Engage, Educate and Activate Sustainability Awareness
By Beth Portesi
SNC kicked off the 2nd annual Sustainability Film Festival earlier this week. The aroma of popcorn permeated the TCES lobby Thursday evening as students and members of the community filled TCES 139 for a screening of the film “Chasing Ice.”
The turn out was a huge success, with viewers sitting along the back walls of the room. The documentary film followed James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey team as they set up time-lapse cameras in the most severe conditions, to document the effects of our changing climate on glaciers. Balog is aware that people are bombarded with contradicting arguments, predictions, and statistics regarding the crisis of our planet. He sets out to send a message to people through his photography of what is happening right now, in our lifetime, due to carbon dioxide emissions. The Denver Post review of the film puts the film’s impression in perspective, “The scale of the glaciers, and the almost hallucinogenic clarity of the images, make the resulting footage, based on three years’ shooting, most impressive. One piece of ice we see breaking off is said to be the size of lower Manhattan.”
The Festival continued on Friday and Saturday with food, drinks, raffles, and prizes donated from businesses in the Tahoe area. The other featured films of the weekend included The Garden. Bidder 70, and Pipe Dreams.
James Balog’s TED talk on the Extreme Ice Survey project with the results of his study.
By Rachael Blum
My role in the Sustainability Club is as co-president with Marina McCoy. We like to give club members opportunities to explore and learn how to be more sustainable in their daily practices while also exploring and providing opportunities to attend neat events pertaining to sustainable matters.
Sustainability Club has had a slow start in regards to recruiting members. We are working on changing a few things, but plan to begin implementing projects including improved recycling on campus, food improvements in the bookstore, student bus passes, fill stations etc. Meetings are Mondays at 6 pm in TCES lounge.
For the Sustainability Film Festival on Nov. 6-9, we have made efforts to make it a Zero Waste Event by teaming up with IVGID’s Waste Not program. There will be recycling and composting bins available on site to help reduce the waste we generate.
By Rachael Blum
Parent’s Weekend on Oct. 12 was full of activities to better convey what Sierra Nevada College is all about! The men’s team competed in its first lacrosse game, parents could listen in on academic panels, President Gillette hosted a BBQ, and the ODAL program provided a hike around Spooner Lake.
It was a perfect fall afternoon to get parents moving and into the woods. The aspens were showing off their colors and the sky was as blue as ever; morale was high as about 24 parents and students walked the two-mile loop around Spooner Lake.
Three students led the hike: Drew Fisher, a Journalism and ODAL major; Ashley Vander Meer, an Environmental Science and ODAL major; and myself, Rachael Blum, a Sustainability and ODAL major. Coming alongside us was Darrel Teittinen, an ODAL instructor at SNC.
The parents were very enthusiastic to learn about the Outdoor Adventure Leadership program and get outside. They were particularly impressed with the beauty of the area. Conversation was easy and continuous, bonds were made, and smiles were everywhere.
ODAL Program Chair Rosie Hackett added, “This was a great opportunity for our ODAL students to show off what they really do….active learning at its best. ODAL students can’t just talk about their education to their parents, they need to show their parents what they are capable of, i.e. LEADING!”
Climber, skier and adventurer Todd Offenbacher spoke at Sierra Nevada College Oct. 8, highlighting his climbing trips in Alaska and his ski mountaineering in Antarctica. What an awesome presentation for ODAL students! There was great attendance as well from the community and SNC students.
Cameras and flashes were going off from every angle. Cell phones and DSLRs were held in the air documenting stretchy pizza strands and raised glasses. The multimedia journalism class took a field trip to cover the English Department Pizza Party, Oct. 30, at DiMaggio’s Pizza. They spread the news via Social Media, audio interviews, photo slideshows, and Audio Soundslides. Check out their work here. Thanks to the English Department for hosting a fun event, and a learning opportunity for the Multimedia Journalism class.
Dr. Soraya Cardenas is a new Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies. Her areas of specialization are Environmental Sociology, Social Justice, Sustainability, Renewable Energy and Water Resources. She received her doctorate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She comes to Sierra Nevada College from the University of Maine at Fort Kent. Some of her accolades include Fulbright Scholar, University of Kansas Dissertation Fellow, recipient of a National Science Foundation Grant to produce a documentary with students on biomass, researcher of the year at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, and nominee for a statewide service award in Maine for her work with students and the community. Most recently, she just completed a manuscript for publication.
On a personal note, Soraya is a distance runner and currently is training for a marathon. She also enjoys downhill and skate skiing, hiking, snorkeling and biking.
Multimedia Journalism student and Sustainability major Sharhesa Fife interviews Soraya about when Soraya realized she was passionate about Sustainability.
The foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’ music from the Lost Sierra Hoedown is lingering long past the Sept. 20-22 event, as refrains of the student-led fundraiser for a shuttered ski area spread through the ski community.
This time, Freeskier magazine took note, and interviewed Interdisciplinary Studies students Drew Fisher, Rachael Blum and Cody Wilkins for an article about the event, “Sierra Nevada College students aim to preserve Johnsville Ski Bowl with Lost Sierra Hoedown.”
Besides detailing how the event was conceived and created, the Freeskier story explains the goals of the Interdisciplinary Studies. Read the story on the link above, but also consider how Sierra Nevada College’s “experiential learning” is lauded in the final paragraphs of the article:
The project certainly met the underlying goal of the Interdisciplinary Studies service learning project; the event taught them more about leadership in the outdoor adventure arena than anything in a lecture hall ever could have. The school encouraged Drew Fisher, Cody Wilkins, and Rachael Blum to try something different, and then provided the support to meet that objective.
A four-minute video produced by Sierra Nevada College students was highlighted during the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s convocation for teachers and faculty this year.
The powerful video was about Yami Gutierrez—a Sierra Nevada College (SNC) student and a graduate of the local non-profit program Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC). It was shown at the beginning of the Tahoe-Truckee school year, so teachers could understand the ARC program better and be able to recommend students to participate in it.
Two talented students— Nick Cahill and Trevor Jackson—majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies in Digital Arts and Entrepreneurship/ Management filmed and produced this video for a service learning project to support ARC. A youth development organization that integrates wilderness and literacy, ARC was founded by SNC Professor Katie Zanto in 2004.
“The entire school district is reminded about the power of the ARC program through their video. It’s a great example of how a Service Learning project can have a huge impact on a local organization,” Zanto said.
Not only are Outdoor Adventure Leadership students confident in the wilderness, they are compassionate in the community – due to the Service Learning component of Sierra Nevada College’s Interdisciplinary Studies department.
“Our students are doing innovative and great things through their service learning and senior portfolio projects,” said Assistant Professor Rosie Hackett.
Katie Zanto, left, and Rosie Hackett, right, are presenting at the International Conference for Experiential Education.
And others are taking notice of SNC’s exceptional program. Katie Zanto, chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies department, and Hackett, program director of Outdoor Adventure Leadership, have been invited to speak at the International Conference for Experiential Education, Oct. 31-Nov. 3, in Denver, Colo.
“It has been exciting for us to collaborate on this presentation and in the process, to explore how our unique interdisciplinary studies program is offering outdoor adventure leadership students the chance to bring their ODAL skills back into their communities,” said Zanto.
ODAL 201: Outdoor Leadership
Reflection by Sage Sauerbrey
Field Weekend Expedition: Star Lake
Sept. 6-8, 2013
“Outdoor education is the re-education of humanity. When we embark on an expedition, we are learning what we already know, but it has been buried by years of cartoons, comfortable beds, and trips to the grocery store. This subconscious knowledge is closer to the surface for some people. For this Outdoor Leadership class, it preceded and followed our every thought. It is the knowledge of the power of wild places and how to travel through them. It is the love of gnarled juniper or the taste of a wildflower. It is the instinct that points you North in a grove of trees and the reason that leads you South at the whim of a compass. It is the knowledge that brings us together in outdoor places, fully understanding why our team members will silently stare off into the distance with curious and contented smiles in their eyes. The Wilderness is full of us. You can find us in rain-drenched bivvy sacks, sun-baked boats, story fueled campfires, and here at Star Lake, California.”
For more of Sage’s writing on wilderness, visit his blog, thehalfheartedfanatic.