Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner, the guest speaker at ESF’s Convocation, told the graduates they have been entrusted with a sacred duty.
“You are the people the world needs today,” Wagner said, speaking during the ceremony at the Landmark Theatre.
Wagner, the executive director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville and a nationally recognized lecturer, author and performance interpreter of women's rights history, said the ESF graduates have been entrusted to take care of Earth.
Weaving native Haudenosaunee beliefs into her address, Wagner said Earth is the “bringer of life,” and therefore, all of Earth, and the dirt humans plant gardens in, is sacred.
“Turn the spiritual upside down,” she said. “The soil is sacred.
“The sacred resides not in the sky but the Earth, in dirt,” she said.
Wagner said Earth is demanding respect after years of use by humans and that survival requires an “attitude change” by the people who use Earth and its resources.
She urged the graduates to remember that regardless of where their lives take them, they will be living in a place that needs to be understood, cherished and protected.
“It will be tedious and grinding,” she said. “But history will be perched on your shoulder, reminding you that what you are doing will be a critical part of saving life.
“Now you are the stewards,” Wagner said. “Yours is the sacred work.”