By: Theresa Schempp, Staff Writer
Students and faculty alike showcased environmental research and discussed local conservation efforts Friday, during the University’s 7th Annual Environmental Conference.
Hosted by the Office of Civic Engagement and Leadership and supported by the Office of Sustainability, the conference included multiple breakout sessions and a keynote address by Robert Summers, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences and former Maryland Secretary of the Environment.
“A huge part of working on this campus is who you know and who you can partner with to make it effective,” Office of Civic Engagement Coordinator Kevin Albano said. “Our office is all about making those connections and giving faculty, staff, and students the resources to get done what they want to get done and sustainability initiatives are a part of what we do.”
The Office of Sustainability was responsible for a waste audit and making the conference a zero waste event, so all the utensils used during lunch were compostable. The TU Eco-Reps assisted with the waste audit and discussed environmental initiatives on campus. Students were also able to network and meet with potential employers.
“This conference is really a great opportunity for me and other students to see what is out there in terms of jobs or fields to study,” environmental studies student Cole Roelke said. “Hearing them present and then being able to actually talk to them afterwards is really helpful and gives me so many resources.”
Conference presentation topics included stream restoration, plant diversity and the economic and fiscal impacts of natural gas.
Presenters included researchers and representatives from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Stream Restoration Association, TU’s Fisher College of Science & Mathematics and other local universities.
“There’s tons of students and members of the community who are interested in this but don’t really know how to get involved,” Albano said. “[This conference] can pique their interest and get them involved or want to start studying or working in the field, and it’s great to be able to see all of that in one place.”
Students could also get one-on-one time with presenters and attend a panel discussion led by Towson alumni.
Daniela Beall, graduate student for environmental initiatives, said that the alumni panel was one of her favorite parts of the day.
“When I attended as an undergrad I ended up connecting with one of the alumni, so it was a foot in the door for an internship opportunity,” Beall said. “Putting that together for this conference was really exciting, and to be able to reach out to alumni, invite them back, and give that opportunity to the next set of students was incredible.”
During the networking hour, faculty and students presented their research through posters and allowed attendees to ask questions.
“Attending the discussions and absorbing new knowledge, that’s great. But there are two other aspects,” Beall said. “One is the networking. The alumni, the presenters, they are people working in the community that are seeking student interns and people from this program for jobs so that’s a great opportunity. And the other is showcasing the great student research and faculty research that is coming out of this university.”