Sustainability in December

Sustainability in December

Written by: Jenna Cox '17

December is finally here, which means that classes are winding down at Graceland as we approach winter break! I think I can speak for all students and faculty when I say: Thank goodness.

As the semester is coming to an end, this is a great time to share some of the service learning events that were coordinated this semester through Graceland Sustainability, in conjunction with the discourse classes.

Discourse is a relatively new kind of class experience at Graceland. These classes are meant to replace some of our previous gen-ed requirements, and one requirement of discourse is that students are expected to conduct/undertake service learning projects. This allows students to get hands-on class experience, which valuable not just for individuals, but for our campus as a whole.

This semester, multiple discourse students worked on service learning projects, which were facilitated through the sustainability program. They all worked very hard and, in doing so, have bettered our community and even made it a little bit prettier, too.

Students Griff Cady, Melissa Sherer, Evan Sloan and Jenna Pitstick worked together as part of their service learning project to perform prescribed burns in designated areas on campus and also at our local state park, Slip Bluff. Under supervision, they have been burning parcels of land that have been overgrown with invasive plant species, which can grow so densely that they choke out native plant species. The controlled burning clears out those non-native plants and gives beneficial native plants a much better chance at out competing other plants. This should allow for increased native pollinator habitat to grow over time.


Students Mark McKinney, Jordan Mogg, Robby Turk and Deon Williams collected seed heads from the native plants located in the Graceland campus rain garden. The hope is that the seeds can be scattered in areas on campus that have had a prescribed burn, so that plants that actually belong in those areas can have a chance to thrive. These students also trimmed down the plants in the rain garden to prepare for new growth when it warms up again in the spring.


Students Cory Oiler, Alice Nelms and Megan Hartnett undertook a recycling bin “makeover” project this semester. The blue bottle and can recycling bins on campus were installed in 2005, and they needed some attention. They were looking a bit drab, but with some nice wrapping paper, scissors, glue, paint brushes, Mod Podge and several hours of work from these students, the bins look as good as new. They are much more eye catching now, and will hopefully encourage students to recycle their cans and plastics on campus more often.


Sustainability really appreciates all the effort these students put in and hopes to continue partnering with students for service learning projects; these experiences are only the beginning.

Happy holidays from Graceland Sustainability! We’ll be back in 2017, rested and ready to roll. A lot of exciting things are happening next semester… we hope you’ll stay tuned!