George Williams College was founded in 1890 by YMCA leaders who sought to educate students for lives of service, with a focus on body, mind and spirit. Today those foundations still exist and are present in GWC majors, including outdoor recreation leadership and management and sustainability and environmental management. With 137 wooded acres on the shores of Geneva Lake, the campus serves as the perfect setting for the in-depth study of the environment and how it affects the community. With this in mind, students founded the Responsible Solutions Club with the goal to educate the campus, get students involved in community projects and learn how their actions can affect the environment.
“As I look at the campus, the living lab is quite visible,” said club faculty advisor Richard Boniak. “The only way to sustain its beauty and spirit is to become an advocate.”
Last spring GWC hosted president of Living Lands & Water and 2013 CNN Hero of the Year Chad Pregracke who spoke to students and community members of his organization, the world’s only “industrial strength” not-for-profit river cleanup. This experience inspired the Responsible Solutions Club to support an alternative spring break trip to Memphis, Tenn., assisting Living Lands & Waters in their conservation initiatives. Recently GWC students along with faculty participated in a cleanup of the Mississippi River. They focused their efforts on removing trash and sorting recyclable materials on foot and in boats with the Living Lands & Waters team and other college students.
“People use the Mississippi to drink out of—it’s a life source for so many,” said Residence Hall Director Nathan Wagar. “We’re excited about what the students have learned on this trip.”
In the fall, the club participated in Oneida Nation’s annual white corn harvest in Green Bay, volunteered in Williams Bay’s Boo in the Bay Halloween walk and continued its sustainable efforts at the GWC Research and Education Farm. Additional plans for this semester include volunteering at Growing Power, Inc., an organization that provides training and hands-on experiences providing safe, affordable and healthy foods to the community. The club will also visit the Yerkes Observatory and the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservatory Arbor Day celebration. During Earth Week the students will host an herb and organic bake sale fundraiser, organize a campus cleanup and participate in A Night without Electricity, an energy conservation campus event. At the Research and Education Farm club members will tap Maple trees, collecting sap and preparing it for use in the Beasley Dining Hall.
For more information on the Responsible Solutions Club, contact faculty advisor Richard Boniak at firstname.lastname@example.org.