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Earth Month readies to energize campus this April

Office of Sustainability kicks off month worth of environmental programming

For many, the word "energy" conjures up a long list of ideas – from electricity consumption to personal sustainability to community health. That versatility is what spurred Ohio University's Office of Sustainability to choose energy for this year's Earth Month theme.

With its goal of engaging and educating the campus community about environmental topics, the University's annual Earth Month celebration kicks off Sunday, April 1, with sustainable smoothies following the Athens Marathon. This marks the first of nearly 20 events hosted by community and University organizations that will take place on Ohio University's Athens campus throughout the month of April.

Through workshops, speakers, dialogues, films and festivals, Earth Month will encourage examination and celebration of humans' ability to change their ecological footprints and the health of the planet. All events are free and open to the public.

Under the direction of Sustainability Director Annie Laurie Cadmus, the Office of Sustainability took a democratic approach to this year's celebration, enabling campus and community groups to take the lead on programming through a series of eight mini-grants.

According to Mary Leciejewski, a graduate student with the Office of Sustainability, preference was given to grant applications that directly connected to Ohio University's Sustainability Plan. Leciejewski added that the office was more concerned with the quality of programming than the quantity of Earth Month events.

"I think it's wonderful that we've been able to expand the program to include everyone throughout the institution and really encourage people to take advantage of the Earth Month brand and therefore increase our scope of audience," said Cadmus. "This is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved and view sustainability through their own lens."

For the first time in University history, the Office of Sustainability moved Residence Challenge to coincide with Earth Month. 

Res Challenge – which annually pits OHIO residence halls against one another in a race to reduce electricity consumption – is a natural fit for Earth Month's energy theme, said Cadmus. She added that the move will better enable OHIO students to understand what can be done on an individual level and a community level to help reduce stress on the environment.

Other Earth Month highlights include:

•  Learn and lunch about beekeeping on April 6 with a beekeeping workshop and lunch followed by a showing of "The Vanishing of the Bees" at the Lancaster Campus. The workshop beings at 10 a.m. and the film begins at 1:30 p.m.

•  Fit sustainability into your workday with "Lunch and Learn with Guy Riefler and John Sabraw" in Baker 235 on April 11 at noon. Lunch is provided, but participants must RSVP to sustainability@ohio.edu.

•  The three-day workshop "Permaculture Basics for Small Spaces" begins on April 14 in the Ecohouse. Participants will learn basic permaculture principles to help begin designing productive, low-maintenance and ecologically sound small spaces. For more information and to RSVP contact sustainability@ohio.edu.

•  The Athens Farmer's Market comes to Ohio University on April 27 at the Howard Hall site at the corner of Union and College Streets.

•  Frack Fest on April 28 from noon-5 p.m. at the corner of Union and College Streets will educate and raise awareness of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" through speakers, musicians, entertainers, crafts, displays, and food.

For more information on Earth Month 2011, including a complete list of events, visit the Office of Sustainability’s website.