To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day last April, The Princeton Review, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, published a comprehensive guidebook focused on institutions of higher education that demonstrated an above average commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities and initiatives.
From the Buffalo-Niagara region, only Niagara University was included on that list of the country's most environmentally responsible colleges.
One year later, Niagara is making preparations to celebrate that distinction and, more importantly, inspire awareness for the Earth's natural environment by presenting more than 20 eco-friendly exhibitions as part of Earth Day 2011. Because Earth Day is scheduled during Niagara's spring break, the university will present related activities on April 13.
Sponsored by Niagara University's Sustainability Task Force, a majority of the happenings - including a flying falcon demonstration, a Birds of Prey exhibit, an electronics recycling fundraiser and an appearance by David Stapleton of David Homes and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" fame - will occur in and around the university's Gallagher Center and Castellani Art Museum.
"The Niagara University community is extremely proud of the distinction that we received from The Princeton Review last year at this time," said David Ederer, chairman of the university's Sustainability Task Force. "What I have been even more pleased to see is how the Niagara faculty, staff and students have used this recognition as a springboard to initiate an even greater amount of sustainable activities - both in observance of Earth Day and throughout the calendar year."
Alphabetical listing of events:
Bamboo Sale: NUHOPE (Niagara University Helping Our Planet Earth) will sell bamboo stalks in small ceramic pots for $5 apiece. (April 12-14 at the Gallagher Center.)
Birds of Prey Exhibit: The eagles are returning to Monteagle Ridge! Local falconer and author Joel Thomas will exhibit his white snowy owl, stretch owl, eagle and peregrine falcon. Photos with the birds are welcome. (Gallagher Center Courtyard)
'Captain Planet' Marathon: "Captain Planet" episodes will play throughout Earth Week, alongside several displays about vampire energy, endangered species and double-sided printing. (Gallagher Center)
Carbon Footprint Calculation: Attendees will have the opportunity to calculate their personal carbon footprints and also enter to win a $50 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. (Gallagher Center)
Community Garden Plans: Along with ReNU Niagara, NUHOPE will exhibit the planned construction of a permanent community garden outside of DePaul Hall, next to the current greenhouse. The garden will be used to grow vegetables for local homeless shelters. (DePaul Hall)
Cornell Cooperative Extension: The research-based organization will be on hand to provide news on local agricultural efforts and to promote sustainable activities and environmentally friendly farming activities. (Gallagher Center)
David Stapleton Presentation: The David Homes president gained international fame from a January 2010 appearance on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The episode saw Stapleton lead thousands of volunteers through the green deconstruction of two homes in the Buffalo area and build the first Emerald Level green certified home in New York state. (5:30 p.m. at the Castellani Art Museum. Water and snacks will be served.)
Dumpster Dive: Student participation is welcome as NUHOPE members sort through Gallagher Center garbage and explain which materials are recyclable, how to recycle them, and how much landfill waste could have been avoided with proper disposal. (10 a.m. - 2 p.m. on April 12 in the Gallagher Center Courtyard.)
E-Scrap Recycling Fundraiser for Camp Good Days: Niagara, in partnership with Sunnking, is sponsoring a program that will allow employees, students and community members to drop off their unused electronics for recycling. Sunnking will then donate a percentage of profits, based on the volume collected, to Camp Good Days, an organization charged with improving the quality of life for children, adults and families who have been touched by cancer. (Gallagher Center)
Flying Falcon Demonstration: Thomas' majestic falcon will once again patrol campus skies during this once-a-year demonstration. (Gallagher Center Main Entrance)
H2Gro Table: H2Gro, a 12.5-acre greenhouse operated by Modern Corporation, grows hydroponic tomatoes for sale in local supermarkets. H2Gro's greenhouses utilize gas created by Modern's landfills to generate heat and use bees to pollinate the tomato plans. Samples will be provided. (Gallagher Center)
Kill-a-Watt Meter Demonstration: Guests will have the opportunity to discover the power usage of various household items such as a laptop computer, hair dryer and curling iron. (Gallagher Center)
Mass Looting: Throughout Earth Week, NUHOPE members will "loot" (i.e. remove bottles and cans) from garbage cans located inside Niagara's academic buildings. A comparison will be made between the unnecessary waste created at St. Vincent's Hall, home to recycling bins in every classroom, with other campus facilities. (Gallagher Center)
Modern Corporation Display: Niagara University's disposal contractor recycles a considerable amount of materials and is very active in promoting sustainable activities within local communities. Businesses affiliated with Modern that use the disposal company's recycled items include A-Turf and Modern Corporation Signs & Graphics, as well as numerous organizations that manufacture posters, rubber landscaping mulch, playground and equestrian surface materials and methane gas for heating. (Gallagher Center)
New York Power Authority Display: NYPA will host an exhibit showing how electricity is generated from water falling over a turbine that requires no carbon-based fuels to operate. (Gallagher Center)
New York State Parks Department Exhibit: Carol Rogers from the State Parks Interpretive Programs office will be on hand to display various eco-friendly exhibitions and provide information on local parks. (Gallagher Center)
Niagara Wind Consultants: Niagara Wind & Solar specializes in the installation of distributed wind energy systems. Based in Niagara Falls, the company has the ability to analyze energy needs and available wind resources and optimize turbine siting to maximize those resources while minimizing installation costs. (Gallagher Center)
Pop Art Display: Current Niagara students have created numerous sustainability-related art works for display. An original Earth Day poster by local artist will also be presented. (Castellani Art Museum)
ReNU Niagara Display:Information will be given on the Community Outreach Partnership Center's initiatives to install and maintain community gardens in Niagara Falls. (Gallagher Center)
Vegan Bake Sale: Muffins, brownies and cookies devoid of animal or dairy products will be for sale. (Gallagher Center)
Waste Technology Service Environmental Consultants: Since 1982, WTS has provided innovative environmental solutions to protect its clients and ecosystems. They are the largest non-asset based provider of by-product management services to refineries and complex chemical sites. (Gallagher Center)
World Wildlife Fund Raffle: Reusable bags, filled with eco-friendly items such as reusable water bottles, bamboo toothbrushes and green cleaning supplies, will be raffled. (April 12-14 at the Gallagher Center.)
Niagara University's Sustainability Task Force is headed by a steering committee, which oversees five subsidiary committees: curriculum; reduce, reuse and recycle; energy; our living environment; and sustainable lifestyles. Each committee is made up of a cross-section of university students, faculty and staff members.
For more information on Earth Day at Niagara University and the university's ongoing sustainability initiatives, visit www.niagara.edu/green.