As we celebrate Earth Week 2022, we’re reminded that numerous Lawrence students are doing important sustainability-focused work.

Two of those are senior Lauren Kelly and junior Emma Zelles, leaders of the Lawrence University Environmental Organization.

Kelly, an English and linguistics major from Appleton, is the outgoing president of the student organization. Zelles, a junior psychology and philosophy major from St. Paul, Minnesota, is the incoming president. They both say their time at Lawrence has opened their eyes to how important sustainability is in their lives.

“Being a part of sustainable projects like the ones we do on campus helps me feel like I’m making an environmental difference in the grand scheme of things and gives me a sense of purpose during my time here,” Zelles said.

The LU Environmental Organization is a student-led group best known for coordinating Lawrence’s residential composting program. In addition, the group members have facilitated battery recycling programs, instituted a campaign for reusable menstruation products, and held several educational events on topics such as recycling.

Sustainability has a big impact on the Lawrence campus, and Zelles and Kelly are among the students leading the charge toward progress. They work in step with other environmental organizations on campus, as well as with the LUCC Sustainability Committee.

Among their Earth Week activities will be chalk art on April 19 outside of Memorial Hall; a campus cleanup on April 21; and the sharing of information during an Earth Fest event on April 22.

As college students, it’s easy to feel your voice is lost in a crowd. However, the LU Environmental Organization makes a point to hear concerns from any member of the campus community, whether that be student, faculty, or staff. One aspect that drew Kelly to sustainability at Lawrence was that she could pursue her majors in English and linguistics and still be actively involved in sustainability efforts.

Both Zelles and Kelly want their fellow students to know that sustainability efforts are very collaborative and student driven, although they give a lot of credit to Grace Subat, sustainability and special projects fellow in the President’s Office, for helping them in their initiatives. It is the nature of a community that is so willing to listen and learn that makes such collaboration and progress possible, they said.

In addition to their emphasis on collaboration, Zelles and Kelly want students to be aware of educational resources available on campus. They encourage everyone to look for informational signage and to reach out with questions or concerns.

“This really is something that makes a difference,” Kelly said. “It isn’t just for show.”

Looking to the future of sustainability at Lawrence, their plan is simply to keep improving. Zelles is hopeful for even wider educational efforts across campus, while Kelly is looking forward to more members of the Lawrence community realizing that sustainability is an effort that everyone can participate in.

They’ll be joining Greenfire and other groups at Lawrence in marking Earth Week events, coordinated with the LUCC Sustainability Committee. Among the highlights:

Tuesday, April 19:

  • Native seed planting, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Screening of the film, Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock, 8 to 11 p.m., Warch Cinema

Wednesday, April 20:

  • Greenfire stargazing with physics professor Megan Pickett, 9 to 10 p.m., Kohler Hall roof.

Thursday, April 21:

  • Chalk art, 3 to 5 p.m., Memorial Hall

Friday, April 22:

  • Presidential signing of a climate commitment, 4 p.m., outside of Main Hall
  • Painting the Brokaw retaining wall, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., under Drew Street walking bridge

Saturday, April 23:

  • Annual Campus Clean-Up, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Bird walk with Kai Freuh, 1 to 2:30 p.m., outside Warch
  • Sustain-A-Ball, 9:30 to 11:30 p.m., Somerset

Sunday, April 24:

  • ORC Paddling the Fox River, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Greenfire Earth Fest, 2 to 5 p.m., Main Hall Green