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April 3, 2003
Babbitt encourages environmentally conscious students to get their hands dirty
By John Fischer and Scott Miller

Former U.S. Secretary of the interior Bruce Babbitt - keynote speaker at Ohio University's 2003 Baker Peace Conference - hopes to foster in today's students a greater sense of environmental responsibility. When speaking with members of the University's Environmental Management Program, Babbitt offered many specific suggestions for key environmental policy improvement.

Students considering entering environmental fields of study, Babbitt says, should consider the following recommendations:

Video - Click to Play "Vote," Babbitt says. One of Babbitt's beliefs is that voter opinion deeply impacts environmental policy; accordingly, ballot-box demand for environmental change can only result in more environmentally friendly government policy.

Babbitt also says learning about science - the nuts and bolts behind any environmental issue - is crucial. "Make sure to include enough science in your course selection," he says. "There is a tendency to emphasize policy because it's more fun, but in the future of a lot of environmental management is going to be determined by people who have a good grip on all of the underlying science."

It is equally important, Babbitt says, to realize that, much like charity, "environmental management starts at home." Babbitt says students - to better understand environmental concerns - should actively participate in their community's Earth-friendly projects, such as tree planting. "It's a wonderful, hands-on introduction to the environment," he says.

For several years, the Voinovich Center for Leadership and Public Affairs' Environmental Management Program has worked with more than 15 local watershed organizations providing technical assistance and research opportunities. Cooperating with groups such as the Monday and Raccoon creek watershed associations provides students and University faculty with practical experience, increasing their knowledge of local environmental issues including the assessment and treatment of acid mine drainage, a legacy of past poor mining practices.

To learn more about local watershed restoration efforts, including the Monday and Raccoon creek restoration programs, and other area environmental groups and programs, follow the included links to get involved. To subscribe to Confluence, a free, bimonthly e-mail newsletter produced by the Environmental Management Program covering watershed issues throughout the Central Appalachians, write Scott Miller at

Babbitt's keynote address kicked off this year's Baker Peace Conference. Today, three panel discussions will help shed light on key environmental concerns. Sharing the spotlight will be America's impact on global warming, oil dependence and national security and the politics of U.S. environmental policy.

Scott Miller, senior project manager, and Ohio University junior John Fischer work in the Voinovich Center's Environmental Management Program. Joseph Hughes, a writer for University Communications and Marketing, contributed to the story


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