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Sustainability conference aims to teach, promote green mindset

Elaine Knudsen

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Ashley Hernandez and Sarah Anderson run the raffle at the This Way to Sustainability conference on Friday. Photo credit: Elaine Knudsen

About 1,000 students showed up to the This Way to Sustainability conference, which showcased climate impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation strategies and implementation methods.

“The event is mainly being held to open up students to sustainable living,” said Austin Marshall, a volunteer. “A lot of members of the community are also involved, and they come to this event to share support and learn more.”

Upon registration in the Bell Memorial Union, participants were given biodegradable name tags that had seeds embedded in the paper. The purpose of this was to allow all attendees to take a little something home and give back to a more sustainable community.

Friday morning, the conference featured a student-run fashion show, which showcased clothing from a local secondhand store run by the Shalom Free Clinic.

Students promoted the repurposing of gently used items by modeling 16 different garments. All of the proceeds went to toward the free clinic.

The most popular event was the hydrogarden workshop that was held on Thursday. Coordinator Andrew May worked in preparation for the workshop for eight months, he said.

In collaboration with the locally run agricultural supply store, Agmart, a workshop demonstrated how to create resilient systems with limited recourses and how to adapt to adverse situations.

Students were taught how to construct hydrosystems in small spaces such as dorms or apartments. This workshop featured Michael Hasey, owner of Aquaponics Fuel Diversified Oregon Farm, who facilitated demonstrations and was a sponsor of the conference as well.

“This was the first time there had ever been this type of workshop at Chico State, and it sold out with no marketing tactics,” May said.

Each year, This Way to Sustainability features the Greenie Awards and holds presentations by local contestants.

The conference recognizes student accomplishments relating to sustainable solutions that have been implemented through their project, research, community involvement or other means.

The competition also recognized student groups from Butte County’s K-12 schools.

This year’s student winners were Chico State crop science majors Elisabeth Quick and Devin Wilson with the Organic Vegetable Project.

“The Organic Vegetable Project has been working hard since 2008 to raise awareness about local, organic food production and to establish a sustainable food system,” Quick said. “With the help from our fantastic volunteers, interns and employees, we’re excited for the future of sustainable agriculture here in Chico.”

The two-day conference featured seven guest speakers who are established members of the sustainability community. Some of the notable speakers were Dennis Dimick, executive editor if National Geographic Magazine, Jose G. Gonzalez, founder and director of Latino Outdoors, and Anne Waple, founder of Second Nature.

Throughout the conference various breakout sessions were held.

These featured in-depth discussions and informational videos all focused on sustainable living and building resilient communities with topics such as local responses to the ongoing drought, transportation behavior and many more.

The conference offered a lunch buffet that featured locally grown vegetables, free-range meats and organic products. The buffet encouraged food security and progressive farming practices.

Other topics at the event included: energy and the environment, infrastructure and transportation, climate Impacts on food and agriculture, water resources, laws, policies and business, population, science and technology, lifestyles, health and wellness, community partnerships and action, and educating for resilience.

Elaine Knudsen can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Sustainability conference aims to teach, promote green mindset