By Cadi LaCourse, President

Earth Day membersKatie Beach  Kelsey ottmann  Cathryn Cunningham Elizabeth Dunn Kaisha Muchemore  And Vanessa Berry

From Left to Right: Katie Beach,
Kelsey Ottmann,
Cathryn Cunningham,
Elizabeth Dunn,
Kaisha Muchemore,
And Vanessa Berry.
(Photo by Nicaela Giglia)

   Since January, the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) Sustainable Campus Coalition (SCC) has been planning an Earth Day celebration for the university. The event gathered ovvera hundred students and community members together to celebrate Earth Day together.

   The SCC dedicated a great deal of time and effort to make the event a great success. SCC member Kelsey Ottmann has dedicated a great deal of her spare time to planning and coordinating the event. The group came up with the idea of seed planting because they felt that it would be an activity that students would really enjoy. “We figured everyone likes to be outside in the sunny spring weather,” said Ottmann, “eating delicious local foods while enjoying a cookout, listening to live music and planting some seeds.”

   Just after 6 pm, UMF’s Amphitheater came to life as people began arriving to plant seeds and enjoy a cookout and live entertainment. It was a rather chilly evening, but that did not deter the participants from enjoying themselves. As the sun was setting and the scents from the charcoal grills filled the air the local family group, Pardy Hardy, took the stage. Peter Hardy and his wife Meng, along with their two children make up the group. They volunteered to perform as a part of the celebration as a way to share the day with the school and the community. “Earth Day is about celebrating Mother Earth and life,” said Meng Hardy.

   The SCC organized this event as a way to remind everyone at UMF about the importance of respecting the earth. “We would like UMF students and community members to have a heartfelt appreciation for this amazing planet we live on,” said Ottmann, “and to realize that even simple actions such as eating local food or planting in recycled containers has a positive effect on the earth.”

   Ottman was personally motivated to become involved with the SCC and Earth Day preparations because of a desire learn more about sustainability and to educate others as well. “I love working with the SCC,” said Ottmann, “to put on fun and educational events for UMF.” Ottmann has served the UMF community as an SCC member for four years.

   The SCC provided everything the participants needed to plant the seeds purchased by the club. “The soil is being donated from Sandy River Recycling,” said Ottmann, “as they make their own composting soil at the recycling facility.” Repurposed planters will be used for the planting. “Sticking with the Earth Day motto,” said Ottmann, “all the seeds will be planted in recycled containers.”

   The entertainment for the event also included performances from Lauren Crosby, David Carr, and Clefnotes. Jude Leaver also added a spark to the chilly evening event with a fire spinning performance. The crowd was very excited about this part of the event. UMF student Audrey Gidman came especially to see Leaver and his friends perform their routines. “I came to see my friends who are fire spinning tonight,” said Gidman.

   Mouths were watering as the traditional cookout dessert of s’mores was served. The SCC provided the chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers to make the sweet treats. There was also fresh produce and baked goods for guests to enjoy. As the sun drifted lower in the sky and the event began to wind down there were happy children running around, faces smeared with chocolate and marshmallow. The crowd seemed peaceful and content, as they listened to the final performance of the evening, making it clear that SCC had done their job making the event a success. “This Earth Day event seemed like a great way to bring together the school and the community,” said Ottmann, “and to celebrate sustainability.”

   Earth Day means something different to everyone.  For Ottmann it is a chance to show ones love and respect for the Earth. “Personally Earth Day is all about appreciating the ground you walk on and the sun shining on your face,” said Ottman, “and knowing that nature is a beautiful thing.”