To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, the Austin Community College (ACC) campus in Elgin did their part to help Mother Nature with Earth Week, which featured events and projects to make the campus more environmentally-conscious.
ACC has a Green Team, which is made of the faculty, staff and students who volunteer to improve environmental sustainability in each campus.
ACC Elgin kicked off their first day of Earth Week by giving a tour of the Sustainable Farm, led by sustainable agriculture manager Marissa Lankes. The Elgin campus is environmentally-conscious when it comes to keeping their farm animals safe from pesticides, Lankes said.
Instead of pesticides, they try to use all-natural remedies. They also have cats who live on the farm to help get rid of pestering rodents, and they use natural herbs and plants that repel insects from their growing crops. The campus also has a rainwater harvesting system to use reclaimed water for irrigation, as well as water-conserving plumbing fixtures to help reduce water use. These are a few ways ACC feels they can give back to the Earth.
During the tour, the students observed a demonstration of real-life farm work. Travis McPhaul, an instructor at ACC, and two other students showed how to muck, or shovel manure into a different place.
The following day, ACC had an Earth Wellness Walk, where the few who participated got to experience a one-mile nature walk starting on the campus trail that connects to the Shenandoah walking trail.
Throughout the week, ACC Student Life also helped the Green Team with a clothing swap. The students were able to donate their clothes, then swapped out with clothes they liked. Instead of buying new, this is another way to recycle.
The ACC library also held a book swap for the students, complete with a display of books about sustainability created by librarian Sarah Peterson.
The great finale came on the last day of Earth Week: the butterfly garden! Sonia Ran-gel, an employee of ACC and a member of the Green Team, said the ACC Elgin campus was able to obtain a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for their monarch way station, which serves as a corridor between San Antonio and Waco. It gives the butterflies a place to rest while migrating.
Rangel, and the other volunteers who helped to build the butterfly garden, all agreed it was a fun project to work on. It was time well spent, knowing it was going to improve the environment and enhance the beauty of the campus.
ACC Elgin is not just a college to educate their students, but also a campus that believes in improving the environment and helping preserve all life, whether it be big or small.