By: Farhin Lilywala
Epicenter is an annual environmental conference in its third year, developed with the purpose for students to learn and express their opinions and concerns about the environment.
This convention was founded in 2010 as a part of a grant the Center for Sustainability received. During the first year, the conference focused on entrepreneurship and leadership. However, for the past two years, the theme revolved around jobs and how to intertwine passion and hobbies with environmental sustainability.
This year, Epicenter was held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 30, in the Regnier Center. The conference highlighted how students in higher education have been involved in such efforts as a sustainable restaurant internship, school-wide recycling and biodiesel initiatives. It also highlighted people that have just started with embracing their eco-friendly initiative or started over.
“Seeing it as not only a great way to provide our students with some information about what sustainability is, how it’s being implemented at the campus, how they can implement it in their own lives, especially, as you can see from the focus this year, with their studies or their careers, but it also allows JCCC to be this central hub, hence the name, Epicenter, for student sustainability leadership in the area,” said Kim Criner, event organizer.
The 2013 conference featured several speakers such as Summer Rayne Oakes, eco-model entrepreneur, faculty and students from KU Biodiesel Initiative, Eric Nelson, crew leader for KU Recycling, Emily Reno, JCCC student, Lynate Pettengill, Citizens Climate Lobby, Yvette Hirang, former JCCC sustainable restaurant intern, and Mike Ryan, JCCC Campus Farm manager.
Oakes combined environmental science with fashion modeling, by co-founding an online, sustainable materials marketplace, Source4Style, writing “Style Naturally,” and designing optics and shades. The KU Biodiesel Initiative explained the importance of students in preserving the environment through producing biodiesel from used cooking oil generated on campus.
Nelson highlighted that access to green jobs is becoming even more available as society continues to stress one’s awareness about our environment. Moreover, he explained that the availability of green jobs is not limited to working on a farm or wind turbine, the scope is much broader than that. Reno and Pettengill brought climate control into the spectrum of the variety of issues needing to be dealt with in environmentally sustainability.
One of the most discussed parts of the conference was the lunch. The buffet lunch featured produce grown on the campus farm, prepared and served by the culinary department. It was a formal buffet and only emphasized the message that the speakers were attempting to convey; environmental sustainability can be brought into any aspect of one’s life.
After lunch, Hirang demonstrated through her own experience of transitioning from marketing to the culinary arts that a person could truly combine passions such as cooking and being eco-friendly. Ryan finished the presentation of speakers with discussing how the concept of sustainable agriculture affects society through a detailed overview of the college’s campus farm and its purpose in the community.
At one point in the day, more than 100 people attended Epicenter 2013.
Contact Farhin Lilywala, news editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.