Connecting with nature and protecting the planet will be the focus of Niagara College’s first Earth Week celebration April 17-25.
Hosted by NC’s Office of Sustainability, a roster of virtual initiatives will take place leading up to Earth Day on April 22 and beyond. Earth Week aims to provide an outlet for the College community to participate in sustainability-focused initiatives safely during the pandemic – in their own backyards and neighbourhoods, individually or with their families or roommates.
“At Niagara College, we strive to build a more sustainable future. It has never been more important to protect our natural habitat and reduce our carbon footprint as we take action to address climate change and help restore the health of our Earth,” said College president Sean Kennedy. “While we can’t gather in person at this time, I encourage our entire College community to get involved with Earth Week and demonstrate that we can make a difference #NCTogether.”
NC’s sustainability program and outreach coordinator Amber Schmucker noted that the initiatives are all about bringing the NC community closer to nature for the benefit of the planet, as well as the humans who inhabit it.
“With the ongoing pandemic and stresses at the end-of-term, we know that people are struggling with their mental health right now and our goal is to provide an extra push for our College community to connect with the land,” said Schmucker. “Being able to personally connect with nature makes you want to protect it – and the earth is precious, it needs protecting.”
With climate action and restoring the planet at the root of every sustainability initiative at the College, Schmucker acknowledges that a single cleanup or bioblitz won’t save the world. She hopes that getting involved with Earth Week will create a “spider web effect” among participants, leading to spin-off actions.
“Moving forward, we hope that our Earth Week activities create a mindset among our students and staff leading them to continue their stewardship throughout their daily lives,” she said.
The Office of Sustainability has branched out to include partners on a few of its Earth Week initiatives. For the first time, Indigenous Education at NC is co-presenting Earth Day and the Earth Week kickoff. The College is also collaborating with Brock University on a virtual cleanup in an effort to get the entire region involved. [View April 6 news release here.]
“We are proud of our collaborations with Indigenous Education and Brock University who share our interest in building more sustainable communities,” said Schmucker. “These valued partnerships have enabled us to offer a variety of virtual initiatives to our College community and beyond.”
Niagara Virtual Clean-up Registration April 17-25
NC and Brock University are hosting a Niagara Virtual Cleanup – and the entire community is encouraged to participate by cleaning up their own neighbourhoods from April 17 to April 25. This is the second virtual clean-up the Niagara postsecondary institutions have collaborated on since fall 2020.
To prepare for the virtual cleanup, NC and Brock have also launched a toolkit including specific guidelines to host safe clean-up initiatives. Participants from NC are asked to register for the cleanup on the College’s Sustainability website while those from Brock may sign up via ExperienceBU.
Participating students can become WWF-Canada Living Planet Leaders by completing a self-guided certification throughout their studies, where they will take on sustainability-related actions in the categories of volunteerism, personal application of sustainability, application of sustainability in academics, and leadership and teamwork.
The Office of Sustainability has partnered with Indigenous Education at NC to host a weeklong Instagram giveaway during Earth Week. Participants will have a chance to win an Earth Week Kick-Off Prize Pack. Details will be posted on April 19 on @sustainabilitync and @ie_nc. The College community is encouraged to register via NC Sustainability’s Earth Week Kick Off web page to receive updates leading to the kickoff.
Virtual Spring Bioblitz April 17-25
The annual spring bioblitz is back for 2021 with a virtual format that debuted last fall. Instead of participating on campus, ‘citizen scientists’ will inventory plant and animal species in their own neighbourhoods. The virtual bioblitz will be counted towards a student’s WWF-Canada Living Planet Leader designation.
Virtual Plant Along Series: Seed Starting & Garden Party April 21, 2-3 p.m.
Staff and students planning a window sill garden, container garden, or a raised bed won’t want to miss this Zoom event. The informal, remote gathering offers participants an opportunity to discuss their summer garden plans – or just join in to wish their peers well as the Winter term draws to an end.
Virtual Earth Day Celebration April 22
Organized in partnership with Indigenous Education at NC, the College community is encouraged to celebrate Earth Day by sharing a photo via Instagram celebrating their favourite way to connect with the earth. All photos shared on Instagram (@sustainabilitync and @ie_nc ) by NC students or employees will be entered for a chance to win an Earth Day-themed prize pack.
For more details about Earth Week or NC’s sustainability initiatives visit sustainability.niagaracollege.ca.
Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, spirits, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visitniagaracollege.ca.
Kennedy Earth Week: NC president Sean Kennedy and his wife Kerry enjoy birdwatching with a little help from their species ID guide. Kerry (NC Ecosystem Restoration alumna) holds invasive plant species which she removed during their walk.
Schmucker Earth Week: Sustainability program and outreach coordinator Amber Schmucker uses the iNaturalist app to help identify birds – a tool that will be useful for the virtual bioblitz.
Schutt Earth Week: Indigenous student success leader Emily Schutt connects with nature while enjoying a hike with her daughter Freya.