By: Keri Luise, Staff Writer
Photo by Amanda-Jean Carroll/ The Towerlight
Towson University’s Office of Sustainability, Eco-Reps and Albert S. Cook Library hosted events around campus for students to celebrate Earth Day.
The week of events included an ecology walk through Glen Woods, a tree pruning lesson, an Earth Day trivia event, cleanups and “Little Albert” plant giveaways. Earth Day was also honored through Towson’s annual day of community service known as “The Big Event.”
“The intention of these educational events is to provide the community with an opportunity to connect to nature and to highlight the importance of conservation,” said Patricia Watson, Assistant Director of Sustainability. “Studies have shown that spending time outdoors reduces stress, increases productivity and increases environmental stewardship.”
John Lehman, a landscape technician from Towson’s Landscaping Services, led an hour-long ecology walk through the 10 acres of the Glen Woods.
“During the walk we discussed the history of the Glen, from its beginnings of farmland to the secondary forest that it is today,” Lehman said. “Also, we pointed out the amazing and diverse flora and fauna that call the Glen home, including but not limited to, the whimsical Pawpaw tree to the car alarms of the forest – blue jays.”
Teresa Westhead, also a landscape technician from Towson’s Landscape Services, helped McTague at the tree pruning workshop. Westhead said they are “trying to go green in our landscaping practices.”
“We are growing some of our own native plants from seed in the greenhouse,” Westhead said. “Native plants are extremely important in the landscape and help to provide many environmental services to us. Since they are native, they are better adapted to the soils and grow well without added chemical fertilizers and don’t succumb to insect pests as do plants that are exotic.”
English Language Center teacher Mark McTague demonstrated tree pruning 101 to Towson students. This lesson provided students with the basic technical knowledge of caring for trees in the environment.
McTague believes that these Earth Day events are beneficial to the campus “to the extent that they remind people and/or open their eyes in various ways.”
TU’s campus is looking for ways to improve and promote green practices all year long. According to Watson, the mission is to “facilitate the advancement of sustainable practices by collaborating with offices throughout the institution, advocating for environmental stewardship and serving as a resource for the university community.”
As part of the Landscape Services crew, Lehman works to not only care for and maintain TU’s green spaces, but also look for ways to improve them. Currently, he is working in the bioretention ponds on campus.
“The bioretention ponds on a dry day look like a garden inside a ditch but on a rainy day they quickly become a small bog of sorts,” Lehman said. “What the ponds do is accumulate all the rainwater that is precipitating and slowly release it back into the groundwater. The slow release of storm water minimizes erosion and sediments from entering waterways. Less erosion can improve soil stability, water quality in local streams, and the overall appearance of the campus as a whole.”
This week of events was also connected to TU’s “The Big Event.” The Office of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility and “The Big Event” Committee hosted the event on April 21. Students, staff, faculty and alumni participated in community service around the area to give back to the Towson community.
Watson, Office of Sustainability student worker Kimberly Joseph, and Eco-Rep Mark Jenkins participated in cleanups in the area.
“We [picked] up litter along our waterways, including the Glen stream, Towson Run and a tributary that runs along Osler Drive,” Watson said.
In addition to these individual events, TU’s campus is working to promote a green campus, including providing alternative modes of transportation like shuttles and Spin bicycles, promoting the use of recycling containers, establishing solar panels, using motion detectors for lights, and more.
“So, get outside and have some fun!” Watson said. “You’ll be happier and healthier for it. Whether you join Campus Rec for a hike, hop on a Spin bike, eat a meat-free meal, or simply recycle a plastic bottle, you can make Earth Day every day at Towson University.”