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College environmental studies program to encourage care through tubing

| Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Saint Mary’s students are sliding into St. Patrick’s County Park to celebrate community on Sunday.

The day will consist of snow tubing, community engagement, fun and warming up by the fire, environmental studies professor Aaron Moe said in an email. The event was co-sponsored by the environmental studies (ENVS) program and the Office for Civic and Social Engagement. Moe commented on how the event contributes to both of the program and offices goals.

“[The OCSE director Rebekah DeLine and I] started talking about a tubing trip to Saint Patrick’s Park,” Moe said. “She liked the idea that such an event would help students connect with the rich history of the early [Holy Cross] sisters who farmed on what is now St. Pat’s park. It could be one of many events that celebrates the 175 years of Saint Mary’s. And from an ENVS perspective, it is a great way to get outside.”

Both Moe and DeLine played pivotal roles in the planning of the event, Moe said.

“I helped get the vision of it established and then helped where I could to bring the vision to fruition,” he said. “Rebekah DeLine covered all the logistics with St. Patrick’s Park. I helped by making the flyer, the Google form, and things like that.”

Moe said he hopes to raise awareness for available programs at the College and for the rich history that connects the College and the sisters to farming and St. Patrick’s Park. He sees the event connecting students with the sisters’s early farming practices, which will also help to support the building of a sustainable farm on the Saint Mary’s campus.

“One of my hopes is that such events will increase awareness of our environmental studies program at Saint Mary’s. It is now a major,” Moe said. “Along with the ENVS major, a group of people have been working to start an organic, sustainable farm at Saint Mary’s. … I hope that students who go tubing recognize that the vision of the early sisters growing their own food for Saint Mary’s students to eat is carrying forward in the efforts to have a farm on Saint Mary’s campus.”

Moe invited the entire Saint Mary’s community to the event via email, and three and a half hours later, the 99 available slots were filled. Moe said he had some ideas of why the event appealed to so many people.

“Even though there is a constant, low grumbling about the snow, many people out there — myself included — love it,” Moe said. “The fact that this filled up so fast shows that many students, too, love the snow. Some people may be surprised that it filled up so fast, but then, why should anyone be surprised? If someone is surprised, they probably need to reexamine their assumptions as to who the students are at SMC.”

Many people were placed on a waitlist for the event after the 99 slots were claimed. Moe said he is planning similar events for the upcoming seasons that he hopes will connect students with the environment in the future.

“I plan to make sure the Fall Float happens each autumn, the spring hike, and, I imagine, that this won’t be the last time we go tubing,” Moe said.

Moe said he is excited to help establish a relationship between students and the outdoors. He feels as if connecting students to nature in this seemingly trivial way will translate into love for the earth and a passion for environmental justice, while also helping to fulfill the Saint Mary’s mission.

“I love that Saint Mary’s has a mission that involves both social and environmental justice,” Moe said. “Getting outside develops our love for the Earth. We fight for the things we love.

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