For the first time next school year, Simpson College is offering an Earth Corps scholarship opportunity as a chance for students to take their passion for environmental awareness and help create a more sustainable earth through service projects.
Earth Corps is a scholarship program that was brought up to President John Byrd by Indianola mayor Jerry Kelley, as way to get students involved in helping to make the campus more sustainable.
Byrd and Kelley, along with Ryan Rehmeier, assistant professor of biology and the Environmental Awareness Club, will work together to educate people about how to live their lives sustainably.
Students who participate in Earth Corps will receive a grant of $12,000-15,000 a year in exchange for 10-15 hours of work related to the program each week. Earth Corp grants are offered as an alternative to other Simpson College scholarships and grants.
“Earth Corp is not in addition to other scholarships” Rehmeier said. “The positive thing is doing something for that scholarship money that you believe in and are passionate about.”
Earth Corps is working with Deb Tierney, vice president for enrollment to find specific students with this particular interest and bring to Simpson.
Current students interested in environmental awareness and reducing consumption will serve as mentors to those students in the program. They will use their time in the program as work study hours as they assist those in the program.
The goal of all these organizations is to reduce consumption both on Campus and in the community. Attempts have been made such as Trayless Tuesdays, motion detector lights in restrooms, replacing current toilets with low flow models, a new exhaust hood in the kitchen and a campus recycling project.
The Earth Corps program will debut at Simpson next year.
Freshmen will be able to apply and take part in this program while current students will serve as mentors for these students and for the projects they take part in.
The students chosen for Earth Corps will form a Liberal Arts Seminar next fall that will set up what the group’s mission will be and hopefully begin a program that involves hundreds of students.
Earth Corps is designed to get students out into the community and incorporate the environment into all curriculum areas.
According to Kelley, the first members of Earth Corps will have the job of incorporating the entire Simpson community.
“Students who take part in this program will learn leadership and guidance skills while taking ownership of their campus and surrounding community,” Rehmeier said.
Working side by side with Earth Corps, the school will work on meeting the coals of the Presidents Climate Commitment.
President Byrd has signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which pledges the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at colleges and universities. The goal of this commitment is to create a campus that makes sustainability a part of the curriculum, expands research, and initiates at least two tangible actions to reduce greenhouse gases, all while sticking to a plan to achieve climate neutrality.
Since Earth Corps is part of Simpson’s effort to go green, the students will begin doing specific projects in order to meet the campus goal of having 15 percent of energy come from alternative sources.
Kelley is hopeful that as the program evolves, more opportunities will come for students who are interested in environmental awareness.