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Green Initiative Blossoming On Campus

student participating in HCC's sustainability effort

Giselle Hardy was trekking uphill to the arboretum on the Howard Community College (HCC) campus last week when something scurried through the leaves.

“It’s Benji,” she shouted as a groundhog quickly went out of sight. Hardy followed and peered into a hole in the ground. She smiled.

“I knew that’s where he lived. Well, one of the places.” she said.

As an intern for HCC’s Sustainability Team, Hardy has seen her share of wildlife on campus. She’s seen a family of hawks, ducks, Canada geese and deer. There is a beaver that frequents the pond, and a black snake known to cool off in the men’s shower room at the gym.

The semester-long internship has taught Hardy a lot about nature, and the many sustainability efforts at HCC.

“The amount of effort this school is putting in(to) going green is a lot larger than I believed,” she said. “There is a lot of effort being put in to educate and get the students involved.”

Hardy didn’t originally set out to get involved in environmental studies. But after bouncing around majors, biology and life sciences spoke to her the loudest. Last semester, she noticed the changes HCC was making to be more eco-conscious. She attended the Service Learning Fair in February and that’s where she met Bob Marietta, , facility renovations, sustainability, and safety manager.

“We talked about the different ways I could get involved with the sustainability – he mentioned the internship,” she said.

Fast forward, and Hardy is doing what she can to get HCC students to join in and volunteer for projects like stream clean up and mulching around the pond. In the next couple of weeks, she’ll help with the clearing out of invasive species, a project which will require many volunteers. She also recruits volunteers for Greenfest, held this year on Saturday, April 16.

“We need loads (of volunteers),” she said. “Any student can volunteer. It looks great on your resume. People love volunteer work.”

Walking along the many campus trails, Hardy spoke about some of the many projects she, volunteers and service learning students have partaken in. She pointed out plaques that identify trees in the arboretum, maintaining of the trails, the rain barrel by the library, deer-proofing measures taken to protect new trees, and the twenty-something rain gardens scattered throughout HCC. There will be more rain and conservation gardens added once the new SET building is complete, she said.

“Rain gardens – they’re everywhere and that’s important,” she said. Rain gardens catch run off from storms and prevent it from going into the rivers and the bay. The rain gardens at HCC keep campus streams clean.

As part of her internship, Hardy is working on a project to track the budding of the trees around campus. She’s involved with Project Budburst, a database of the growth and budding of trees, shrubs and wild flowers around the world.

“It’s a small project that I am trying to use to show the domino effect of climate change and how a change in one part of an ecosystem can affect the other,” she said. “My hope is that the interns who follow me can pick up where I leave off in May and keep watching.”

This is Hardy’s last semester with HCC. She will be graduating next month. She plans to transfer to a four year college and is considering a degree in biology or environmental science.

“No matter what I do, I intend on practicing the sustainability efforts I have learned here in my home and work,” she said. “I am more mindful now of how I am using the resources around me.”

Marietta said Hardy has done a great job.

“She’s learned a lot and had a great time too,” he said. 

Topics: Campus Life
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