Monday, October 8, 2012

Hey all!
Check out our new blog here: New Blog

Friday, September 28, 2012

A New Blogger here at CEC!

 Hello CEC blog readers!
CEC is fortunate to have the help of volunteers to update our blog. These volunteers help support CEC's mission by writing about important environmental developments and keep folks in tune with the programs here on our property. We are so glad to have the help this year of an Earlham Bonner Scholar, Tori from Dallas. As a passionate environmental steward from the Southwest, Tori brings a unique perspective to our blog. Please help me in welcoming her to CEC!

Greetings, everyone! I am a first year Bonner Scholar and a freshman at Earlham College. As a prospective International Studies/Japanese Studies double major, my volunteer commitment with the Cope Environmental Center might seem to lack some motivation. I assure you this is not the case.

It does not take deep knowledge or passionate activism to be concerned about the environment. Some of the most good can be done by those who donate a few dollars or hours of service to charities and non-profit organizations. I personally believe that caring about the world one inhabits is an innate instinct that an unfortunate group of people in our society appears to lack.

I was born and raised in Texas, specifically a large suburb of Dallas. My city is full of sprawling parks and stringent recycle programs. My childhood consisted of barefoot walks through fields and clusters of live oaks. In my adolescence, I joined an equestrian drill team that required hours served as barn staff in exchange for riding privileges. While much of my time was spent feeding the petting zoo animals and sweeping the tack room, I also assisted with compost maintenance and clearing trails. By working directly with nature, I grew to appreciate it so much more than I would by simply reading a news article or watching a documentary.

My personal concern for the environment stems mainly from my support of conservationism; I acknowledge that what has already been destroyed is lost forever, and I look instead to protect what remains. Successful conservation efforts require the constant education of the masses and community leaders alike, for conservation is not only an environmental concern but also a hot political and social topic: absolute protection requires enforced legislation; such legislation occurs only when elected officials believe they are representing the majority opinion. This brings us back to education, because people cannot truly care about something that remains unknown to them. By giving my time to support organizations like CEC, I am aiding in furthering education about the environment, how it relates to us, and why it is so important. Personal experience has taught me that direct interaction with nature is the most effective teaching method.

Jeff Corwin said: “Today, I’m a conservationist because I believe that my species doesn’t have the right or option to determine the fate of other species, even ones that inspire fear in us.” More than the conservation of usable resources and endangered species, I care about making people understand why “pretty scenery” is so much more than just that. For example, every popular rural tourist spot is the habitat of a variety of species, some of which could not survive anywhere else. There are people who see this as insignificant. They might say, “What’s the loss of one species of bird when there are so many others still alive?” They do not understand the complex workings of an ecosystem, the transfer of energy through a food web, the critical role of keystone species, etc. But this lack of knowledge is not inevitable – it is the result of purposeful ignorance. Our respect for the natural world is diminishing, and I intend to do something about it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Fond Farewell-

            Most non-profit organizations are lucky enough to work with volunteers. These individuals donate their most valuable resource to the organization-- their time.  Volunteers, dedicating their energy and talents to a non-profit organization, are able to accomplish some pretty incredible things. Here at Cope Environmental Center, we have wonderful event volunteers and a fantastic corps of dedicated volunteers who lend their skills and time to the betterment of CEC.  Within CEC’s volunteer corps, we have a wonderful mix of helpful individuals called Bonner Scholars.

Bonner Scholars come to CEC through a program coordinated by Earlham College and are a huge asset to the center, working on important projects throughout the school year. This year, as in previous years, we have been blessed with a wonderful group of Bonner Scholars who have added so much to our organization. We grow very close to our Bonner Scholars throughout their four years at Earlham and are always sad to see them go!

This year, we are grateful for the help that Katrina Cohoe, Erin Crooks, and Luke Tierney have provided for us throughout their time at Earlham. Katrina has been essential in leaving a legacy model to use to take care of our produce garden; Erin has done great work caring for the garden and planting it, and Luke has been a tireless eradicator of invasive species on the property. These students have left a lasting impression on the property and on the staff throughout their time here and we wish them great success in their future endeavors. Come visit us soon!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Windy City Diary, Part I

Hello everyone!  It's Erica again, recently back from a trip to Chicago!  One thing that always amazes me about big cities is their initiative to become more "green."  This may seem ironic, considering the vast amounts of waste produced and exhaust fumes emitted all in one area, but if you think about it, these larger cities have much to overcome.  They know that they are hulking beds of environmentally unfriendly industrialism, so they have to fight harder to prove even their tiniest steps in creating a sustainable future.  Chicago seems to be heading in the right direction--at least in the area of awareness. So, I have decided that  I will point out some of this great city's attempts at sustainability.  Let's begin with a topic of interest for the ladies:  fashion.

I am a sucker for cute clothes.  I even switch my handbag each day to match my outfit; however, I realize that not all clothing is created equal.  There are some brands that do not take the environment into consideration in the least, so when I see a shop that promotes sustainability, I am willing to pay a little more.  When I went shopping in Chicago the other day, I was ready to pay that extra buck for a dress made of organic cotton or shoes made from recycled plastic, but what I found was almost too good to be true.

Many of you may have heard of the international brand H&M, if not for their up-to-date fashions, at least for their extremely reasonable prices.  Here I was, entering the doors of this adorable mecca, ready to shop 'til I dropped, when I saw a sign advertising a new sustainable line that they were featuring.  I went to check out the small line, proud that at least a small portion of the store was making an effort, but as I left this area and made my way around the three-story shop, I found that this line was scattered throughout!  I found tops made of recycled polyester and skirts made of organic say I was excited in an understatement.  To think that one of my favorite stores could have inexpensive, fashionable clothing that fights for a sustainable future is outrageous!  I did not have room in my bags to buy much; needless to say, I will be returning soon. I suggest you do too!

You can check out this site for more information:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nature's Crossroads Donates Seeds to Cope Environmental Center's Community Garden

The CEC community garden provides garden plots, seeds, tools, and water for free to community groups in Richmond that would otherwise not be able to grow their own food.  
One reason the community garden is able to provide this service is because Cope has received donated seeds the past three years from Nature's Crossroads in Bloomington, Indiana. The purpose of Nature's Crossroads is to provide regional growers with Earth-friendly seeds that improve the environment, get people outside, and encourage them to grow their own food.  Much of their seeds are locally grown, Midwest-adapted, and/or certified organic.

Nature's Crossroads supports garden projects in the Midwest which teach people to garden, grow food for the hungry, or revitalize urban areas.  The CEC community provides educational programs with community groups on how to garden, donates produce to Rock Solid, and provides gardening resources to residents in the City of Richmond.

We at CEC are grateful for the support of Nature's Crossroads, and encourage you to check out their webpage at  Shout out to a regional businesses that works to create sustainable and accessible fresh food!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

     Spring has sprung!  The days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising, but what I have also noticed is the vast amounts of calves that I have seen in Wayne County fields.  Why?  Well, spring is known to be the time for budding flowers, budding trees, and budding new lives, of course!  Now that temperatures are comfortable, the little guys are roaming everywhere.  This makes me think:  what kind of a future will these baby cows face?  I do realize that they are not human children, and therefore, are incapable of lessening their own impact on the environment, but the thought of any new life growing up in a world fighting for its own is troubling. 
     I, along with the staff here at CEC believe wholeheartedly in sustainability, and though it is sometimes difficult to do the right thing, I think that we should be thinking about future generations.  I admit that sometimes I forget to throw a plastic water bottle in the trash can--my humanity is at fault for that one, right?!  Those mistakes are rare and are not the point of the bigger picture:  if we do not do our part in living sustainable lives, what kind of a future do we leave for these calves?  Moreover, what kind of a future do we leave for our own generations to come? 
     I know that in this "green" age (and I am not just talking about spring!), we are used to being bombarded with Public Service Announcements and news telling us that we are wrong, wrong, WRONG for forgetting to throw away that single water bottle, but I think what is more important is that we try.  We can try to reduce our usage of shower water, try to reuse plastic containers, and try to recycle our cereal boxes.  Realistically, you alone may not be able save the world, but we are all links in this "green" chain; we are only as strong as our weakest link, and every single one of you should hold yourselves accountable to keeping the chain strong enough to sustain our future generations.  So, if we can all do our part by reducing, reusing, and recycling, isn't is like bestowing the best kind of gift on our children:  the gift of a healthy future?

Just a thought!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why can’t the activist and educator be friends?

I recently attended the Green Energy Summit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and was impressed at the collaborative atmosphere between activists, educators and businesses that unified to learn and share knowledge pertaining to sustainability and human impact on the environment.  To me, this summit was instrumental in showing how the symbiosis of educators and activists, united behind the cause of sustainability, can be an unstoppable force in garnering support for this pressing issue. 

Passion is important, especially when put behind a cause as pressing as the environment.  This passion can be directed in many ways, with education and activism being the chief outlets. Quite simply put, it is detrimental to the health of the debate surrounding environmental issues when education and activism are pitted against each other.  Too often it is the case that activists perceive educators as passive supporters of their causes, and educators view activists as drawing unwanted attention to the issues that they are so passionate about teaching. 

However silly this may seem, this is the climate that seems to be a trend nowadays, especially surrounding the topic of environmental responsibility and sustainability.  Because this is a relatively new field, and one that is evolving at a rapid pace, the debate over who is really ‘doing the most’ for the cause rages on without the discussants even realizing that the metrics on which they are being ‘measured’ are being developed on a daily basis. Simply put, the field of sustainability is evolving at too rapid of a pace for activists and educators to always be on forefront of new developments.  I propose that the two groups recognize the mutual benefits of working together in order to always stay on the cutting edge. 

From a third-party view, it is plain to see that educators who teach about sustainability and the environment help inspire an ethic of conservation in students- one that is guaranteed to last a lifetime. Equally as important, are the activists who draw attention to the causes that educators are so passionate about. Without educators, activists would not be able to help educate people on the depth of the issues at hand and vice versa. Both roles are essential and needed when trying to gain awareness and support for sustainability and environmental conservation. 

Additionally, because of the unfortunate introduction of ‘green washing’ into the sphere of sustainability, suspicions are immediately raised when people, organizations or businesses take steps to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Many previously existing programs and initiatives are advertised today as ‘sustainable’ because they loosely fit the bill of benefitting the environment in some way or another.  Not only does green washing provide a false sense of security to consumers, but it does a huge detriment to those who are striving their hardest to make what they do the most environmentally friendly as possible.

Attending the Green Energy Summit gave me a glimpse at the huge potential that could come about if activists and educators work in tandem to help bring support to one of the most pressing issues of our time. Arguing about who is doing more for the environment will only help to detract attention from the real issues at hand. I would encourage all who share a common passion for the environment to work together and find ways to collaborate and utilize the strengths and talents of both activists and educators. 

-Emily Bobrowich
Resource/Volunteer Coordinator

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Look! Spider!

     It's Erica, again!  As designated blogger here at CEC, one of my jobs is to stay informed and to inform our readers about environmental topics in the news.  I will say that though environmental stories rarely shine through the dark abyss of political reports with the upcoming election, one story sort of jumped out at me...or rather I jumped when I saw it.  I am talking about spiders.  Chances are that you experienced the sensation of tiny insects crawling all over you when I mentioned that word just now, but we really shouldn't be afraid of the little guys.
     One Japanese scientist at Iowa State University cast aside his fears and actually discovered something:  a certain species of spiders, called the golden silk orbweaver spider, can produce silk that is a better conductor than most other materials.  These creepy crawlies have been able to produce a silk that conducts more heat than aluminum, silicone, and pure iron (the materials commonly used today), only to be outperformed by diamond and silver.
     Another cool feature of this silk is that as it is stretched out, it only gets better, conductivity-wise.  Most other materials experience the opposite effect, making this new material adaptable in more situations.
     According to the University of Utah, "Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild the entire
commercial air fleet every three months" and "enough steel to reconstruct Manhattan." So, is it possible that this could reduce our dependence on the aforementioned products?   Well, scientists are not sure yet.  The material is still in the experimental stage; however, its discoverer, Xinwei Wang, believes that it could be used in cooling computers and other bits of technology, which currently rely on things like copper, aluminum, etc.
     Personally, I think that if this brave soul can find a way to reduce even the smallest fraction of our dependence on these resources (considering the widespread use of technology these days), he will have gone done in my history books as an environmental hero.  Besides this, if he can find a way to commercialize his discovery, a drop in the cost of electronics would be greatly appreciated!
     So, what do you think?  Is his discovery worthy of making environmental news, or does the thought of a permanent spider's web in your home computer make you jump?  Let me know!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Frog Dissection: A Rite of Passage or A Passage to Extinction

We have officially entered the age of technology.  I do not say this because even third grade students have their own iPhones, and not because some classes at American high schools have abandoned textbooks and now rely on laptops.  I say this because recently I discovered that some schools are going virtual when it comes to frog dissections.  Now, I know that this is only a brief unit in a middle school science class, but as a recent news cast on Channel One News pointed out, it is a “rite of passage.”  Younger students know that their older brothers and sisters have been able to dissect and examine their very own frogs in class and they wish to live to tell this story to their younger siblings as well.  So, after viewing the new method of dissection, I began to wonder:  why? And is it really better?
First, I had to look at the facts:  1/3 of all amphibians are endangered and a majority of frogs used in dissections come from the wild.  I am 100% for saving endangered species, so this fact is substantial for me.  So, why not just grow them on farms?  Well, the problem with this is that these lab-grown specimens often carry infectious diseases that they can spread to natural populations.  Neither method is going to save many of this fading species.
Another important fact is that the cost, according to a teacher in this same news report, is $500-$1000 less per year to do the lesson online.  With this economy, I get that, too.  These facts seem to be enough to convince me, but one aspect of the new method that weighs heavily on my mind comes from the famous Chinese proverb, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”  If students cannot perform the dissection with their own hands, I fear that they will not receive the complete lesson.  The virtual dissection “tells” and “shows,” but it does not “involve,” which is my main concern with this.  So, the debate becomes difficult for me, an animal-lover and protector of all species.
The simple solution would be to outlaw frog dissections all together, but I have a hard time coping with such a loss of tradition.  I have not yet completely decided my stance on the issue, though I admit the continuance of a species is far more important to me than one lesson in science class; however, I would love to know what you would have to say!  Should we continue frog dissections in our local school systems, or should we join the technological age? 
If you would like to view a video of this news cast for more information, please visit: 

I would really appreciate your feedback!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Green" Gadgets

Hey, everyone!  It's Erica, again.  I am far from a “techie,” but I have to admit that I do not know what I would do without my iPod or my smart phone.  So many gadgets are out there that are environmentally-friendly AND cool, but I am clueless as to how far eco-technology has progressed; therefore, I decided to hunt for innovative, new gadgets that support a sustainable lifestyle.  I must admit that I was shocked at the inventions that have been produced lately that I had no idea even existed (I should know about this stuff, as a young person, but no worries, I am just as surprised at what I found as some of you may be)! 

Phone Charger T-Shirts
1.     Phone Chargers on Your T-shirt:  These t-shirts convert sound energy into energy to charge your cell phone or iPod.  Just attach your device on the chest of your t-shirt, and the technology on the stomach of the shirt will do the rest.  Imagine wearing one of these at a concert!

Solar-Powered Cooler
2.      Solar-Powered Cooler and Speakers:  This backpack keeps food and drinks cool with the power of the sun.  Not only that, but it houses two speakers for your music player and various chargers for your other electronic devices.  What a great way to come prepared for a hike or a soccer game!

Soda Maker
3.      Soda Maker:  With this little machine, you can make your own flavored sodas or seltzer water, in the comfort of your own home.  You can choose your own flavors and even mix them to create your own concoction without the use of electricity.  What a refreshing way to reduce the use of plastic containers!

Planter Lamp
4.      Lamps with Built-in Planters:  These Liquid Wood lamps (an organic material) have an LED strip built-in above the planter that serves as a lamp, while you grow your choice of houseplant.  With this eco-gadget, you can fulfill your New Year’s resolution of “greening your thumb” with a functional decoration for your home.
Water-Powered Alarm Clock

5.     Water-Powered Alarm Clock:  Save electricity by simply pouring water into the H2O battery on the side of the clock.  No need to replace old batteries either when your clock stops, just remember to fill it back up with water from your sink.  The only downside is that you cannot blame your clock anymore for making you late!

These are just a few of the many cool, new ways to “go green” this year (see or to find more information about the products listed here).  Whether you are in need of a new gadget, or you simply wish to treat yourself for that one fewer napkin you have been selecting, these ideas are a great way to do so.   What are you waiting for?  Go get your very own “green” gadget!  You and your planet deserve it!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Quote Each Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Hello, everyone!  It’s Erica again, and I’ve been thinking (uh-oh!).  In the rush of our busy lives, often we only have time for worrying about preserving the environment, rather than appreciating it.  Yes, we recycle our plastic water bottles (right?), but sometimes we don’t think about the beauty that we are saving with our actions.  I know that, personally, when I set aside time in my day to take a quick walk, I am more motivated to aid Mother Nature in her constant struggle against us humans.  So, on one of these contemplative treks, I decided that I needed to spread my motivation to those of us who lack this time to return to nature. 
Nothing motivates me more than a good quote.  Perhaps I am alone, due to my oddly intense love for the written word, but I figured that I’d share some of my favorite quotes about the environment with you all (Bear with me, please, if you aren’t the “inspirational speech type”.  You just may find a little something to chew on this week, regardless).

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  ~Native American Proverb

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.  ~John Muir

Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.  ~Chief Seattle

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.  ~John Ruskin

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice for your soul is alive.  ~Eleanora Duse

Now, I know that words on paper (or your computer screen in this case) are simply words to some, but if you don’t have time to connect with nature physically, then I hope that these quotes give you the inspiration you need to continue your sustainable life.  Any difficult task is made all-the-more difficult when we forget why we are doing it.  Remember that each step that we make towards a “greener” existence helps ensure the nature’s beauty into the future.  With this bit of wisdom in your minds, go forth and conserve!

P.S.  As a follow-up to my previous blog post:
It is always great to stay up-to-date and read about other great ways to live a sustainable life; therefore, articles and other sources that provide inspiration for my blog posts are always encouraged.  I would like to thank Emily for showing me this article and I hope that it inspires you too!
Follow the link below to read the article:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

To the "Greener" Side in 2012

Hello, everyone!  It’s Erica again, but this time the New Year is upon us and our resolutions are in full swing.  Last time, I gave you all some unique ways to “green” your lives in 2012.  So far, I have purchased a stylish eco-tote for all of my purchases and have reduced my napkin usage from four to two napkins per meal.  My resolutions have only begun, but already I feel as if what I am doing is making a difference; however, it has not been completely peaches and cream.  I am only human and naturally, I reach for a pile of napkins or accept the plastic sack that the grocery store clerk offers me. Only when I consciously stop myself and think do I stick with my goals.  As one of our followers has pointed out (Thank you, Chuck for such inspiring input!), a goal on paper is one thing, but to form a habit is an altogether different sort of feat.  We must continue "greening" our lives not only for the month of January, but into the future if we want to really make our actions count. Sounds like an upward climb, eh?  Here are a few unique tips to aid you in your uphill battle:

1. Failure is your friend.  As I stated before, we are all human and we WILL forget occasionally.  Do not be discouraged.  Instead, write your slip-up on a scrap piece of paper and place it somewhere where you can see it for the next week (car dashboard, wallet, etc.).  This small reminder will imprint itself in your memory the next time you respond “Plastic” at the grocery store.
2.  Reward yourself.  Now, I am in no way comparing us as humans to animals, but we all know that even an old dog can learn new tricks if there is a reward involved.  Why shouldn’t we follow the same rule?  Instead of taking your good behavior for granted, treat yourself to a new eco-tote or five minutes with your nose buried in a good book.  Not only will you reinforce your "green" habit, but you will feel great doing it!
3.  Find a Fellow Warrior.  Everything is easier (and more fun) when you have a partner in crime, so enlist a good friend to fight the battle with you.  Challenge each other to see who can commit the most "green"acts in one week.  Write down each eco-friendly step you take and at the end of the week, the losing, but equally important side buys coffee (without stirrers, of course!).  The incentive will ensure your best behavior and keep you repeating your actions.
4.  Form a trigger.  As silly as it may sound, a really great way to form a habit is to create your own personal trigger.  A snap of the finger, a click of the tongue or even a short phrase that you tell yourself will do. Each time that you take a step towards the "greener" side, perform this trigger, without fail; the key is repetition, so it is absolutely necessary to do this.  Proceed for at least a month and you will be well on your way to a shiny new habit. 

Not every one of these tips will work for everyone, but if we can stick to them for a month, we may just find ourselves on the "greener" side!  I hope to see you there!