Bethany College celebrates Earth Day, David Van Tassel of The Land Institute to give keynote address

LINDSBORG, KAN., April 10, 2012—Bethany College celebrates Earth Day on April 23 with workshops and an address by keynote speaker David Van Tassel, Ph.D., from the The Land Institute in Salina, Kan.

All events are free and open to the public.

The day’s special activities begin at 10:30 a.m. with an Earth Day Chapel service led by Campus Pastor Noni Strand held outdoors between Alma Swensson Hall and Messiah Lutheran Church.

At 11 a.m. in Lindquist Hall, David Van Tassel will give the the keynote address, “If you love something don’t set it free; the case for saving the wild by taming it.” Van Tassel discusses how the entire planet will soon be tamed into a “planetary farm” and species of wild plants and animals should be preserved before it’s too late. He will discuss this “taming of the wild” and the work at The Land Institute and other similar efforts.

Van Tassel has worked at the The Land Institute since 1997. His top prioirty is breeding perennial oilseeds using wide-hybridization and domesticationmethods on native perennial species in the sunflower family. He is also developing germplasm and breeding populations of other perennial species, including Illinois bundleflower, which could be candidates for domestication in the future. Van Tassel holds a doctorate degree in plant biology from the University of California, Davis.

At noon, the Green Team meets in the AAL Room. The Green Team includes members from the entire Bethany community, on and off campus, who commit to and live out of Bethany’s institutional core value and Missional Direction of Excellece of sustainability. Activities and events include recycling, the community garden, energy audits, education and information, and reviewing project proposals for Bethany’s Green Revolving Fund (the fund is explained at a workshop at 2 p.m.

At 1 p.m., the first session of concurrent workshops begins. In Lindquist Hall, Van Tassel continues the conversation from his keynote address and presents “Are Food Cults, Eco-Evangelists, Green Idolatry, and Envirofundamentalism the signs of the rebirth or degeneration of the environmental movement?”

Student Sarah Bennett also presents the harmfulness of plastic bottle waste in “Water Bottle Awareness” in the AAL Room, and you can paint your own flower pot with Jessica Schierling and Sue Peterson of Bethany’s Office of Career Services in lower-level Pihlblad Memorial Union.

At 2 p.m., the second session of workshops begins. Flower pot painting continues in the Union, and students Shelby Brown and Taci Richard announce Bethany’s new Bike Share program outside of Wallerstedt Learning Center. Using bicycles donated from the community, students are provided an eco-friendly way of traveling around campus and Lindsborg.

In Nelson Science Center room 116, students Lauren Von Klinggreaff and March Erb will discuss the student-directed living classroom, Nelson 116, that promotes and models sustainable community.

In Lindquist Hall, Vice President of Finance and Operations Bob Schmoll will discuss Bethany College’s Green Revolving Fund, part of the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, which invests money in projects that improve efficiency and decrease resource use, thereby reducing both operating expenses and greenhouse gas emissions. Bethany joined the Founding Circle if the project last October along with 32 other leading institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, and Arizona State.

The day ends with a work day at 3 p.m. in the Community Garden, located on North Kansas Street, north of Anderson Stadium and across from the Bethany softball field. The Community Garden was first planted on May 3, 2009, to tie the college and community together. Through the processes of fellowship and shared work, participants learn about growing local food and living sustainably. The garden is dedicated to Ken Branch, a Lindsborg resident and 1959 Bethany graduate who has taught anthropology at Bethany. In the past three years, the garden has produced vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the Web at www.bethanylb.edu/.

Caption: David Van Tassel

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