On Saturday, April 18, volunteers from the Divine Word College community and their families donned reflective vests and equipped themselves with rakes, brooms and large trash bags – ready to pitch in for the annual Highway and Campus Cleanup Day sponsored by the DWC Sustainability Committee. Members of the committee are: Dr. J Russett, Mark Singsank, Professor Bang Lang Do, Tim Perlewitz, Marlene Decker, Adam Minh Pham and Committee Chair, Professor Chris Sauer.
Despite the threatening weather, students, SVDs and DWC staff divided into several groups, eager to begin. Some headed for the highway to clean up the roadsides while others set about raking and gathering up branches, leaves and debris on the campus grounds. And no job seemed too difficult for the tiny DWC Vietnamese Sisters, who wielded large rakes and carried big bundles of dead branches as they helped clean the campus grounds.
“Led by Marilyn Taylor, her son Seth, and organizer Mark Singsank, our band of workers covered about two miles of territory along Hwy 20, ridding the road boundaries of all kinds of winter debris,” says Fr. Bill Shea, SVD. “Our platoon of young, and not so young, warriors accomplished our task just before the heavens opened.” Taylor, associate professor of English at DWC, adds, “Our students and staff at Divine Word College are eager to make a difference, looking for ways to help care for the environment.”
Divine Word College works consistently toward its goal of becoming an environmentally responsible community. Last April, college staff and students attended a Sustainability Conference at Luther College. DWC has also hosted a presentation by the Dubuque Metropolitan Waste Agency and performed a campus waste audit, fostering awareness of proper waste disposal and implementing recycling guidelines for the college community. A shelter belt of trees on the west side of campus has been planted to save energy costs, energy-efficient window coverings were installed in the DWC library, and the college has purchased a hybrid vehicle. In addition, a bioswale has been constructed on campus grounds, reducing erosion and filtering run-off water.
In 2008, Divine Word College was awarded a $900 grant from the Branching Out program, creating a three-way partnership between Alliant Energy, Trees Forever and the college, as part of a community-based tree-planting project. With the money from the Alliant grant, six new birch and maple trees were purchased and planted. Thirty more trees, including sugar maple, white oak and Colorado spruce tree seedlings have also been planted on campus.
“I enjoyed being part of this year’s clean-up crew,” says Fr. Jim Bergin, SVD. “It was good to see how much we could accomplish with so many people working together.”
Sustainability is not just work, but fun, too!