Students and Faculty Participate in Campus Greening

Posted: November 27, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

During this time of year when earth colors are popular, leaves fall and cold sets in, environmental buffs assembled for a campus greening endeavor.

On a recent, chilly November morning, students and faculty gathered at the corner of Patriot Circle and Rivanna River Lane to create a learning garden of shrubs and woody plants native to the region.

students digging

“When the campus was originally developed, many of the natural, native plants were taken away,” says Andrew Wingfield, assistant professor at New Century College, and one of the project coordinators.

Wingfield’s Intro to Conservation Studies course requires students to earn experiential learning credit. By getting involved in the campus greening efforts, the students and faculty were given the opportunity to put back what was lost.

“Our initiatives are really gaining some momentum,” says Wingfield. “This is just one of many various campus greening initiatives to get underway. It’s great to have something tangible in the ground that’s representative of the development and progress of the campus.”

Project organizers had been meeting with Mason facility managers during the summer to find a suitable location on campus in need of “greening.” The particular area was chosen because it had become trampled by pedestrians.

Twelve different plants were planted along a new pathway of mulch for pedestrians to walk on, and plaques will soon be in place to identify each plant. The plants were donations from Earth Sangha, a Buddhist environmental nonprofit. Earth Sangha Co-director Chris Bright was also on hand to supervise.

Kristen Culp, a student who participated with the planting, said the greening was a great start to improving the look of the campus.

“Chris gave us detailed instruction on how deep to dig, the right soils and proper spacing,” says Culp, a junior majoring in integrated studies. “I was surprised with how many people showed up to help out. Everyone worked really well together and we got it done really fast.”

University officials plan to continue with development efforts like this and increase environmental awareness around campus.

At the Faculty Senate meeting on Nov. 29, resolutions relating to greening the campus, including creating a Green Education Task Force, will be introduced. A petition drive will also be held later this fall to emphasize Mason’s energy use and its role regarding the environment. And there are plans to hold environment-focused events throughout the week surrounding Earth Day in the spring.

David Kuebrich, associate professor of English, is scheduled to host a two-day workshop on Jan. 16 and 17 to educate faculty on how to incorporate environmental issues in the classroom.

“We’ve set a lot of the ground work to get things moving, and we’ve got a lot of plans in place,” says Kuebrich. “With the support of the faculty and central administration, we’ll be in great shape next year.”

green path
The newly planted area and walking path.
Photos by Joe Milmoe

Write to at