OU’s Office of Sustainability is the first place to go to learn about the school’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and to learn about environmental projects around campus. They also offer a biweekly newsletter containing information about sustainability projects.
Along with singular projects, there are various clubs such as Plant Club and the Green Initiative. Both clubs focus on environmental work in the Athens community, with Plant Club working on projects such as a cleanup of the Baker University Center Edible Garden and helping the Buckeye Trail Association work on a new trail.
An interesting feature of the Green Initiative, however, is their focus on green infrastructure around campus such as their work on the Schoonover Green Roof located on top of the Schoonover center. A green roof is a layer of vegetation planted over a waterproofing system on a flat or slightly slanted roof which provides shade and reduces heat in heavily populated areas.
There are various other green roofs across campus buildings as well as rain gardens by The Ridges and the Athens Community Center. A rain garden is an inexpensive and very beautiful way to reduce runoff and filter pollutants as well as provide food and shelter to insects and small animals within the ecosystem.
If you’re looking for a more immersive experience in environmentalism, OU has th OHIO Ecohouse, which was created with the mission of demonstrating affordable green technology and sustainable living, offered to both undergraduate and graduate students. As well as being a unique type of housing, the Ecohouse is also a learning experience as it includes a one-credit seminar that allows students to engage in conversations about sustainability and projects such as making natural soaps and repurposing waste plastic.
Sometimes, though, a project is not exactly what you need to connect with the Earth. Alongside conserving the environment for the overall safety and wellbeing of the people, a big part of why so many care so deeply about the environment is because of the peace that can be found in the middle of a hiking trail or the serenity and humbling found on the edge of the cliff. They are a soft reminder that you are a small part of the natural world.
For this reason, OU’s close proximity to Strouds Run State Park, Hocking Hills State Park and Wayne National Forest, to name a few, may be one of the most obvious yet most underrated environmental features of going to the school. You are going to school in a beautiful part of the country with hiking trails everywhere – take advantage of it!
Overall, OU is a spectacular place for the budding environmentalist to continue learning, growing and connecting with nature. There are so many easy ways to get involved around campus and plenty of resources to get you started.