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ESF Students Worry about Humans’ Relationship with Earth

Earth Week time capsule documents concerns for future

The video associated with this story has been removed. Contact web@esf.edu if you need further information.

What kind of place will Earth be in another 25 years? The answers offered by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) students as part of an Earth Week 2012 project reflect their hopes for balance, education and sustainability.

The students' comments have been incorporated into a video that will be placed in a time capsule to be sealed shut April 17 during Earth Week. In 25 years, when the capsule is opened, those same students will be invited back to campus to see how many of their concerns were addressed.

Among 25 students interviewed by fellow students, three main themes emerged: balancing human need with the environment, educating people about environmental concerns and finding environmentally sustainable solutions to fossil fuel usage. Concerns about clean water, clean food, clean fuel, and protection of wildlife and natural resources rounded out the comments.

Junior Erika Stoddard said she hopes to see a new form of renewable energy to replace oil, and she expects it to come "through political and technological advances." Funmi Afelumo, a senior, said people must be more aware and think of "the environment as our priority," recognizing "this is our home."

Many students said their solution to the issues facing humanity and the planet is education, and they vowed to educate people after they graduate from ESF. Freshman Audrey Hamilton said she will teach people to protect wildlife, while junior Kyla Brick went a step further with hopes to instill a "broader awareness" in the public about species conservation from mega fauna to microorganisms. Senior Chelsea Geyer hopes to get a job in which she can help educate the younger generation about the environment.

The concept of sustainability cropped up often, as sophomore Ben Boisclair emphasized making "sustainable designs." Samantha Steele, a sophomore, said she hopes the "sustainability revolution will be in full swing and that awareness and education are increased." Sophomore Thomas Ryan said he hopes that "Earth and its people invest more time in research" in solving environmental problems. Senior Sam Curran wants to see what he calls "environmental benevolence" become more economical.

The idea for the time capsule came from ESF students. It will eventually be placed in a special glass-enclosed setting planned for ESF's new Gateway Center, where it will remain until ESF's Alumni and Family Fall Barbecue Weekend and Reunion in October 2037.

For now, the filling and sealing of the stainless steel box will be a highlight of Earth Week. At a special ceremony at noon Tuesday, April 17, in Moon Library, the video will be placed in the box with other items suggested by members of the campus community:

  • A yearbook from 2011, the college's centennial year
  • relevant news clippings from the 2011-2012 school year
  • 2012 photos of the ESF campus
  • a map of the campus
  • an ESF mug traditionally given to incoming students
  • an acorn from the school's signature Robin Hood oak tree

ESF Community Service and Service-Learning Coordinator Elizabeth Mix said there is one other item deemed important enough to share space in the time capsule: a collection of letters submitted by students and faculty about their hopes for the earth's environment over the next 25 years and what each writer will do to achieve that vision. Adding to their significance, these letters will be printed on paper made by ESF paper engineering students.

"We felt that since the environment is extremely important to ESF, letters relating to our environment over the next 25 years are a significant part of this time capsule," Mix said. "Earth Week is the perfect time to do this. Earth Week is the biggest week of the year at a school that celebrates the environment."

The time capsule event is just one of many activities planned on and off campus for Earth Week, which runs from April 15 to April 22.

Events begin Sunday, April 15, as ESF hosts a hike to raise funds to bring potable water to the Honduran village of Buena Vista. The hike takes place at Amberations park in Marietta.

There will be "Yoga on the Quad" each morning, presentations by ESF's student clubs, a demonstration by the ESF Woodsmen's Team, a raptor program on the Quad, and presentations by authors and environmentalists.

Among the presentations, author Tom Wilbur will speak Monday about his book, "Under the Surface: Fracking Fortunes and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale." On Wednesday, Syracuse University hosts a panel discussion, "Toward a Green Economy," and a talk by filmmaker Antonio Saillant. Also on Wednesday author Paul Roberts will speak about his work, "The End of Oil: The Real Cost of Change: the economic and political realities of a sustainable future." ESF alumnus Don Moore, the associate director of animal care at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., will speak Thursday afternoon about the effect of "Agrotransformation on Elephants and Tigers in Malaysia."

The week's events will culminate in a community Earth Day celebration, co-sponsored by the ESF student Earth Week Committee and the Green Campus Initiative student group, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 22, at Thorndon Park.

For details about the time and location of events and to see a complete list of events, visit the ESF Earth Week schedule at www.esf.edu/earthweek.