Contributed by Taylor Kraabel, Office of Sustainability Intern
Although the idea of working in an arboretum never occurred to Morgan Beadles, today she could not imagine working anywhere else. Before becoming the Director of Donald E. Davis Arboretum, Morgan worked for the university as a student and graduated with her masters in Landscape Architecture in 2007. She was then employed in the private sector until 2016 when she returned to Auburn and accepted the arboretum position. During that time, professors encouraged her to consider a career with the arboretum and she credits them for her involvement. This summer, Beadles will mark her third year as director.
As its namesake suggests, Donald E. Davis had the vision for Auburn’s arboretum. He planned to have the land acquired for conservation use and by 1963, his dream was a reality. Around that same time, the Universities of Alabama and Tennessee also acquired their own arboretums. Because of this, the Donald E. Davis Arboretum, as well as these other arboreta, are some of the oldest in the SEC.
For those that have never been to an arboretum, Beadles says one should expect of course, trees, but also a myriad of other natural elements. Beadles says the arboretum contains a diverse collection of native plants including cultivars of native plants which can be more conducive to a manicured home landscape. The arboretum also provides multiple self-guided tours, such as the stormwater management tour.
The Donald E. Davis Arboretum emphasizes environmental conservation and is the home of the Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance, an organization whose goal is to conserve rare and endangered regional plant species. The arboretum also encourages the presence of natural pollinators to further enhance the environment. The stormwater system demonstrates how to clean up stream areas and promote wildlife such as native fishes and crayfish. Beadles says they also place great emphasis on educating the public on their local environment.
When asked to identify the most sustainable aspect of the Arboretum, Beadle could not pinpoint any one thing. The Arboretum itself is a demonstration of sustainability. There is water harvesting, native plants, stormwater maintenance, pervious pavements, and much more. The area also provides habitats for native animals.
For anyone who wishes to get involved with the arboretum, Beadles says simply come by. She says she and her staff are always looking for volunteers. People can also become a Friend of the Arboretum by donating to keep the arboretum beautiful.
Beadles says she believes the arboretum to be one of the most utilized resources on campus, second only to the library. It’s visited by a diversity of university classes, community educational groups, and students looking for a quiet respite. Whether for an event, such as the annual Sustainability Picnic, or simply to enjoy the peace and quiet, the arboretum welcomes you to experience this beautiful resource right in the heart of campus. Visit the Donald E. Davis Arboretum on Instagram for inspiration!
Post contributed by Becky Barlow, Forestry Extension Specialist, Alabama Cooperative Extension System & Professor, Auburn University School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences
Occasionally I meet people and the conversation goes something like this
Other Person: “So what to do you?”
Me: “I work as a Forestry Extension Specialist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.”
Other Person: “Cooperative Extension? What is that?”
Me: “My job is to teach landowners, professionals and the general public about forestry land management, and to help them with forestry-related questions they might have. Were you ever in 4-H? Or have you heard of 4-H?”
Other Person: “Oh yeah! I was in the one with the chickens when I was a kid, it was so much fun!”
Me: “4-H is the youth part of Cooperative Extension. So, I am a bit like the adult version of 4-H for forestry and natural resources!”
Extension and Outreach make up one of the three land-grant university missions. For Auburn University, Alabama A&M, and Tuskegee University this mission is fulfilled largely by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES). ACES provides research-based educational information and programs for everyone across Alabama in the areas of agriculture; economic and community development; family and consumer sciences; forestry, wildlife, and natural resources; 4-H and youth development; and urban affairs. You can find out more about ACES online at www.aces.edu.
There is an ACES office in each county. In these offices, there are County Extension Agents who coordinate office staff and activities. These agents may have specialties like livestock management, horticulture and home grounds, forestry and wildlife, family and consumer sciences, etc. There are other agents also located in these offices with differing specialties. They serve the county in which they are housed and a set of about 7-12 counties in the surrounding area. These are called Regional Extension Agents. For forestry, wildlife and natural resources we have 7 Regional Extension Agents located across the state. These professionals organize workshops, develop publications and newsletters, videos, and answer questions about forestry and wildlife issues in their region of Alabama. These services are provided at low to no cost to the public. To find the Regional Extension Agent who works in your area check out the ACES directory at https://ssl.acesag.auburn.edu/directory-new/.
Extension Specialists (like me) may also work in any of the professional areas listed above, but they often are housed at Alabama A&M or Auburn University and are affiliated with a university college or department. Specialists work closely with Regional Extension Agents to conduct workshops and write extension publications. They also answer questions from the public. There are six Forestry and Wildlife ACES Extension Specialists housed within Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. Their specialties include things like forestry, wildlife, invasive species management, timber harvesting. Contact information for ACES Extension Specialists and staff that are housed within Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences can be found at this link https://sfws.auburn.edu/extension-faculty/.
When it comes for forestry, wildlife and natural resource information there are other groups that ACES professionals sometimes partner with to help landowners meet their land management goals. Some of these groups include state agencies, private consulting foresters, and arborists.
State agencies employees work for a public agency such as ACES, but there are other state agencies that can also help you with your land management decisions. These include the Alabama Forestry Commission (http://www.forestry.state.al.us/ ), Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (https://www.outdooralabama.com/ ), and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/al/home/ ). These agency employees provide services at no charge or reduced rate for things such as 1) timber tract assessment, 2) insect and disease assessments, 3) management plan development, 4) prescribed fire plans, 5) wildlife management and habitat development, and 6) can help landowners find contractors or consulting foresters to carry out management activities.
Private consulting foresters assist landowners for a fee and provide services such as 1) timber tract assessment, 2) management plan development, 3) timber sales, 4) American Tree Farm System certification, and 5) contractor location assistance. These individuals represent the landowner in all efforts and work to help them achieve land management goals. Some states require that they be registered with a State Registration Board. Alabama has this requirement. More information about Alabama’s Registered Forester program can be found at this link http://www.asbrf.alabama.gov/.
Finally, homeowners and landowners may need individual tree removal or assessment assistance. In this case, an arborist is needed. To find a certified arborist who can help you make decisions about the health and maintenance of trees around your home or other buildings visit http://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist.
If often takes a team of professionals to help landowners and homeowners answer their forestry, wildlife, or other natural resource questions. Any of the groups highlighted in this article will be ready and willing to help when you need them. And, if they are not able to assist you directly, they will help you find the right professional for your needs.
Post contributed by Dr. Wendy Vidor, Lecturer, Department of Horticulture
My fondest childhood memory is connected to a tree, a common silver maple (Acer saccharinum). With its shimmery silver white leaves, smooth, and somewhat flaky bark, and helicopter double samaras. It was my connection to the earth and the world around me. I guess you could say that this tree had influenced my path in life to become a horticulturist.
The tree was my sanctuary and solace. I would climb its many limbed branches to reach the top of the world. I would sit in that tree for it seemed hours just listening to nature and observing the world around me.
Trees are beautiful and majestic, provide aesthetic beauty with their endless variety of forms, textures and shapes and provide vibrant colors as they change through the seasons. They have history and they are living memorials. They provide emotional attachments and create memories and bonds of our childhood.
Trees also provide ecological and environmental value to our landscapes. Here are some of the benefits trees provide:
Energy conservation “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30%” according to the USDA Forest Service.
Increased economic value to our homes and businesses.
Moderation of temperature by reducing the heat island effect in cities by deflecting the sunlight off pavement and commercial buildings.
They capture pollutants and dust, protect us from wind and rain, and lower the temperature.
Why does it seem that we have lost our connection to the trees? In today’s society we have noticed that people are developing “plant blindness.” We have become disconnected from nature and no longer look at the intricacies of plants and trees as part of the landscape. We walk through our campus every day without noticing the beauty surrounding us.
Auburn University’s campus is filled with trees that are magnificent specimens of nature. There is the famous “Toomers Oak” (Quercus virginiana) that we roll each year to celebrate victories, and also very rare specimens like the Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood), which was once thought to be extinct. This tree has been on the earth for over 50 million years. Seeds of this tree were bought back from China where it was discovered growing in the wild in the town of Modaoqi, China in 1941 by Chinese forester, T. Kan. Seed collected from the original site were made available to several arboretums and campuses around the country including Auburn’s Donald E. Davis arboretum, the Missouri Botanical Garden and other gardens and horticulture departments across the country. We have the magnificent Donald E. Davis Arboretum with over 39 Oak specimens and other tree and shrub collections on our campus. Another tree of note is the “Founders Oak” Quercus stellata which is also labeled in the Arboretum. Additionally, we have thousands of other trees and shrubs planted around campus that have been collected and planted for all to enjoy.
The history and uniqueness of Auburn’s campus is a tribute to the many trees planted and protected by our Tree Preservation Committee. These trees add another layer to the history and beauty of Auburn University. Take a moment to pause, reflect, and reconnect under these magnificent wonders of nature.
Post adapted from post contributed by Matthew Preisser, Former Office of Sustainability Intern
The annual Green Game at Auburn University is set to kick off on September 14th as the Auburn Tigers prepare to face off against Kent State. The Green Game is an opportunity to celebrate the sustainability-related initiatives of the Athletics department, while encouraging fans to also participate in making Gamedays greener.
During the 2018 season, tailgaters recycled around 27 tons of material. However, our all-time high was achieved in 2013 with 41 tons being recycled. Numerous collaborators around campus, including Auburn’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Department and the Office of Sustainability, hope that with your help this season we can beat that record! Let’s make Auburn the #1 recycler in the SEC!!
By recycling cardboard, plastic, and aluminum cans, fans can do their part to conserve resources and help keep the Loveliest Village on The Plains clean. Volunteers pass out recycling bags each week before the game, along with the hundreds of additional recycling locations set up in and outside of the stadium, so Tiger fans can easily recycle while on campus.
This upcoming Green Game will feature the “Trash Talkers” for the third year. Trained and dedicated Trash Talkers will be located at numerous recycling stations just outside and within the stadium during the first half of the game to inform guests on what and where items can be recycled.
Fans can eliminate waste and support Auburn Athletics, the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department, and the Office of Sustainability’s effort to make Gamedays more sustainable through a few simple actions:
Swap disposable tailgate supplies for items that can be reused, such as tableware, cloth napkins, and tablecloths.
Choose plastic and aluminum over glass and Styrofoam.
Recycle all plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
Bring a clear, reusable water bottle to the game and use the water refill stations to fill it up.
Clean up tailgate areas after the game.
Currently, we are accepting volunteers to be Trash Talkers for the Green Game. The Office of Sustainability will provide T-Shirts, food before the game, entrance into the stadium, and a chance to win a Gus Malzahn signed football. Volunteers will be trained and expected to work through halftime. To sign up, please register by completing our Green Game Volunteer Formby Sunday, September 8th at 11:59 PM.
Contributed by Taylor Kraabel, Office of Sustainability Intern
Dr. Nanette Chadwick wears many hats at Auburn University. As the Director of Academic Sustainability Programs (ASP), she has been an integral part of Auburn sustainability for the past eight years. In addition to this role, Chadwick has also spent 30 years conducting research in marine biology and ecology. Due to her experience and expertise in this field, she also teaches several classes, both undergraduate and graduate, on these topics.
Getting Involved with Academic Sustainability Programs
Chadwick says ASP can be broken down into three main areas: curriculum, research, and coordination with other campus units. The first main area, curriculum, includes faculty development and enhancement of sustainability content in courses throughout the university and supervising the Minor in Sustainability Studies. Every other year, Chadwick leads a training program for faculty who wish to incorporate sustainability topics into their classes. At the end of the training, participants may earn a monetary award by successfully aligning their course material to sustainability. Another area or ASP work includes sustainability research. Chadwick conducts an inventory of all the sustainability research currently happening at Auburn to encourage collaboration between faculty and departments. On top of all of this, Chadwick coordinates with other sustainability-related programs, student groups, and facilities around campus to help strength sustainability in Auburn’s academic offerings.
Even before becoming the Director of ASP, the presence of sustainability in Chadwick’s life was evident. Her primary professional experience with sustainability consists of her coral reef research. For the past 30 years, Chadwick has been at the forefront of coral reef research and conservation. She has worked with the Catalina Island Marine Institute to expose younger generations to the oceanic environment and help them foster a love for this unique habitat. She has also been involved with The School for Field Studies in the Caribbean and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel where she has taught students about conservation issues, and the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Research where she has conducted much of her research. This passion for the environment opened the door for Chadwick to be exposed to the other topics and complexities of sustainability.
The future of ASP at Auburn is bright as Chadwick is always thinking of new ways to expand the program. Due to the popularity of the Introduction to Sustainability course, Chadwick has recently hired a full-time sustainability instructor. She anticipates that a second instructor may be needed in the near future as well, given sustainability is becoming increasingly prominent in today’s society and among Auburn students. As of now, several majors offered at Auburn actually require Introduction to Sustainability as part of their curriculum, a step Chadwick hopes other colleges will also take. The presence of sustainability in Auburn academics and its expansion directly reflect the efforts of Chadwick and ASP.
Sustainability Challenges and Inspiring Initivates
While there are countless sustainability challenges, two stand out in Chadwick’s mind – climate change and human population growth. Perhaps the most pressing issue is climate change, which is Chadwick’s main concern in part because it is causing a major decline of coral reefs. Chadwick says that one of the reasons more is not being done to combat climate change is the long lag time between our emissions and their effects. It is often difficult for people to see that link, thus posing the question: “Can we respond to this crisis in time?”
Another sustainability obstacle is the growing human population. Under current conditions, Chadwick states that the natural world simply cannot support the number of humans that are projected to be inhabiting it. She says the best way to combat this issue is providing education and career opportunities for women. Studies have discovered that the number of children women have is linked to their education level and/or occupation, with more educated women choosing to have fewer children. Fortunately, progressive global movements have encouraged this shift, a promising sign that this issue is resolvable.
In and around Auburn, much is being done to make our community and campus more sustainable; however, the dining program is Chadwick’s personal favorite. Tiger Dining uses a great deal of local food, with a goal to have at least 20% of it coming from our region. They are also involved in reducing food waste by collaborating with the Campus Kitchens Project, which donates leftover food to those in need. Tiger Dining has also banned the use of styrofoam within campus dining operations, opting for recyclable and compostable options instead. Chadwick says that fostering programs such as these is what puts Auburn at the forefront of sustainability in higher education.
Contributed by Kaitlyn Baker, ASI Divemaster, Auburn University Alumna ‘18
SCUBA diving is an amazing opportunity to discover the world below sea level. With the ocean covering the majority of the earth, there is so much to explore. Ocean life dates to the beginning of time. Diverse plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates ensure beautiful dives all over the globe. Divers get a front row seat to the amazing underwater world. With that, we also see firsthand the effects of global climate change. By being knowledgeable divers, we can have an impact on the world around us.
Coral reefs are the second most biodiverse ecosystem behind tropical rain forests. Reefs are an intertwined environment where each small factor plays a role in keeping the equilibrium and system functioning. So many people live near the coast and rely on this ecosystem to sustain life. Ecotourism in these areas is growing. Most divers love the travel that comes along with diving. Considering travel arrangements that have a lower footprint will be beneficial to both divers and locals.
Just like divers can observe the effects of climate change, we can also contribute to the damage if we aren’t safe and careful. It is important to remember we are in an environment that is not our own and to treat it with respect. Never dive too close to a reef to ensure you don’t kick the coral with your fins or a piece of gear does not come in contact with the reef. Spearfishing is popular among recreational divers. Fishers should be knowledgeable about limits and seasons. Spearfishing can be very beneficial to reefs with the removal of invasive species, such as lionfish in the Atlantic.
Choose a dive operation that is knowledgeable about the local environment and uses sustainable diving practices. An old phrase, “take only pictures, leave only bubbles” is how we want to dive. Divers are ambassadors for the underwater world who can influence others but leave our dive sites exactly how we found them.
Want to learn more? Auburn Alabama’s local dive center is Adventure Sports SCUBA, Inc. SCUBA courses are offered year-round for those wanting to learn how to dive.
Auburn University students may also take the SCUBA diving course (PHED 1760) and earn university credit. The Auburn University Marine Biology Club is another great way to get involved and learn more with others who have a passion for the seas.
Contributed by Brittany Branyon, Program Coordinator, Cary Center Nonprofit Affiliate Program
Have you ever heard of collaborative capitalism? Perhaps you’ve heard of social impact investing? Even if you don’t know it by name, surely the concept is familiar.
Social impact investing regards investments made into an organization intended to generate a measurable social or environmental impact in addition to financial return.
Ah yes, there’s the lightbulb!
Social impact investing has gained even more traction recently as millennials have entered the workforce and begun to find ways to contribute to causes they are passionate about. Many have found that they can make an impact while earning a return.
Maybe you’ve read about microloans, specifically in regard to female business owners or farmers in third world countries. This is a form of social impact investing on a smaller scale (hence, micro). Given the success we’ve seen with these programs, one can see how this concept can be productive in our community.
Social impact investing is an efficient way to fund causes and organizations at the grassroots level and beyond, allowing potential donors to contribute more and nonprofits to further their reach.
On Monday, April 8th, the Women’s Philanthropy Board is hosting their annual Spring Symposium at the Auburn Hotel and Conference Center where Teri Lovelace of LOCUS Impact Investing, an expert in this subject, will be speaking in Symposium Session II at 11:00 am.
Ms. Lovelace has over 27 years in the philanthropic, mission investing and the nonprofit sector and is Chief Impact Officer & Senior Vice President for Virginia Community Capital (VCC) and President of VCC’s new social enterprise – LOCUS Impact Investing.
In addition to the session, Ms. Lovelace will join Greg Doepke of Aspire to give in the afternoon for a forum discussion. This is the perfect opportunity to ask questions and offer input.
The forum, titled “How Social Impact Investing Can Build Prosperous and Vibrant Communities” is an event you certainly don’t want to miss. It begins at 2:00 pm on Monday at the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center, and like the morning session, is a free event.
Contributed by Dom Linehan, Junior in Natural Resources Management
When I was growing up, my parents had this proverb that they used to tell me. They said it to me when I did something without thinking that led to trouble. It went something like this:
People often think about what it would be like to go back in time, but they always worry that some small action will change the course of history forever. People rarely think that a small action in their everyday life will change the future. Whether you like it or not, your choices have an impact on the world, so act carefully.
I have always thought that this was interesting, and I have thought about it a whole lot. But it wasn’t until I went to Fiji and New Zealand that I really saw how true this is. While I don’t know what effects my choices may have, I do know that they will have some impact, even if it is a very small one. Everything we do has some consequence, and some have much bigger impacts than we would ever think.
On the island of Vorovoro, there is not much waste produced. Hardly anything that is used there creates trash. Yet on the south side of the island, there is a shore known as ‘Trash Beach’. It is full of plastic bottles, shoes, food wrappers and much more. All of it comes from people on a completely different island. That small action of throwing a candy wrapper on the ground affects a whole community of people, as well as polluting the ocean and creating problems for all kinds of sea creatures. While we have taken great strides in our effort to reduce our impact as humans on the natural world, the effects of human actions can be found all over. I witnessed many of these during my time in Fiji and New Zealand.
On our first day as a group in New Zealand, we went on a wildlife tour of the Otago Peninsula on the southeastern shore of the South Island. The peninsula is home to many rare species, including the Hooker Sea Lion, which are native to New Zealand. Unfortunately, these beautiful animals were nearly wiped out from this island due to overhunting. The sea lions were forced to relocate to nearby smaller islands. The repercussions of these killings are still seen today, as the number of the sea lions is still low. But the species has started to make a comeback recently. Hooker Sea Lions can be found on the beaches of southern New Zealand once again. The killing of these sea lions is similar to what Aldo Leopold said in his essay Thinking Like a Mountain. “In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf.” It was unheard of to pass up killing a sea lion. Well, the days of killing sea lions is over, and we are finally starting to think like a mountain and starting to see the big picture. This way of thinking is something that, from what I saw, was highly valued in New Zealand. And that is a mindset that needs to be more valued everywhere in the world.
Later on in our trip, we visited the Tasman Glacier in Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park. It is the largest glacier in New Zealand, and it is disappearing very quickly. In our lifetime, it is likely that this glacier will no longer exist. It is shrinking rapidly, much like the glaciers captured in the movie Chasing Ice. Issues such as the disappearing glaciers need to be given more attention. The reducing size of these glaciers is driven by manmade climate change, which is something we can all help to prevent. Producing less waste, recycling, driving less, and being more conscious of the impact our choices make are just a few ways that we can start to help protect these glaciers before it is too late. But glaciers are not the only natural wonder that are disappearing. As I saw firsthand in Fiji, coral reefs are dying as well.
Just to the north of Vorovoro Island is one of the largest coral reefs in the world. It is home to many types of fish, sharks, turtles, and other sea life. It is spectacularly beautiful. But like many other places around the world, as we learned in the movie Chasing Coral, this reef is dying. The corals are turning grey and bleaching, and they are altogether unhealthy looking.
Fortunately, in the cooler water there are still some living corals here, and with any luck they will survive for many years to come. Combatting this dying reef is a pressing matter for many people. The reef is where fish live, and fish are the livelihood of many people all around the world, including Fiji. And like most of the problems facing the natural world, there are things that can be done to slow down the bleaching process. Using reef-friendly products that do not cause damage to corals is a simple and easy way that we can all help to reduce local bleaching and dying of the coral reefs where we are.
While visiting an organic farm in Fiji, we learned a little bit about the bee population there. Bee keeping is a growing industry in Fiji, and one that is creating jobs as well as strengthening the ecosystem there. Along with producing honey as another product for farmers, they also pollinate many other crops and helps them to grow better. This is something that the U.S. is doing as well. Bees create a healthier ecosystem for everything living in it. Although, in Fiji, the bee population is much healthier than in the United States.
Having healthy bees is important for many reasons, and we would not be able to survive without them. Restoring the bee population in the United States is something that should be high on our priority list.
While it may be convenient to grab a bottle of water at the gas station for the drive home or to snack on granola bars, it is important to think about what consequences consuming those products may have. A small plastic bag could mean death for an endangered sea turtle. Driving yourself to class instead of taking the bus is simply adding to the pollution that drives global climate change and destroying habitats. Whether we realize it or not, our actions are causing things to happen in this world. This can be hard to see in Auburn, but it became abundantly clear to me during my time in Fiji and New Zealand. Sure, it is not totally realistic to live one hundred percent waste free, but we can at least think about how we are impacting the world and the people and creatures that live in it and try to do better. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to creating a solution. So please, before you act, just stop and think.