Action Plans Emerge from National Environmental Summit at Catawba College

07/18/12 by Guest Writer

Brendan Smith (left) of Salisbury learns about bird banding from Dr. Joe Poston, associate professor of biology at Catawba.

By Sarah Robinson

SALISBURY, NC – Have you ever left an event feeling really excited about a topic but not knowing how to channel that excitement into a successful initiative once you got home?

The high school students attending the National Environmental Summit, “Redesigning Our Future,” at Catawba College are putting their enthusiasm and ideas into action. Throughout the week-long event, participants have been given the tools to enact environmental change in their local communities. Through a series of workshops, students practiced planning, communicating and mobilizing initiatives.  The next step was to put this knowledge into action.

tl_files/cfte/images/news_images/2012.7.18-summit-pieper-robinson.JPGStudents received an action plan form to better articulate their ideas on paper.  “Sometimes when you come up with a plan, there’s so much information that it’s hard to organize,” says Shaina Robinson, a participant from Ann Arbor, Mich. “The student action plan [layout] was really beneficial.


Shaina Robinson of Ann Arbor, Mich.

Once the details of their action plans are on paper, the students will submit them to summit staff, where they will be reviewed as grant applications. Four mini-grants will be awarded to initiatives that show great promise.

Monique Watkins, a participant from Landis, is excited to be able to get her ideas on paper and then “actually put them to use.”  Her action plan details an “Environmental Day” for her school to help other students become more aware of recycling and the amount of waste generated at her school. This event would include games, prizes, music and a keynote speaker to help get students more motivated to recycle.    tl_files/cfte/images/news_images/2012.7.18-summit-depuy-estes-watkins.JPG

Participants explored the gamut of possibilities to find problems they can solve – from building portable gardens and working with school administrators to install motion-sensor lighting in the bathrooms to starting a film series on environmental themes for children in New York City.


Monique Watkins of Landis, N.C.

Brendan Smith, a participant from Salisbury who attends North Rowan High School, has plans to improve her school’s recycling program and help the band program at the same time. “We already recycle paper,” she says, “but it bothers me to see plastic bottles in the trash cans.”  Brendan plans to increase the recycling program to include not only bottles but aluminum cans as well.  She hopes the marching band will be willing to helpher collect cans, sell the aluminum, and

use the proceeds to purchase new uniforms. 

The students found the action plan process beneficial.  “It was a good way to focus in and really plan out all the parts” necessary to enact a successful program, says Jonny Harding, a participant from Cary. 

tl_files/cfte/images/news_images/2012.7.18-summit-blackburn-harding-lemoine.JPGThe students submitted their action plans on July 13, along with a timeline outlining the steps they will take towards completing their plan in the coming months.  The Center for the Environment at Catawba will keep in contact with the participants throughout the year to provide any other assistance they may need as they implement their plans.


Jonny Harding of Cary, N.C.



 The Center for the Environment at Catawba College was founded in 1996 to provide education and outreach centered on prevalent environmental challenges and to foster community-oriented sustainable solutions that can serve as a model for programs throughout the country. For more information, visit or




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