Monday, April 9, 2018

Introduction to some of the Students at Connecticut College

 As promised, here we meet one of the Connecticut College GNCE students who, for his project, will be writing the blog for a while.   Part of Avalonia's mission is to communicate the value of our irreplaceable resources and what better way to do that than to have a student learn the value and then communicate it them self.   We will enjoy a youthful view on things for a while. Hopefully when it is my time to start writing again, I can report that spring has indeed arrived and there will be no more grousing about bad weather, cold, and storms. We all look forward to our spring stewardship efforts getting us back to the nature we love.   Beth

By Alan Lau

For the last six years Avalonia has been collaborating with Connecticut College students in the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment (GNCE). Approximately two dozen students learn about Avalonia, its achievements, and just how hard it is to keep a non-profit, non-political, tax-exempt organization running.

My name is Alan Lau, one of the sophomores in GNCE, and I will be taking over the Blog for a few weeks in order to update you all on the projects my peers are tackling. This collaboration between GNCE and Avalonia has truly been a great privilege for students that come from inner cities like myself. Before joining GNCE and learning about Avalonia, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much work it took to manage a land trust. Then our good friend Beth came along and briefed us on just how complex the organization is. Officials must deal with governance, membership, fund raising, and a multitude of other aspects which all have a profound effect on the organization as a whole.

The first project is called the “Stop Sucking” campaign in which my fellow peers Anna Laprise and Avatar Simpson are pushing for the removal of plastic straws, by educating the public on the dangerous effects that plastic straws have on our planet and promoting alternatives that reduce plastic straw consumption. There are simple solutions to this problem, one of which is simply having reusable stainless steel straws, which can be cleaned and reused multiple times. Other solutions involve bamboo or paper straws which are much more biodegradable and recyclable than plastic. The problem with plastic straws lies in the plastic material which does not biodegrade but breaks down into small pieces of plastic that get consumed by animals and stay in the earth for hundreds of years. In addition to this, even if the plastic is recycled, only a very small amount of the plastic will actually be reusable until it goes back to a landfill. This problem is globally significant . The EU is pushing for a multitude of single-use plastic products like straws to be removed from 27 member states by the year 2030.
Here we have Avatar Simpson ‘20 and Anna Laprise ‘20. Their “Stop Sucking” campaign has already begun with local coffee shops on campus. One shop is beginning to tally how many plastic straws are being used per day and even adding stainless steel straws.

The next project is conducted by Jonathan Monderer. On April 7th, from 12-3pm, I and 30 other volunteers from Connecticut College went to Paffard Woods in Stonington, CT to help pull Japanese barberry plants that have invaded the stream line in the woodlands. At this time of year, the pulling is easier than other times due to wet soil. Some clipping was done but pulling was the best way to get rid of the roots. Once the plants were pulled, we used garden carts to bring the plants up to the parking lot to make piles for later removal. Getting rid of invasive plants is crucial to the survival of native plants around the area because they disrupt the food chain since the invasive plants do not have the natural predators they would have in their native lands.
Here we have Jonathan Monderer ‘20. He led the Work day at Avalonia’s site in Paffard Woods in Stonington, CT. Jonathan is on the Connecticut College’s Ultimate Frisbee Club where he recruited more than a dozen students to help with the work day on April 7. 

In all, we GNCE students are enthusiastic about our projects. We are ready to reach out to our communities to educate them on the land management, land preservation, and spreading the knowledge which corresponds to Avalonia’s mission of continuing to protect the threatened and declining habitats by conserving its natural resources. 

Paffard Woods is the location where Jonathan's work day took place on April 7.

A beautiful bridge in the Paffard Woods Nature preserve, crosses the stream where the Barberry grows.

Photographs by Beth Sullivan and  Alan Lau.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alan Lau, I'm planning an Earth Day-themed show for my radio program on WCNI 90.9 fm at Connecticut College Friday, April 20, and wondered if you would come on the show to discuss the GNCE "stop sucking" campaign. As plastics are the focus of this year's earth day, I thought the topic would be so appropriate and was pleased to learn that ConnCol students are addressing this. My show - called River Road - features folk and Americana music and occasional guests. It airs from 6 to 9 p.m. The studio, as you probably know, is located in the Krozier-Williams building (apologies if I've misspelled that.) Please let me know if this works for you. Helen Jankoski
    H: 860-599-3014 or you can text me at 203-258-5345.
    If you can't make it, could another student fill in?