Meet the GEO Team
They are student leaders at Catawba College who have been charged with the task of helping to make the Center for the Environment’s ambitious educational efforts even better. They are young adults who are eager to develop and strengthen their own teaching and collaborative leadership skills. They are the Green Education Outreach (GEO) team. And they are a creative and dedicated bunch.
“These students are very committed to looking for ways they can enhance our programs and engage others from around the campus in those programs,” says Center Executive Director John Wear. “They are great representatives of the Center.”
Here are short profiles on the GEO members.
Jacob Snyder, a sophomore majoring in Environmental Studies and Environmental Science, wants, in his words, “to create a more sustainable world to leave for generations to come.”
This Eden, N.C., native is deeply involved in Center activities, and is quick to lend a hand. He does everything from promoting the Center at environmental fairs and assisting staff members when renowned environmental leaders come to the campus to helping middle school students understand macro invertebrates that live on the ecological preserve.
Attending the presentations by guest lecturers, like the internationally renowned Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute, has been a broadening experience for Snyder. “These lectures have added to my education by showing me firsthand what people are doing to help the environment and local communities,” he says.
Educating others about the environment is important, he says, “because the more one knows about it, the more one can help.”
A junior Environmental Science and Biology double major, Jennifer Goble wants to go into environmental planning or sustainable design when she graduates.
Being a member of the GEO team gives her opportunities to teach and speak on environmental topics, she says. “It mixes what you learn in the classroom with real-world experience.”
She works with different age groups in the community and the schools. “I’m honing my own skills in education,” Goble says. “I like the idea of teaching others about how to be environmentally friendly. We make students aware of what they can do to help.”
Goble notes that the Center brings in excellent speakers. “It’s a good way to meet people in the area and in my field,” she says. “It’s one of the really good things about the Center.”
GEO Team activities tap her creativity. “I get to show my creative side when we develop videos and posters for the Center’s events,” she says. “We come up with marketing ideas and ways to get people more involved.”
Sophomore Jonathan Cooley is helping with the marketing of the National Youth Environmental Summit, a five-day landmark experience that will bring sustainability designers, scientists and engineers from Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado to the Catawba campus in July 2010 to teach alongside Catawba faculty.
An Environmental Science major from Mocksville, Cooley helps with the orchestration of Center events and speakers. “It’s really neat to be able to meet the speakers in person and be able to talk with them,” he says.
He is developing an educational program on bird watching as part of his GEO experience. He plans to take groups onto the ecological preserve on bird-watching expeditions. “The Center provides a place where I can apply what I have learned in the classroom,” he says.
Sarah Robinson knows that the presentations by renowned environmental leaders at the Center offer her opportunities rare in a small college setting. She was especially impressed with Lester Brown, founder of Worldwatch Institute and current founder and president of Earth Policy Institute, who spoke on the Catawba campus in 2008. “I liked his ideas about energy and food production and how making a change isn’t that difficult,” she says. “It’s a mindset issue.”
Robinson, a junior Environmental Science major from Cartersville, Va., has opportunities to teach and learn about how a non-profit works as a GEO Team member and work-study student. “I get hands-on experience in teaching,” she says. “And I gain insights about non-profits.”
She wants the GEO team to get out in the public schools more. “The way our school system is structured, when you are in high school is when you decide on a college major, and that determines your career path,” she says. Robinson knows that offering ideas about environmental stewardship and ways to live sustainably can plant seeds in the high school students and influence what they study in the future.
She believes firmly that her generation needs to be educated about the environmental problems of the world so they can come up with viable solutions. Says she: “We need to be the ones to make it happen.”
Environmental Education major Sarah Moore has multiple opportunities to interface with the Center
for the Environment. A junior from Mocksville, she has served as a work-study student at the Center for
three years and was an integral part of the first conversations about establishing the GEO Team.
The thought leaders who speak at the Center have given Moore a valuable perspective on her
field. “With each speaker I leave with something different,” she says. “I learn a lot about the
environmental field with each one.”
She finds it encouraging that more and more people are beginning to think about the environment. “The
first time I heard Dr. Magryta (a pediatrician who works with asthma patients) talk, I thought, ‘Wow!
This is starting to get noticed in the health field.’ And it was good to hear that even large corporations
are beginning to focus more on the environment.”
Her passion is alternative energy resources. “I have such a strong feeling about things like mountaintop
removal and nuclear energy waste,” Moore says. “There are so many other things we could be doing
instead of ruining our precious resources.”
It’s important for her generation to be advocates for the environment, she says. “We only have one
planet, and we don’t need to mess this one up any more.”
Kyra Thurow, a junior environmental education major from Holly Springs, N.C., is an active member of both the GEO team and ECO (Environment Catawba Outreach). A former secretary of ECO, she now serves as the organization’s president.
Thurow helps with Center programs, focusing particularly on events designed for school groups. In addition, she has helped with the Catawba Conservation Camp.
Her internship this semester involves researching migratory patterns of various bird species and different techniques that are used to prevent birds from flying into windows. Windows are a dominant feature of the Center for the Environment facility, and Thurow wants to have preventative measures in place before the migratory season begins.
Thurow notes that her involvement with the Center has given her a better understanding of how to work in an organization that focuses on green initiatives. “It has taught me how to get people involved and interested in those types of events, especially how to make the programs more exciting for kids,” she says.
She wants to work with children in outdoor settings when she graduates and already has experience in that field. Her father is the executive director and her mother is the environmental education director of Agapé Kure Beach Ministries, a camp of the Lutheran Church, and she has spent the past five summers working with children at the camp in Fuquay-Varina, N.C.