New Environmental Center Encourages Hands-on Learning


SARA MORIARTY, Feature Editor

The entire environmental center is not complete yet, but plans are in place to offer students opportunities to get in touch with nature and with sustainability.

“The new environmental center will be better designed,” Professor Angelo Spillo said. “We will offer students new opportunities and explore natural resources, including the wetlands and nature trails on campus.”

The environmental center classroom, which is up and running this semester, will also offer new opportunities to students. The classroom, as well as the rest of the environmental center, will be full of details that will encourage hands-on learning. Spillo will be teaching in the environmental classroom this semester, and is excited for students to take advantage of all the center has to offer.

The whole classroom building is powered by geothermal and solar energy, and the energizing process can be viewed and studied by students. There is a transparent room next to the classroom that houses the technologies used to power the building; students can thus get a firsthand look at what it takes to sustainably energize a building.

Students can also get hands-on experience with fieldwork. The classroom features a field research lab, which will allow students to experience more than just textbook learning. Cork cupboards provide an environmentally friendly way to store lab equipment for this field research.

The sustainable, sleekly designed space encourages active and environmentally friendly learning and lifestyles- right down to the bathroom. The bathroom in the classroom is equipped with a shower, and there is a water filter installed into the wall next to the room.  Spillo hopes that, once the Master Plan construction is completed, the shower will encourage students to bike to class. A bike rack may be placed in front of the building in the future.

The rest of the environmental center is still under construction, but it will have more features than the old center. There are possibilities of new exhibits for plants and animals. There is also a possibility of connecting to the Fit Trail on campus to create a new nature walk. New features are yet to be determined, however.

“The animals will be settled in first, and then it will be decided where new exhibits will go,” Spillo said. “Theme gardens, beehives, and new animal exhibits will be planned.”

The new farmhouse building will encourage student participation; there will be space designated for student organizations to utilize.

“We want students to feel comfortable using the facility,” Spillo said. “We want the student space to become a home base for any nature or sustainability clubs.”

Spillo is optimistic that the environmental center will be done with construction by late fall. For now, environmental studies students will reap the benefits of the environmental classroom.

“Everyone will be welcome once construction on the center is finished,” Spillo said.