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Think before you drink (water)

Think green and blue this month. Campus Sustainability Day is a time to recognize the successes, challenges and innovations of sustainability in higher education. Students, staff and community members can drop by any of the eco-friendly events prepared for that day on campus

The 8th annual Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue comes back Oct. 27 and will welcome an estimated 200 guests. This year, the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education will welcome three panelists who will talk about the protection of Southwest Florida’s water resources and coastal environments.

Jeremy Frantz is one of the panelists and the environmental policy specialist at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. His work includes planning for the protection of Southwest Florida’s natural resources and quality of life, and his involvement includes the petition-gathering campaign that placed Amendment 1 on the 2014 ballot. Amendment 1 will provide funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands by dedicating 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents for 20 years.

Joy Hazel is the second panelist and the Sea Grant Extension agent in Lee County. Hazel plans, implements and evaluates need-based marine and natural-resource educational programs.

Win Everham, a professor of environmental studies at Florida Gulf Coast University, is the third panelist.  His research interests include examining the impacts of enivironmental disturbance, including exotic invasions and anthropogenic activities on forest communities and ecosystems.

“These people are going to elaborate on how things used to be, how the system has degraded and what actions have been destroying our water system,” said Andrew Stansell, a student assistant who has been working for the center for five years.

Stansell said the center will provide a brochure during and after the event for anyone interested in learning more about protecting the watershed, the event, the panelists and Amendment 1.

“The biggest action component is educating yourself and others,” Stansell said. “How can you see something change if you never saw what it was like before?”

“We’re going to stress voting,” said student assistant Kevin Bedson about supporting Amendment 1.

Both student assistants are fishermen who say protecting the environment is a must. They agree that students should participate in their local government and vote on issues such as those that affect water quality.

The center’s student assistants are not the only people planning, organizing and welcoming students and community members for environmental-sustainability events. Five other events are happening this October.

By visiting the Cohen Center 247 on Oct. 22, students can learn about FGCU’s Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System Report. The event starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 3 p.m.

Also on Oct. 22, the Green Halloween Costume Swap will be from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. on the library lawn. Students, faculty and staff are all welcome to participate by bringing costumes that they no longer want, and they can swap with other attendees.  Pet costumes and accessories are exchangeable as well. For those who do make a swap, the Physical Plant will provide free admission passes to the Imaginarium Science Center in Fort Myers.

Aramark will coordinate watermelon carving. Members of the Cosplay and Costuming Club will paint faces for anyone interested. Students that do participate and post a “selfie” of their painted face to the FGCU Sustainability Facebook page, the participants will have the chance to win a $20 gift card.

A Food Day Symposium will take place on Oct. 23, and will involve activities in the Student Plaza from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., a “Lunch and Learn” where students can eat Truly Organic pizza and watch a documentary in the Cohen Center room 247 from noon-4 p.m. and a discussion on food justice and sustainability from 5-7 p.m. in the Cohen Center 162.

Students can learn more about the event and register for it at:  http://www.foodday.org/74186/florida_gulf_coast_university_food_day_symposium

Student Government will sponsor a Farmers Market from 1 – 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24 in the North Lake auxiliary parking lot. Visitors will be able to buy fresh produce, clothing and jewelry.

Students can register at http://conta.cc/1xZVJfK to particpate in Make a Difference Day from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 25.

Then, the student-led Terry Tempest Williams Dialogue begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. Oct. 27. Guests are welcome to stop by the Student Union Ballroom at 5 p.m. for a networking session with members of 10 community organizations.

Katie Leone, the environmental stewardship and sustainability coordinator, helped organize several of the events but will be unable to attend the Dialogue.

“I will be at the Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference during the Terry Tempest Williams Dialogue, so I’m sad to be missing that,” Leone said.

Leone has worked on the committees planning food day, Campus Sustainability Day and the Green Halloween Costume Swap. She also advised some of the SG leaders organizing the Farmer’s Market.

The Terry Tempest Williams Dialogue is one of the center’s two signature-series events. Preparation for the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture, which will occur in late January, is underway.

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