Emma Lohman – Staff Writer
On Sunday, May 2 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Gustavus students can visit the Arboretum to participate in games and educational activities and learn about topics related to climate justice, conservation and sustainability.
A dozen student organizations will be represented including the Environmental Action Coalition (EAC), Campus Activities Board (CAB), Fly Fishing Club, Students for Reproductive Freedom, Ducks Unlimited, Geology Club, Chemistry Club, Society of Physics Students, Tri-Beta Biology Honor Society, Student Senate, the Radicals and IGNITE.
Each organization will have its own table on the front lawn of the Arboretum, which will be spaced out to allow for social distancing. There will be a welcome table at the entrance to the Arboretum where students can check in and receive a bingo sheet. Students are encouraged to visit every table, and if they return a completed bingo sheet, they will be entered into a drawing for a prize. It is expected that students wear masks and follow standard COVID-19 protocols.
Junior Lily Engebretson, who is an environmental studies major, has been the primary organizer of the event. Engebretson is the Diversity Leadership Council representative for the EAC, a Sustainability Intern and student worker in the Linnaeus Arboretum. Engebretson believes that this event will offer students a nice break from screens. She is hopeful that the weather will be nice this weekend and that students will bring their friends to the event.
“The goal of the event is to get Gusties outside and involved in outdoor education and exploration. It is also a way to bring the community together as the year comes to a close and a chance to recognize that as students, we are connected to the Earth that we live on and we need to respect it,” Engebretson said.
The Discover the Outdoors event was started in 2017 as a way to reach out to the St. Peter community. In the past, the event has been directed toward youth, but because of COVID-19, this year only Gustavus students will be allowed to attend. Engebretson recognizes that student organizations haven’t had a lot of opportunities to be a part of large collaborative events this year due to the pandemic. She believes this event is a good opportunity to allow organizations to engage with their members in-person and to introduce first year students to clubs that they may not have known existed on campus.
Students for Reproductive Freedom is one of the organizations participating in the event.
“We will be doing a giveaway of several menstrual cups and having a bunch of sustainable menstrual products available for folks to pick up and try out for themselves,” Junior Emily Falk said.
“We will be talking about the intersection of climate justice and reproductive justice at our table and providing resources for folks so they can make more sustainable choices for their cycle,” Falk said.
The Environmental Action Coalition (EAC) is also planning to have a table at the event. They will be discussing Line 3, a pipeline going through Indigenous land in Northern Minnesota, and its negative effects on the environment.
“We will be showing [the effects] with a water contamination example called an Enviroscape. This shows how pollution, like the crude oil from the pipeline, will be carried into the land and bodies of water. We will also be sharing some photos and stories from trips people in EAC have taken up north to see Line 3 construction and their experiences at a water protector camp,” Sophomore EAC Member Tessa Johnson said.
Johnson encourages students to attend the Arboretum table as well, where they will be doing a pond study.
“This involves taking water samples from the pond and putting them in trays and examining all the different little critters there are. These critters are very important to the pond ecosystem because they show the water is healthy enough to sustain life,” Johnson said.
Students can also plant succulents, make homemade suncatchers, try out electric bikes and participate in a scavenger hunt. In addition, there will be information about the Linnaeus Deliberation, duck calls, waste sorting, and sustainable fishing.
Engebretson hopes that the event will spark curiosity and that Gusties will realize the intersectionality between our actions and the environment.
“We’ve had such a challenging year, but I hope to finish it off with a positive, uplifting educational experience,” said Engebretson.