Does Earth Day Matter? [VIDEO]

April 25, 2018

Of course, Earth Day is enormously important, but why celebrate one day a year when we should really adopt an “Every day is Earth Day” mentality?

Gould celebrates Earth Day to jumpstart an awareness in our students of their responsibility as lifelong stewards of the outdoors. The environmental issues facing our students can be overwhelming, but the Earth Day program at Gould attempts to demystify those obstacles and give each student the confidence necessary to enact real change now.

Twelfth graders tackle a carbon-neutral living space.

Earth Day program organizer Tracey Wilkerson explains, “Our goal was for students to work collaboratively to seek solutions to problems that are relevant to them. Can we improve our recycling practices on campus? How can we reduce our consumption of single-use plastic? Can we envision a carbon-neutral living space?”

With these questions in mind, Tracey, along with science teacher Peter Southam and Director of the Marlon Family IDEAS Center Sara Shifrin designed a day of workshops that asked students to find solutions to these complex questions.

Get an inside look at the day in the video above and hear from Lucas St. Clair ’96 and Auburn Putz-Burton ’21.

The Keynote

The day kicked off with a keynote address from Maine Congressional Candidate Lucas St. Clair ’96. Lucas drew upon his time at Gould and his experience advocating for the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument to deliver a hopeful and powerful message to the Gould community.

“Each of us has the power to make a difference. Through our individual actions and through collective actions. We can recycle and change our habits. We can push our leaders to get serious about climate change and support collective action like the Paris Accord. We can raise our voices for clean, renewable energy.”

The Workshops

After Lucas set the tone for a successful day, students broke off by class year to tackle tangible problems. Twelfth graders designed functional carbon-neutral living spaces. Eleventh graders created PSA films on the topic of single-use plastic. Tenth graders got their hands dirty digging through waste bins to gauge how well we recycle, and Ninth graders found alternative solutions to using paper cups and plastic lids in the dining hall.

Tenth graders sifting through campus waste from the dorms.

Breakout groups were given studio time to brainstorm and work through several iterations of the scenarios with guidance from faculty and special guests T.L. Tutor ’07 from ReVision Energy and Gould Earth Day pioneer Bonnie Pooley. Group leaders took turns pitching concepts to their classmates to fine-tune ideas and decide which solutions to present at the end of the day Town Hall meeting.

T.L. Tutor ’07 and Bonnie Pooley join the community for the day.

A Local Lunch for the Ages

Food Science and Systems students coordinated an amazing local lunch with dining services. Highlights included pork from Gould’s farm, local carrots, potatoes, greens, Maine Atlantic salmon and kelp, and Maine blueberry crisp with Gifford’s vanilla ice cream. Community members learned first-hand how satisfying a meal can be when it travels a short distance to your plate.

Enjoying a local lunch courtesy of the Food Science and Systems class.

Presentations and Wrap-up

The afternoon culminated with the community once again gathering in Bingham. The presentations revealed how productive and inventive the group sessions had been. Student leaders from each grade thoughtfully fielded feedback with well-informed responses.

Jay Riley brought the day full circle when he recalled a story from Lucas about a representative at Senator Susan Collins’ office conceding to him, “I think we’re going to have to stop ignoring you.” Mr. Riley challenged students, telling them that even though these ideas are great, it’s not enough. “You’re going to have to get used to meeting with resistance. You’re going to have to be patient, and you’re going to have to be passionate. You are going to have to find a way to elicit that response that says, ‘I think we’re going to have to stop ignoring you.’ Now let me hear your idea.”

Twelfth graders presenting on a carbon-neutral kitchen.


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