Media Advisory: Earth Day Story Ideas from Wake Forest University

Earth Day is honored around the world on April 22 and this year marks the 45th anniversary of the effort to put environmental concerns front and center. Wake Forest University will hold several related events and offers great examples of sustainability in action. Wake Forest’s Director of Sustainability is available to comment on Earth Day.


Ecotones of the Spirit: A Gathering on Contemplative Ecology, Tuesday, April 14 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Scales Fine Arts Center, Brendle Recital Hall). The guiding metaphor for this spring’s speaker and event series is the ecotone, a transition zone between two ecosystems. An ecotone is not so much a place as it is a heightened transfer of energy between two distinct entities for those concerned with issues like food justice, sustainable agriculture, or climate change. Come and learn more about it at this event, sponsored by the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at the School of Divinity.

Free and open to the public, speakers include: Gary Paul Nabhan, an internationally-celebrated nature writer, food and farming activist, and pioneer in the local food movement; Dr. Douglas Christie, author of The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes on a Contemplative Ecology; Leah Kostamo, author of Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling, and Community, and Dr. Tyson-Lord J. Gray, religious scholar and an environmental activist. The full schedule and biographies of the speakers are available here.

Campus Beautification Day and tree planting (not open to public), Thursday, April 16 from 4 p.m to 6 p.m. (Reynolda Campus, Huffman Residence Hall) Celebrate WFU Campus Beautification Day with Greeks Go Green, WFU Residence Life & Housing, and Landscaping Services. The event kicks off with a tree planting ceremony behind Huffman Residence Hall at 4 p.m. Following the ceremony, volunteers will split into groups to complete tasks to beautify the campus.

2015 WFU Earth Day Fair (not open to public), Wednesday, April 22 at 3 p.m. Sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, the celebration will begin in the Reynolda Hall Main Lounge at 3 p.m. with the second annual Champions of Change awards ceremony. Immediately following the awards program, the fair will kick-off on Manchester Plaza with live music, entertainment, food and activities.

Expert available – Dedee DeLongpré Johnston has more than 20 years of expertise in education, sustainability and environmental issues – the culmination of longtime personal and professional passions. As Wake Forest’s first Director of Sustainability, she works with student, faculty and community leaders to develop strategic initiatives for integrating sustainability into university programs, from teaching and research to public service and campus operations.

Sustainability-related initiatives:

Agrobiodiversity at Wake Forest – The landscaping team selected pawpaw and persimmon trees to plant as part of a cultural heritage edible landscaping pilot. The trees are well suited to the campus landscape, decreasing maintenance needs and increasing resilience. To celebrate the plantings, campus dining services featured traditional pawpaw and persimmon desserts at the fall campus heritage dinner.

Heirloom varieties in the campus garden – The campus’ working garden provides faculty and students the opportunity to investigate assumptions and theories about small-scale agricultural production from cultural and scientific perspectives. Heirloom varieties of okra, greens, and garlic are distributed to campus partners by way of meals prepared and delivered by Campus Kitchen volunteers. The campus’ historic formal gardens also hosted a celebratory planting of two new Southern heirloom apple trees, reflecting complementary opportunities for continued campus-community engagement.

Locally-sourced food in dining program – Dining Services is a committed partner in the development of a local food presence in its programs and works with vendors to source items locally whenever possible.  Some of these local vendors include Grayson All Natural Beef, Smithfield Pork and Pet Dairy (all milk on campus is produced within North Carolina and is always hormone free).

Animal welfare – Dining Services has also partnered with Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization, to advance its commitment to responsible purchasing and operating practices. They have taken a number of actions to improve animal welfare in conjunction with HSUS – including sourcing cage-free eggs this year and purchasing only gestation crate-free pork by 2017.

Composting – Dining services also collects pre-consumer waste at the Fresh Food Company and Hilltop Market, as well as post-consumer waste collection at the Hilltop Market. This waste is collected and used by Winston-Salem-based Gallins Foods to make their Carolina Gold Compost.

Categories: Events, Media Advisory, Student, Sustainability