First-year Northern Michigan University student Oliva Walcott of Allendale, Mich., is actively working with the NMU campus and Marquette community on behalf of the environment. In her short time she at Northern, Olivia has taken the initiative to better the campus and local community through a number of projects. The environmental science major is working to create an on-campus composting program, which has required her to work closely with housing staff, fellow students, professors and community members. She is also a member of the NMU Garden Club that recently developed a community permaculture garden on campus. She works with the NMU Hoop House in offering educational programs on food sustainability. She is the co-coordinator of the Northern Climate Network and assists in organizing its community-wide climate change colloquia series. Olivia has also co-hosted an educational workshop about recycling for fellow NMU students in her residence hall. In all of these efforts, Olivia demonstrates she can explain scientific and environmental concepts to people unfamiliar with their complexities and inspires others to engage in learning more about these important issues. Olivia continues to demonstrate passion, initiative and drive in giving back to the community through her environmental action.
I have witnessed how the growth of a community and gardens go hand in hand. I began by working to make a composting system for the on campus housing of Northern Michigan University. This would effectively divert precious organic matter from the landfill to green spaces on campus. These green spaces have poor soil quality and will benefit from the nutrients of the organic matter. The biggest challenge of this project has been educating others on how composting will cut back on the waste being produced, make students more aware of their waste, and benefit the earth. Most of my work has been done in NMU's hoop house. There, I work with others to plan crop rotations. That has proven to become a balancing act between meeting the needs of the community ranging from supplying the culinary students with vegetables to supplying plants for community workshops to doing what scientifically makes sense for the hoop house. Overall, the growth and interconnectedness of the community is inspiring.