Arts & Culture

Oglethorpe celebrates Earth Day with environmental art exhibit, campus initiatives, student events

For more than 50 years, Earth Day has been celebrated to raise awareness of the need to protect our planet’s natural resources for future generations. This year, Earth Day will be observed at Oglethorpe in multiple ways across campus.

Campus Initiatives & Student Events

At Oglethorpe, efforts to be more sustainable and environmentally conscious through education and best management practices on campus have continued to grow, including in 2022 the expansion of the university’s sustainability initiatives.

Kinsley Williams was recently hired as Oglethorpe’s Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator. To honor Earth Day, Williams suggests to “first, greenify your space — think plants, LED bulbs, and recycling. Next, re-use (or don’t use) plastic bags and containers, and last, conserve water.”

Oglethorpe also recently reestablished and expanded Petey’s Garden to include a greenhouse in addition to numerous garden beds. This community garden allows the campus community to cultivate food and flowers and provides a low-cost food source for students. Students, faculty, and staff applied to adopt planting beds for the 2023 growing season.

Students stand with the trash they collected during a campus clean ups during the week leading up to Earth Day.

Students participated in two campus clean ups during the week leading up to Earth Day.

Director of Environmental Studies and Professor of Biology Dr. Roarke Donnelly oversees Petey’s Garden and advises student organization Environmentally Conscious Oglethorpe Students (ECOS). Together with Dr. Maura Dudley and Dr. Graham Wyatt, Dr. Donnelly spearheaded several events leading up to Earth Day, including a two campus clean-ups and a recycling demonstration.

During the first clean-up session, Dr. Donnelly identified several rare native plants, previously unknown to have been growing on campus: jack in the pulpit, toadshade trillium and river cane.

Students in Dr. Donnelly’s Introduction to Environmental Studies course recognized Earth Day by tabling at the Turner Lynch Campus Center to educate others on Earth Day and recruit members for ECOS.

Other student organizations celebrating Earth Day include the German Club, Oglethorpe’s Rotaract Club, and Models of OU.

The Rotaract Club invited students to attend the Murphy Candler Park Earth Day Spring Social, which raises awareness of ongoing park conservation efforts and volunteer opportunities.

The German Club hosted an educational meeting about community gardening in Germany and invited attendees to plant their own plants afterward. 

The Models of OU — in partnership with the Programming Board, Alpha Kappa Psi, and Nature Club — will extend the Earth Day celebrations by putting on an Earth Day fashion show on April 28, featuring small designers from Atlanta and the OU community.

OU Museum of Art Exhibition

Artist and advocate Ruth Westreich speaks with two biology students during the opening reception for "Creating Conscious Conversations of Consequence" exhibition.

Artist and activist Ruth Westreich speaks with two biology students during the opening reception for “Creating Conscious Conversations of Consequence” exhibition.

With a focus on environmental toxicity and climate change, the work by artist, activist, and philanthropist Ruth Westreich is a fitting addition to the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art — just in time for Earth Day.

Taking inspiration from nature and environmental issues, Westreich’s “Creating Conscious Conversations of Consequence” shows how personal and planetary health are inextricably interconnected. Through her art series, she creates hopeful scenarios for the future, leaving observers understanding that “we have no PLANET B.”

“My hope is that by touching people’s hearts through art, they will become committed to becoming part of the solution,” says Westreich about the exhibit, which runs through July 30. “My hope is that it will reach a point where the art takes on a life of its own.”

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