VERMILLION, S.D. -- Each April 22, Earth Day unites people around the world in working toward environmental protection and restoration. In Vermillion, the occasion is recognized in a way as unique as it is educational: with a full week of events known to the campus and community as Earth Days.
The University of South Dakota’s sustainability program and Greening Vermillion, the community sustainability organization, have devoted April 17-23 to celebrating and protecting the planet. People and businesses can come together to learn about local environmental issues and how to instigate change.
“There is a broad understanding that humans are having dramatic, and largely negative, impacts on our environment, and it is easy to feel powerless when faced with such large and complex problems,” said Meghann Jarchow, assistant professor of sustainability at USD, president of the Greening Vermillion board and the event’s overall coordinator. “Through Earth Days we hope to empower the Vermillion population to be positive agents of change for our environment.”
Featured guest speaker Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D., is a research entomologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. He investigates ecologically based forms of managing insects and weeds and will be on campus to deliver two different presentations on Monday. The first takes place at 1 p.m. in Beacom 244 and will cover his findings on bees and pesticide risk; at 3:30 p.m., he will move to Churchill-Haines 101 to discuss how biodiversity relates to pest problems.
This year’s event begins with the Creation Care program on Sunday, which encourages local churches to focus on earth stewardship. Other happenings include showings at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Monday of the documentary film “This Changes Everything,” inspired by Naomi Klein’s bestselling book of the same name about seven communities impacted by climate change; Green Thursday on the Platz; the Earth Day Fair in the Muenster University Center on Friday; and new events such as Ufford Family Farm Fun Day. On Saturday, Greening Vermillion will present its findings on community visions for a more sustainable Vermillion. The organization received a South Dakota Community Foundation Innovation Grant in 2015 and will use Visioning Vermillion, a fun and interactive event, to showcase how the money will be spent.
Earth Days T-shirts can be purchased online for $13 through April 13. They will be available for pickup at any of the week’s events where the Sustainability Club will also have a limited number of shirts for sale. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit vermillionearthdays.com.