Levermore Global Scholars (LGS) had their second annual Community Service Day Program on Thursday, August 20th and Friday, August 21st. Students came together before school started and participated in community service activities – a way to bond, while making a difference in their surrounding communities.
First Day – Thursday, August 20
On Thursday, students and faculty were introduced to a non-profit organization, Grassroots Environmental Education and to their “How Green Is My Town?” project in particular. The organization focuses on research of the leading environmental problems and finding alternative solutions to raise awareness of health and environmental hazards. As representatives shared their roles and connections to the organization, students began to realize how dedicated Grassroots staff members are to make the world a greener and healthier place.
To give us an idea of what their organization does, students were asked to role-play and discuss topics related to environmental pollution. Students paired up with other participants and were given a few minutes to research a particular problem related to environmental health. They were then asked to find practical, alternative solutions. At the end of the research session, the ultimate goal was to make Patti Wood, the Executive Director of Grassroots Environmental who role-played as the town mayor, aware of the problem. Students took on the role of concerned citizens who tried to convince the mayor to use alternative solutions that would be better for the community.
As part of the training, students used the website of “How Green is My Town?” to find all the information and solutions to the environmental issues at hand. The website can be used in many great ways, such as providing information on environmental issues and links to other organizations and companies that have found great solutions already.
Overall, the workshop held by “How Green Is My Town?” was an effective way for us to understand and identify the various environmental pollutants and make environmentally friendly decisions based on what we learned during the workshop. We were also provided with a tool set to determine how green a park was, how green a town was based on how many green points it earned on the “How Green Is My Town?” index.
After the training, students had lunch and mingled with each other. Gaining energy, they traveled to the Hempstead Lake State Park to meet with the Park Manager and learn about the importance of green public spaces in any community. After learning about how this park serves the community, students helped clean the park.
LGSers were responsible for cutting branches that were in visitors’ way on the path around the lake. They also picked up the trash that was around the lake. It wasn’t very difficult to do, but it felt great doing something important. The job was finished, and students and chaperoning faculty (Dr. Susan Briziarelli and Yana Kusayeva) headed back to Adelphi.
Second Day – Friday, August 21
The second day of community service was held at the Garden City Bird Sanctuary. Mr. Rob Alvey, as a professor of geology and employee at the Environmental Protection Agency, is also the person in charge of the Garden City Bird Sanctuary. Upon our arrival to the GC Bird Sanctuary, Mr. Alvey gave us an excellent introduction to the work of the organization.
As we went on the tour, we learned a portion of Garden City's history. The Bird Sanctuary was originally a neglected and storm water basin filled with trash. Water and trash from rainstorms and local stores/houses eventually led to a contaminated storm water basin that was not serving its purpose, until Mr. Alvey came along. As he explained his role in the GC Bird Sanctuary, we saw the passion and dedication he had to recover the basin into a space that demonstrated "environmental stewardship through education and volunteer community services." Neighbors, Boys/Girls Scouts, Local College/High Students would volunteer their time to help Mr. Alvey and transform the storm water basin to what is now known as the Garden City Bird Sanctuary.
Volunteers would clean up the trash and garden trees and plants friendly to the environment and the local eco-system, welcoming both people and animals. While volunteering, people become knowledgeable about the impact certain pesticides have on the environment, and how Styrofoam cups that they may have used at one point, could potentially end up in the basin. These Styrofoam cups never disintegrate or become useful to the environment. Instead, they pollute our surroundings.
The Garden City Bird Sanctuary is a great place to work with and learn from because one learns so much by seeing the damage (trash) left behind in the storm water basin. Yet, one can also see the continuing progress that is made. The Bird Sanctuary has encouraged other communities to transform their neglected space to be environmentally friendly.
After learning the history of the location, we participated in planting, removing weeds and making bird houses. It was amazing to learn how one person’s vision was able to bring the whole community together and bring a positive change to environment.
The 2009 community service day program may be over, but the LGS students and faculty have only just begun the year to follow with more events and community service, raising awareness about environment and global issues.
Written by Roshini Givergis '12