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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014

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Al-Saghir in lab

Assistant Professor of Botany Mohannad Al-Saghir inspects a plant in the biology lab at Ohio University Zanesville.

Photo courtesy of: Ohio University Zanesville

GreenBobcats event

Donna Jennings, a senior psychology and sociology major, and Lucy Edgell, a junior forensic chemistry major, promote recycling during Spring Fest May 2010.

Photo courtesy of: Ohio University Zanesville

greenbobcats recycling tree

Freshman Jessica Walton checks out the Green Bobcats' recycled products tree. The Green Bobcats promote recycling and reuse through a variety of lunch and learn trash to treasure events.

Photo courtesy of: Ohio University Zanesville

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Vision in Action

Zanesville professor encourages eco-efforts and education


This special Compass series features the programs and initiatives through which Ohio University students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends put the OHIO vision into practice every day.


Mohannad AL-Saghir, assistant professor of botany at Ohio University’s Zanesville campus, wants to make sure that the green on his campus is not confined to spirit wear.

AL-Saghir founded the Green Bobcats Environmental Club in August 2007 – a year after his arrival in Zanesville – to promote environmental awareness across campus. With its mission of bringing together faculty, staff and students interested in protecting the environment, the club offers hands-on education, conservation and community service opportunities to students of all majors.

Green Bobcats members participate in a wide array of campus and community efforts. They recruit nationally known speakers to spark debate on environmental issues. They adopt highways and clean up local parks, and they encourage activism through events such as Power Shift.

Current projects include filming a movie for the 48 Go Green International Online Eco Film Competition, a Trash-to-Treasures Lunch and Learn and a membership drive.

The club is also working to increase the visibility of Zanesville's recycling program.

Members have increased the number of recycling bins in campus offices and classrooms and have actively encouraged participation in RecycleMania 2011. AL-Saghir estimates that the campus recycled 900 pounds of paper and 800 pounds of bottles over the course of the eight-week recycling competition.

Since 2007, the Green Bobcats has grown from four to more than 20 students. AL-Saghir, who serves as the club's advisor, credits the club's rapid and sustained growth to the passion, enthusiasm and determination of his students.

"The students are very creative; they come up with all these ideas… They accomplished stuff in four years that I thought would take six or seven years," he said.

In addition to environmental education, AL-Saghir has involved students in plant research in Collegial Woods Passive Park – a natural area collaboration between Ohio University Zanesville and the Muskingum Valley Park District for local flora protection, low-impact recreation and educational opportunities.

AL-Saghir and student researchers inventoried the flora of the park to develop a public use database that helps create an understanding of the history, genetic diversity and biogeography of the park's flora.

Complete with trail map, ecological zone charts, pictorial slide show and related specimen table, the flora identification project is available at http://www.zanesville.ohiou.edu/alumni/flora.htm.

“For me, as a teacher, hands-on labs and field trips are important to enforce the lesson,” he explained. “You can lecture about some things for a long time, but people aren’t going to get it unless they see, smell or touch what you’re talking about.”