Olympic College set to honor Mother Nature

Olympic College will go green starting Monday, hosting a series of events at each of its three campuses — Bremerton, Poulsbo and Shelton — to celebrate the school’s second annual Earth Day Week, organized by the Environmental Task Force of Olympic College and OC students.

All Earth Day Week events are free and open to the public and are designed to foster eco-friendly attitudes while encouraging residents of Kitsap County and the surrounding area to make environmentally conscience choices.

“Earth Day Week is an opportunity to engage with the environmental community,” Shelton campus director and Environmental Task Force convener Kim McNamara said of event, which runs through Thursday.

The weeklong series of activities at OC Bremerton include an environmental film festival, keynote speeches by environmentalists Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele, a student-organized community clean-up project and a community environmental agency fair.

“Last year we had similar events, and it worked pretty well,” McNamara said of the 2007 Earth Day Week. “We had good attendance at the keynote presentations.”

McNamara said Earth Day Week is part of OC’s ongoing effort to be a climate neutral campus, a goal officially launched when Olympic College President David Mitchell signed the American College & University Climate Control Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2006.

Acknowledging global warming as an imminent, real and potentially hazardous threat to the health, social, economic and environmental welfare of the world, Mitchell signed the Climate Control Commitment.

“Higher education’s role is to teach the future leaders,” McNamara cited as one reason the school joined ACUPCC.

“We’ve committed to teaching our students the concepts of sustainability and environmental awareness. We hope that when students graduate from our institution they will understand how their decisions impact the environment.”

Composed of Olympic College faculty, staff and students — non-exclusive and open to anybody serious about preserving Mother Nature — the Environmental Task Force began in January 2007, only a month after Mitchell signed the ACUPCC.

“We were ready,” McNamara explained. “The faculty wanted to do something so we said, ‘We’re going for it.’”

Earth Day Week is only one example of the school’s commitment to environmental awareness, ranging from the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to encouraging students to recycle, McNamara said.

“I think it’s Dr. Mitchell’s vision to take the lead or at least be a partner in coming up with sustainable solutions,” McNamara said. “He has the complete support of all the OC campuses.”

The Environmental Task Force works in and out of the classroom, promoting education for the environment.

“We’re working on environmental programming and curriculum,” she said. “It’s (Earth Day) is one activity in our commitment to helping the community and students find solutions.”

McNamara hopes Earth Day generates both excitement and awareness in and around the Bremerton community.

“We’ve definitely had visitors in the past,” she said of public involvement. “That’s (another) interest, encouraging our community.”

A student-organized community clean-up project sponsored by Hi-Lo’s 15th Street Cafe is one opportunity, McNamara said, for the public to participate in Earth Day Week.

“The students really wanted to do something,” McNamara said of the clean-up project, organized by members of the new “Environmental Club.”

“Our students stepped up,” she applauded.

In other city Earth Day events, the Kitsap Trees & Shoreline Association will be cleaning up the Bremerton waterfront starting at 11 a.m. today at the Bremerton Boardwalk at the end of 2nd Street.

1-800-GOT-JUNK is hosting a free, one-day, e-waste disposal from noon to 3 p.m. at the Kitsap Mall in Silverdale.

The city of Bremerton will sponsor 2008 Spring Clean-up throughout the week from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 100 Oyster Bay Ave. N.

Spring cleanup is an annual event held by the city of Bremerton Public Works & Utilities department. For one week, early Spring, Bremerton residents are invited to dispose of yard waste materials for free.

Any city of Bremerton resident interested in participating is reminded that nothing larger than a pick up truck load, or small trailer, of yard waste materials (limited to leaves, branches, brush and grass clippings) will be accepted.

The city reserves the right to reject any loads (cardboard, household garbage, contaminated loads, processed lumber, etc.). Any items over 8 feet in length with a diameter of 6 inches will NOT be accepted.

For more information about the event, please call the Public Works & Utilities Operations Center at (360) 473-5920.

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