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A spirit that is not afraid

Office of Sustainability’s annual picnic back after two-year hiatus

<p>The Office of Sustainability hosted it's annual sustainability picnic on Wednesday, Aug. 31at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum&nbsp;</p>

The Office of Sustainability hosted it's annual sustainability picnic on Wednesday, Aug. 31at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum 

Students and members of the community gathered at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum Wednesday, Aug. 31st, to connect with various campus and local organizations through the Office of Sustainability’s Annual Picnic.

The event returned after a cancellation in 2020 due to the pandemic, and 2021 due to inclement weather. The picnic hosted 35 booths, ranging from on-campus clubs and research organizations to local recreational and volunteer groups who all fell under the office’s four points of sustainability: nature, economy, society and wellbeing.

Jennifer Morse, outreach and communications manager for the Office of Sustainability, says the event has traditionally been to connect new students to different organizations.

“In particular, it's been a welcome week event to connect incoming freshman because they're right here on campus, so it's at the Arboretum, super easy to get there," Morse said. "There’s lots of student groups they can join, there's academic programs, like the sustainability minor, things like that. Ways to volunteer, Campus Kitchens is there, different resources from around campus like Auburn Cares, Health Promotion and Wellness, Campus Rec is there, things that bolster your individual wellbeing, as well.” 

The event served food that was produced by the on-campus hydroponic lab, who had representatives present at one of the booths to give students information on what the lab is doing and how to get connected to it. All meals were served on frisbees with reusable cutlery for students to take home, although there was a bin in case attendees did not want to take them.

All of this was part of the office’s zero-waste goal for the event. By having every piece of waste either compostable, repurposable or recyclable, the event produced little to no waste. Morse says her one regrets is not finding a way to remove plastic film from the backs of the promotional stickers.

Organizations from both on-and-off-campus came to connect to attendees and inform them on what they do, how they can join, volunteer and help.

“We just want to talk to students and let them know we're here for them,” said Emelia Larson, senior in horticulture, who served as an ambassador for the AU vertical farms.

Schools, such as the College of Agriculture which operates the vertical farm, sought to show both new and returning students various research and educational opportunities across campus. Erin Calhoon, sophomore in natural resource management, said most of the students visiting her booth were biology students looking to go into more specific fields of study. 

“Most of the people we’ve shared specific information with have been probably second year,” Calhoon said.

New students were able to find both organizations and individuals who they thought they shared ideals with.

“Coming out and seeing like minded individuals is a really nice thing, especially your first year, first month. Its really nice to see a community doing this” said Jack Joiner, freshman in natural resource management. “You feel like you actually have places to go where before you might've gone to a school where there was no real clubs or if there was a club it wasn’t to your liking. There's so many options, it's like ‘oh I can join any of these and be happy and content and be with people like me.’”

The Office of Sustainability will be hosting monthly events, including Cycle September next month.

Tyler Schmidt | News Writer

Tyler Schmidt, junior in culinary science, writes for The Plainsman news section. 

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