Club extends hand and knowledge to community
By Eric C. Deines
Young people sporting orange vests and picking up trash along highways and county roads near campus are not always lawbreakers. They could be members of Purdue University's Environmental Science Club. The club is active in many community activities, including Indiana's Adopt-a-Highway program, in which groups pick up trash along their own stretches of highway.
This year, ESC adopted both a highway and a stream, thanks in large part to the efforts of the club's president, Elizabeth Vucolo, a senior environmental plant studies major from Flemington, N.J. "I definitely want the club to be way more involved with community," said Vucolo. "This will get members to actually go out on field trips and clean up these areas."
Diana La Riva, a junior environmental plant studies major from Orange County, Calif., is excited about ESC's volunteer cleanup efforts. "I am always picking up trash at the beach, on the softball field, anywhere," said La Riva. "Back home in California, I would see all the trash on the freeway and would want to go pick it up. Having a sign that says 'Adopt-a-Highway: Purdue ESC' is going to be fun to know I'm a part of it."
In addition to their cleanup activities, ESC members will volunteer twice a month at New Community School, a West Lafayette elementary school. ESC members will help with the school's enrichment program, working on arts and crafts projects and games to teach children about taking care of the environment. A lesson about soil will conclude with the students eating mud pudding cups, and a recycling lesson involves a race to place plastic, glass and paper in the proper recycling bins.
Catherine Maddox, a senior natural resources and environmental science major and ESC secretary, said helping others learn to care for the environment is the bottom line for ESC. "Most environmentalists are portrayed as tree-huggers and activists," said Maddox. "What is great about ESC is that our focus is to educate people in hopes they will make more environmentally sound decisions in the future."
La Riva is also happy to able to send the club's message to children. "I'm stoked about working with the kids," said La Riva, a first year ESC member. "It could be really rewarding."
ESC members hope to get the club involved with more projects soon, like Celery Bog, a wetlands area and nature center near Purdue's West Lafayette campus. In addition to these activities, ESC is active on campus. As they do each year, ESC will operate an educational booth at Purdue's annual Spring Fest and on Earth Day."