Earth Day: Honoring Our Precious Planet

Sustainability Champions take part in Bee Campus USA ribbon cutting ceremony at Dandini Garden.
Jared Libby

April 20, 2023, was a special day for TMCC’s community, students, faculty and staff. Not only did we celebrate the vitality of our beloved Earth, but we strategized on ways to sustain its prosperity for generations to come. The Year of Sustainability has impressed upon us that our future lies in the stewardship of every stoic emerald tree, fertile soil rooted in plants, carefree breath of the air, and gushing water in the streams. Safeguarding sustainable living begins with a choice, one we all need to make. Earth Day was an opportunity to give thanks for our generous environment, and continue habits that ensure we all have a place to call home.

Sustainable Life, Sustainable Might

The energy was high for those strolling through campus. The sun shone brilliantly, and the feeling of goodwill was in abundance. You couldn’t have picked a more perfect afternoon! It was like the Earth itself knew we were coming together, and gifted us with a sense of pure delight. You could stand in one spot, and soak up all the golden rays from up above. It was enchanting, and not to mention, incredibly entertaining!

Whichever promenade you chose to stroll through on Earth Day, you were greeted with booths, projects, and messages of sustainable enlightenment. A total of 38 tables were prepared to apprise you of sustainability outlooks, mingling with nearly 450 participating students and community members. Research initiatives lined the hallway parallel to Café Verde, with students eager to inform you about their respective techniques to combat diverse issues facing our ecosystem. Staying informed is a powerful asset, but action is the instrument of true change. Even if it’s something as simple as turning out the light in your room before leaving. You’ll start to cultivate patterns, and then it becomes second nature.

Allies from environmentally conscious organizations engaged visitors in the plaza, eager to grab your attention for a minute and report on the virtuous local endeavors actively taking place across Northern Nevada.

Did you want to increase your knowledge about native plant life and fauna? There was a booth for that. If you thought geology was fascinating, and desired to learn more about the Alta Formation (the rock of Dandini Campus), you were just a stone's throw away from educating yourself. Tahoe Food Hub was excited to give you insight into their sustainably grown produce courtesy of small family farms.

There was even a table surfaced with specimens of animals vital to our biosphere, alongside students equipped with insights on each species’ pivotal role. Kiwanis Club of Downtown Sparks were present, too, promoting their bicycle program; a charming project that teaches safety and repair, donating the majority of the bikes they refurbish to youth associations and schools. Anywhere you looked, a passionate conservationist venture was taking place.

The adorable baby goats from Goat Grazers might have stolen the show, though, lighting up children’s and adults' faces with each pet of their silky, cream-tinted fur. There’s something uniquely wonderful about walking to class and then hearing a faint bleat in the distance, only to be welcomed by the silly expression of a goat with too much grass in its mouth!

Bee Baton Relay Marches On

As the festivities of Earth Day progressed, it became time for the Bee Baton Relay, a short yet collaborative walk from the Student Center to the Dandini Gardens. Senators from the Student Government Association kicked it off, enjoying a pleasant march in the gorgeous weather to hand off the fuzzy black and yellow scepter to members of the Veterans Resource Center waiting patiently outside the Sports and Fitness Center.

From there, they set off towards the International Students, who then traveled to greet our friends in the LGBTQIA+ community, culminating in a final passing of the bumblebee staff to the Native American Student Services team centered in the plaza. You better believe the Sustainability Champions were there, too, and cheering every step of the way! All in all, it was about a ten-minute event, and anyway, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

As one great unified sustainable-advocate party, we stepped in harmony along the chalky dirt route speckled with slate pebbles up towards the garden for an inclusive ceremony: the Bee Campus USA ribbon cutting!

A Clip in the Right Direction

Families, friends, and kids, including TMCC students, faculty, and staff, stood enthusiastically at the peak of the terrace’s trail. There was a considerable crowd, showing up to support the success that TMCC has made in evolving as a fundamentally greener campus. Did you know we are the only certified Bee Campus USA educational institution in Northern Nevada? Today would forevermore be known in the city of Reno as TMCC Pollinator Garden Ribbon Cutting Day!

Dr. Cecilia Vigil, Biology Professor, was the first to speak and has championed the Year of Sustainability cause with the utmost devotion, confident that students are the agents of prosperity for a hurting world.

“So, I decided to read a poem to you all today that I think epitomizes what TMCC stands for,” began Vigil.

“To laugh often and much. To win the respect of the intelligent people, and the affection of children. To earn the appreciation of honest critics, and endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty. To find the best in others. To leave the world a bit better. Whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition. To know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.”

“Students are what makes TMCC amazing, and you motivate all of us. Faculty, staff, and administrators be the best we can be for you. Thank you. We appreciate you!” remarked Vigil.

Dr. Micaela Rubalcava, Education Professor, took to the microphone next, and her belief that intergenerational sustainability practices will safeguard our planet is grounded in sincerity and reality.

“One of the reasons why we had such a good year documenting over 170 sustainability activities at TMCC was because we reached for cultural relevance. One concept to retain the Year of Sustainability energy that we will be working on in the months ahead is Seventh Generation,” said Rubalcava.

She asked us if we knew what the idea was, and if so, to raise our hands. After that, she encouraged us to turn to our neighbors and briefly explain its core principles.

“Seventh Generation is a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy. This core value, practiced in Indigenous communities for thousands of years, was also discussed during the formation of the Constitution of the United States. It’s the notion that we need to look at what we’re doing right now, at this moment, and view it with a lens of seven generations from now.”

“We need to consider those not yet born who will inherit the world we leave behind. We must reflect on our actions with a wise and compassionate long view. How do we want future generations to live? What will they receive from our stewardship?” continued Rubalcava.

“We’re weaving this Haudenosaunee value into next year’s theme to embrace well-being and realize the holism of sustainability. How can the sustainable practices you already engage in be reframed? Ask yourself: What might they look like in 200 years? How do we listen to Indigenous ways of knowing to guide us? Will we create systemic changes with lasting power? That’s the imaginative vision we’re using going forward,” finished Rubalcava.

After the appropriate acknowledgments were given, we turned our attention to the luscious rope of vine suspended to mark the entrance of the garden grounds. Dr. Vigil and Estella Gutierrez, Vice President of Student Services and Diversity, would do the honors, and with scissors in hand, snipped the leafy twine to applause!

The youngest audience members – children from the E.L. Cord Foundation Child Care Center got their picture taken with Wizard and held out their tiny mitts to nestle and release ladybugs into their new oasis. Practically everyone in attendance had the opportunity to do so, too: a fitting end to cap off the celebration.

For more information on the Year of Sustainability, please contact the Equity, Inclusion and Sustainability Office.