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Service Learning Environmental Communication 2013

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H.O.P.E. for the Earth was the theme of the semester-long service-learning program for COMM 4060 Environmental Communication.  Students were involved in several on-campus and community outreach events for Earth First, a week-long series of community-wide events during the week leading up to Earth Day, April 22, 2013 highlighting the efforts of several community organizations dedicated to environmental stewardship and awareness.

Environmental Communication students represented the department at the BGSU Eco-Fair, where city and county agencies and university and community organizations focused on environmental issues, green products, and student-community outreach efforts. “I enjoyed the service learning and the various activities outside the classroom,” said COMM 4060 student Sarah Martinelli. “I was able to get more out of the class by actually doing.” Students helped plan and implement the Fourth Annual BG Community Earth Day Celebration. Held on Montessori School of Bowling Green’s 14-acre grounds, children from age three and up were involved in hands-on environmental learning activities.

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“The kids were having a blast doing all sorts of activities, and they were not just there goofing off, but it seemed like they were really learning from the activities presented to them,” said Jordan Gerbers (’13). “Seeing the kids wanting to learn about the environment and what little things they could do to help, was honestly an inspiration because when I was young we never did anything like this.” New this year was the partnership with Project H.O.P.E. Equine Assisted Therapies.   Environmental Communication students proposed and hosted northwest Ohio's first and only Earth Day 3 R's event.  The two-day event promoted community partnership building to protect and preserve the environment with sustainable practices: Repurpose, Reuse, and Recycle to commemorate Earth Day.

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“One thing that isn’t discussed a lot by Communication students is the importance of being able to work and converse with a diverse group of people,” said Marisa Vittoria (’13).  “That is definitely one thing that I really enjoyed within my service learning. I got the chance to work and converse with a variety of people such as Project H.O.P.E board members, kids that utilize equine therapy, and community members. Not being originally from Bowling Green, it gave me the chance to feel as if I was a part of the BG community.”

Environmental Communication students spent the semester conducting research and developing outreach materials for Project H.O.P.E.'s newest initiative:  Community supported and sustainable agriculture strategies.  Partnering with BGSU Environmental Communication students and faculty and the Montessori School of BG, Project H.O.P.E provides education on composting natural animal waste for use in organic gardening and farming.

The course “this semester has proven to be one of my most informational, meaningful, and impactful classes I’ve had,” said Jordan Johnson (’13). “It is impactful because it not only educated me on an important field of study, but it also impacted the surrounding community as well through our service learning projects.”

“Most importantly, this class has taught me to think critically”, said Don Bonesteel (’13). “I will think about the decisions that I make and take into consideration the effect each decision will have on me, my peers, my employer, my family, my community, my state, my nation, and my planet. I will do the best I can, in whatever way that I can to help clean up the environment and leave the world a better, safer, and more habitable place to live for the future generations to come.”

Vittoria said, “I hope that this class continues throughout future semesters, so that other students can become aware of these issues and also advocate to preserve the world around us -- conversing about environmental issues, but also in environmental activism, media representation, and service learning endeavors.” 

“With the knowledge I’ve gained in class, I understand and also make others understand the importance of environment,” said Johnson. “Through Dr. Lengel and this course, I have enacted some of the steps in the process of environmental communication: educating and making a call for mobilization to others. This is what I imagined Dr. Lengel’s hope for this class is about: creating students who are informed, inspired, and willing enough to make changes in the environment or in people’s behaviors that will make a difference in the world.”

See also a Journalism Public Affairs Reporting blog for more about this event.

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Dr. Lara Martin Lengel and communication students at the H.O.P.E. for the Earth 2013 event