Celebrating Earth at UT
By Maggy Wolanske
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas Campus Environmental Center (CEC) is working on multiple events to get students excited for Earth Month.
Activities include a seed swap, campfire chats, UT Farm Stand, microfarm workshops, and an art contest.
“The Office of Sustainability, in general, celebrates Earth Month, so that’s why we have so much programming for this month of April. Our various product teams are doing various initiatives to do that,” said Siddha Sannigrahi, the co-director of the Campus Environmental Center.
Supported by the Office of Sustainability, the Campus Environmental Center promotes student-led environmental action on campus.
“Our general mission of the CEC is that we’re students who empower other students to promote sustainability or to pursue sustainability for whatever way that means for them,” Sannigrahi said.
There are six product teams which focus on different projects: Green Events, Green Greeks, Half-Pint Prairie, Environmental Justice Collective, Microfarm, and Trash to Treasure.
One of the events held to promote sustainability was Seed Swap. Nicole Hammond, co-leader of the Microfarm project, handed out free basil seeds and soil at the UT Farm Stand on April 14.
“The goal is that people are able to understand how food grows and how things that they eat grow. Also how to kind of take charge of that for yourself and be connected with nature,” Hammond said.
The Half-Pint Prairie group started Seed Swap last summer. It has grown immensely. During the pandemic, the group offered to mail seeds to individuals stuck inside. With students now back on campus, members of the organization are distributing seeds at events like UT Farm Stand.
In the fall, Half-Pint Prairie sent 221 packets of seeds to 25 people, including one student at their home in Ohio. The organization is no longer mailing seeds, but anyone seeking seeds can visit an in-person seed library on campus in the UT Tower.
“It’s really just great to learn more, it gives you a sense of accomplishment,” Hammond said.
“It’s good for your workspace to have plants. It’s just all-around beneficial, and we want to make that accessible and fun to students.”
Microfarm will host a virtual seed planting workshop on April 25 at 1:30 p.m. using this Zoom link.
A series of Campfire Chats is another popular CEC event.
“It sounds like we all gather outside and tell stories, but they’re just like speaker events and they don’t have too much restriction on what they’re centered around,” said Samara Zuckerbrod, the CEC Education & Outreach Coordinator.
For Earth Month, CEC focused on the topics of sustainability and eco-advocacy.
“This year we particularly wanted to emphasize collective action,” Sannigrahi said. “That’s kind of the point of the eco-advocacy workshop is to promote action and advocate for sustainability and environmentalism.”
The CEC also created an Earth Day art contest focused on the 2021 Earth Day Organization’s theme of Restore Our Earth. Submissions were open to a variety of creative forms and required a three-to-six sentence explanation.
“After we get all the submissions done, we’re going to do kind of a voting thing via social media so it can be decided by peers. Then we’re going to announce it at our bi-monthly speaker events,” Zuckerbrod said.