Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bonner Scholars Great Asset to CEC

Non-profit organizations have the wonderful perk of working with great people who are willing to give of their time and talents to make your organization a better place! These are volunteers! Cope Environmental Center has the privilege of working with Bonner Students from Earlham College. This program allows us to grow very close to our Bonner Students during their four years. We have been blessed with several students who have spent all four of their years here at CEC.

Unfortunately for us, college students graduate and move on. We are so proud of all our students. They have all been a tremendous asset to Cope Environmental Center and have completed thousands of hours of service and projects! Please read the comments to this post to learn more about each one of our graduating Bonners and what they completed and learned during their time at Cope Environmental Center.


  1. Agreed! Thank you to all of our hard working volunteers and Bonner Scholars. You will be missed!

  2. Cope Environmental Center has been a constant presence in my life during my four years at Earlham College. My first encounter with the center was sleeping in the yard after Earlham’s pre-orientation August wilderness course. Within the first few weeks of school I decided that I wanted to do my Bonner service at CEC, and have worked there ever since. My freshman year of college I spent the majority of the time uncovering all that CEC does. I was amazed (and still am) at the amount of projects they run with such a small staff, and the friendly atmosphere I always felt. My second year of college I came back to CEC for another round of Bonner service, and started tramping around the property with a diameter tape and a notebook in order to update Jim Cope’s tree records. I felt like I was on a treasure hunt for trees. I have been working on these tree records ever since in an attempt to create an informational packet about CEC’s tree collection. Whether helping with activities during field trips, trail maintenance, invasive removal, researching alternative energies, or updating tree records, I always look forward to going out to CEC for a few hours. I realize that my college experience would have been much different (most likely worse) without CEC. CEC has taught me many hard skills which will help me in my post-college life, as well as a connection to land in Wayne County, and optimism for the future.

  3. I've never been much of an environmental person. As a kid I loved getting covered in mud and bringing it all in to the living room with me, but if you asked me a few years ago if I would find myself a Senior who spent all his years volunteering at Cope I would probably laugh at you.

    But that's just what happened. The people at Cope are just WAY too nice to leave behind! Year after year I found myself coming back to Cope to volunteer. From mulching the trails, to helping a little bit on the demo house and the gray water system's earlier planning, to just being there to do random work that needed to be done. I've even gotten used to holding snakes, something I was once deathly afraid of!

    This last year I have spent most of my time working with fellow Bonner Matt L. on invasive plant removal, mostly honeysuckle. We are currently putting together a packet of information on invasive species removal that will remain at Cope for later volunteers who decide to undertake the project. We have also continued to chop and split wood for both the administrative building and for maple syrup programs.

    The years spent working at Cope have been amazing. As I said, the staff are just way too much fun to ever get tired of, and they are truly care about each and every volunteer. I'm looking forward to my last few months working at Cope, and hope to remain in contact with them all once I graduate this Spring!

    There, I posted Alison! You happy?! :)

  4. Well, I'm not graduating, but I do love working at Cope! This semester I am studying abroad in Mexico, and it has been amazing to see the same spirit of environmentalism and community that fuel CEC alive and well south of the boarder! A few highlights:

    * In San Antonio Huitepec, a village in Oaxaca that sends a lot of migrants to Richmond, there is an innovative high school that integrates community service with Sr Capstone projects. Recent service-learning projects include making trash cans out of empty bottles to be used in nearby villages, researching and building a more efficient wood stove that can be implemented by local families, and learning to make and use organic, local fertilizers.

    *A grassroots recycling program in Cuernavaca, which, like other Mexican cities, does not have government run recycling programs. This program started 5 years ago, and in that time has grown from one site to 12!

    *A related program in Cuernavaca working to clean up a river that is filled with black water from nearby houses, and is a health risk for the neighborhood.

    *In Oaxaca, rural organizations working farmer to farmer to spread best practices to prevent erosion and to prevent reliance on multinational agro-industrial companies.

    There is so much work to be done, but it is so good to see people and organizations that are working to make a difference! Just like Cope. : D

    I was also amazing in San Antonio Huitepec to see a relationship with the earth that is so much deeper than what I am used to. Pre-conquest beliefs are still alive and well, including the practice of pouring the first sips of your Tequila on the ground before drinking to acknowledge the role of the land in giving you life. I am learning some completely different ways of thinking, and I can't wait for the challenge of integrating them into my life back in the states.

    Miss you all, por favor hug some Indiana trees for me! : )

  5. It has taken me too long to mention how great my experience at the CEC has been. I spent all four years of college volunteering at the CEC through Bonner and without fail working there was satisfying, educational, and fun. From the very beginning I was given a seemingly simple task: designing and installing a graywater system for the sldh. Four years later, thanks to the hurdles of state bureaucracy, it is still not complete, but I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to dive into something of which I knew nothing. Now, staying for a while in phoenix arizona, I use with great contentment a laundry graywater system I built at my brother's house; and his friends are interested in their own. The people at Cope are not only friendly but take the opinions of their volunteers seriously and somehow manage to have time to hang out and talk despite the unbelievable quantity of projects they take on.

    Living at the sldh for one summer opened my eyes to the beauty and vitality of indiana despite its sometimes desolate corn-encrusted appearance. Watching a snapping turtle lay eggs in the backyard, the flights of bats, and the growth of wild trees on what was once degraded farmland, continues to inspire me.

    Thanks again to all of you. I look forward to hanging out again some Indiana summer day.


  6. Erick and Meg - we miss you!!! Thank you for posting.

  7. So great to hear about your experiences with us. Erick, we found a YouTube video of you and Jeremy the other day. So fun to watch you in action! Meg, we're thrilled that you haven't left us yet! Sounds like you're having a great experience in Mexico. We can't wait to see you in the fall. Cheers to both of you! We miss seeing you!

  8. My Bonner experience (in the beginning, anyway) was mainly a lot of trying to find the service site that really worked for me. I did my share of bouncing around different sites which, although it was a good experience, didn't let me be one of those cool Bonners who spent all 4 years at one place. But I finally found my way to CEC in the fall of my junior year, and have been here ever since.

    I've been working on a project collecting information on some of the different plant species around the property. This ties in really nicely with my academic interests, so it's been a lot of fun. I'm trying to put together a really accessible and easy-to-use field guide that people can use on the trails. I've also been working on a system to plot the property with a GPS that Aubrey can use in programs. That's been great because it gives me the opportunity to work with technology I'd never used before. I also got to do some other fun stuff around the center, like picking apples - that's my favorite odd job.

    Now that we're about to graduate, all the senior Bonners have been pushed to reflect on our experiences. And the more I do that, the more I realize how lucky I was to end up here at CEC, even if it was only for my last two years. This really was the perfect service site for me: a great organization, wonderful people, the chance to be outside so much, the connection to my interests while still giving me the opportunity to push myself - I don't know what else I could ask for in a service site. Thank you guys for letting me be part of it :-)