This semester, Maureen McCartney encouraged me to teach Environmental Biology as one of our “First Year Only” classes. If you don’t know, these classes catch students during their first semester at Westfield State University, giving them an opportunity to bond and learn together as a cohort. It has been a really cool experience for me watching these students grow as they confront all that life throws at them during their first semester away from home. Recently, the students “volunteered” their lab periods to clean up the University Wildlands and property along the Westfield River. They cleaned up several home remodeling dump sites (bathroom tiles and sinks), many vodka nips, a whole lot of Dunkin’ Donuts rubbish, tires, a TV, dental flossers, garden gates, and the trash left at an abandoned homeless camp. Few had ever seen a homeless camp or really considered being homeless. It gave us all some time to reflect on our own lots in life – and good fortune. All together, the students cleaned up two pickup truck loads and a trailer full of rubbish.
Give a pat on the back to these students when you see them, for participating in the cleanup and making WSU a nicer place:
Shannon Wallace, and
Jason Hinton, who is not in the class but was bored and came along to help.
Also, thanks to our awesome new lab tech, Sarah Tomas, who got the necessary supplies for us to do the cleanup!
Michael Vorwerk, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Environmental Science
Westfield State University
Westfield, MA 01086