Acting locally

Sustain Mizzou plans hands-on learning experiences for Earth Month.

Lakelen Murphy and Bella Kamplain sit at a table doing outreach for Sustain Mizzou
Lakelen Murphy (left) and Bella Kamplain conduct outreach for Sustain Mizzou on March 16. “We just want to get people interested all the ways they can help the planet,” says Roni Becherer, sustainability coordinator for Sustain Mizzou. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

By Theo Schwinke

This April is the inaugural Earth Month at Mizzou, full of activities and events to get students outdoors and thinking about sustainability.

“Earth Day is just once a year, but Earth is there for you all the time,” said Roni Becherer, sustainability coordinator with Sustain Mizzou. “We just want to get people interested all the ways they can help the planet.”

The programming begins April 10 with a garden work day in the MU Child Development Lab’s learning garden. “Aside from the fresh vegetables you get, gardening has so many health benefits,” Becherer said. “We’re going to be coaching people on how they can start gardens of their own and reap those benefits at home.”

Sustain Mizzou will collaborate with the Wellness Resource Center for two events: a yoga event April 12 and a meditation event April 19. “Yoga helps your flexibility and muscle strength. Meditation relieves stress and boosts creativity,” Becherer said. “Doing both outside, weather permitting, helps you connect with the Earth and reflect on our relationship with the planet.”

Other events include beehive checkups April 13 and 27 and shuttles to the Columbia Farmers Market April 16 and 23. “The Columbia Farmers Market was named the No. 1 ‘People’s Choice’ farmers market in the nation last year,” Becherer said. “We want people to know what a fantastic resource it is and to better understand the local food economy.”

Mizzou Earth Month 2022 Activities 

  • Garden work days, 2–4 p.m. April 10 and 24, MU Child Development Lab Children’s Garden
  • Yoga, 4–5 p.m. April 12, Peace Park
  • Beehive checkups, 6 p.m. April 13 and 27, Eckles Butterfly Garden
  • Columbia Farmers Market trips, 9 a.m.–noon, April 16 and 23, Columbia Farmers Market
  • Orienteering, 2:30–6:30 p.m., April 18, Rock Bridge State Park
  • Meditation, 4:30–5 p.m., April 19, Peace Park
  • Columbia Earth Day Festival, noon–7 p.m., April 24

All Earth Month events are organized by Sustain Mizzou, which promotes a sustainable way of life at the University of Missouri through education, cooperation and local action.

“We’re 100% funded by the sustainability fee, which is less than 1% of the student activity fee,” Becherer said. “It’s a tiny amount per student but it turns out to be a significant budget for all we’re trying to do.”

Sustain Mizzou is one heir to the former MU Office of Sustainability. Sustain Mizzou handles programming and education initiatives, while MU Operations inherited Sustainability’s behind-the-scenes work. “They’re in charge of recycling and renewable energy at Mizzou as well as maintaining our Bee Campus and Tree Campus certificates, and the Climate Action Plan, among other things,” Becherer said.

“Sustain Mizzou is all about education and service,” Becherer said. “It’s also a fantastic leadership opportunity, where students can see what they can make happen.”

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