community.

It takes more than one person, or even one University, to change the world … but it only takes a single voice to spark the inspiration for such global change. Does that voice belong to you?

For more information on the kinds of courses that can make a difference in your work environment - especially Grantham's career-relevant degree and certificate programs – click the blue bar below!

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Sarah PowellAbout Sarah Powell

Sarah Powell serves a Senior Foundations Faculty at Grantham University where she teaches Introduction to Life Science, Physical Science and Environmental Science as well as the General Education Capstone. Powell received her Bachelor's Degree in Biology and Masters of Natural in Science Education from Southeast Missouri State University. She is a member of the National Audubon Society, Association of College and University Biology Educators, Green Business Network and the Kansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Educators. She also serves as a Population Education curriculum facilitator helping teachers include human impacts on the environment concepts in their classrooms. She will be spending Earth Day planting native plants to provide food for vulnerable butterflies and bees.