On Thursday evenings, the Jammin’ Java hosts more than coffee-lovers and socializing friends. The hum of voices includes serious discussion of creating ecological awareness and appreciation on campus.
Although coming from a variety of fields of study, all of the club members are concerned for the environment and desire to be good stewards.
The Earthkeepers Club exists to confront several environmental issues on campus and to make lasting changes. According to club leader Brandon Hoover, a senior theology major, they discuss issues such as recycling and ecological concerns involving Eastern’s ponds, streams and wetlands.
Jaimie Heck, club member and senior marketing major, is working on the beginning stages of a project to get community gardens on Eastern’s campus. The Earthkeepers Club is using Messiah College’s community garden as a model to present the idea to the administration in order to have it approved and to get funds. Messiah’s garden project required 70 volunteers and 2,000 hours to get started. Produce, such as tomatoes, lettuce and watermelon, is grown and can be sold.
The club is hoping to have the assistance of Dr. Socci, head of the business department, who is interested in gardening. According to Heck, the project would serve not only as a business but as a means of bringing people together, especially from different fields of study.
Sophomore club member Ryan Axt organizes Saturday work days on campus for club members to participate in. Axt is one of six interns for the Natural Areas Committee, supported by the biology department and working with John Munro, Eastern’s senior ecologist .
The students focus on stream restoration and removing invasive species. They remove invasive trees on campus that suffocate native plants. Axt and the others use the trees they cut down to create fascines, which they place along the eroding stream banks. The fascines restore the stream banks by allowing dirt and sticks to collect on them when it rains. Also, native plants grow on top of the fascines, strengthening the stream banks with the roots.
“It’s like fellowship,” Axt said of the group work days. “It’s fun; it’s exercise.”
Hoover has taken on a leadership role in the Earthkeepers Club this semester. It has become a trend that upperclassmen take charge, he said, but unfortunately that means that the momentum of the club is interrupted when senior members graduate. Eight members typically attend club meetings, which includes three seniors, one junior, one sophomore and three first-years.
“There never developed an underclassman appreciation for it,” Hoover said. “Our hope this semester is that we develop un