Penn State Berks celebrates Sustainability Month with tours, film fest

The Penn State Berks Sustainability Team, led by Dr. Mahsa Kazempour, Associate Professor of Science Education, has a variety of activities and events in April for the college?s first annual Sustainability Month celebration. These activities and events, planned and coordinated by various faculty, staff, and students, will focus on raising awareness and encouraging personal and community action. 

During Earth Week, there will be a series of Pollinator and Wildlife Tours on campus, led by John Rost, Research Technician for Horticulture and Turfgrass and member of the Berks Sustainability Team.

The Pollinator Tours will be held on April 18, 2016, at 1 p.m. and April 20, at 4:30 p.m. These tours will focus on campus honey bee areas, native bee houses, and plants that are beneficial for the pollinators. All tours will begin behind the Janssen Conference Center and start with an examination of the optimal wildflower garden design, layout, and placement for pollinators by examining the wildflower garden on campus. Next, Roth will cover various bee structures and where they should be placed in the garden. He will discuss various types of bees that are indigenous to this area and the problems they are facing such as loss of habitat, disease, and use of pesticides. The tour will conclude in the honey bee garden, a field of Echinacea and other pollinator-friendly plants.

The Wildlife Tours will be held on April 18, at 4:30 p.m.; and April 20, at 1 p.m.; and will focus on various campus structures for bats, bluebirds, squirrels, kestrels, and ducks, as well as the habitat needed for these structures to be successful. Rost commented that some of these structures were brought to campus by various outside organizations; the game commission brought the bluebird houses to campus, the Girl Scout Brownie Troop in Hamburg donated the kestrel boxes, and the Eagle Scout Troop in Dauberville recently contributed the campus bat houses.

In fall of 2015, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America?s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, recognized that Penn State Berks Greenhouse successfully created a Certified Wildlife Habitat through its Garden for Wildlife program. NWF celebrates the efforts of the staff and students to create a garden space that improves habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs, bats, and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife ? natural food sources, clean water, cover, and places to raise young.

Those interested in either tour should contact Rost at 610-396-6166 or [email protected] to register.

In addition, there will be a Sustainability Film Fest, featuring the following films:

Monday, April 18, 5 p.m., room 5, Luerssen Building, Free and open to the public: Film and panel discussion
April 25, 1 p.m., room 151, Franco Building (campus community):
Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce? Stephanie Soechtig's debut feature is an unflinching examination of the big business of bottled water. From the producers of Who Killed the Electric Car and I.O.U.S.A., this timely documentary is a behind-the-scenes look into the unregulated and unseen world of an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never to become a commodity: our water. From the plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottles end up, this inspiring documentary trails the path of the bottled water industry and the communities which were the unwitting chips on the table. A powerful portrait of the lives affected by the bottled water industry, this revelatory film features those caught at the intersection of big business and the public's right to water.

?Just Eat It
Tuesday, April 19, 5 p.m., room 5, Luerssen Building, Free and open to the public: Film and panel discussion
Wednesday, April 27, 1 p.m., room 151, Franco Building (campus community):  Film
We all love food. As a society, we devour countless cooking shows, culinary magazines, and foodie blogs. So how could we possibly be throwing nearly 50% of it in the trash?
Filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant dive into the issue of waste from farm, through retail, all the way to the back of their own fridge. After catching a glimpse of the billions of dollars of good food that is tossed each year in North America, they pledge to quit grocery shopping cold turkey and survive only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away. In a nation where one in 10 people is food insecure, the images they capture of squandered groceries are both shocking and strangely compelling. But as Grant?s addictive personality turns full tilt towards food rescue, the ?thrill of the find? has unexpected consequences. Featuring interviews with TED lecturer, author and activist Tristram Stuart and acclaimed author Jonathan Bloom, Just Eat It looks at our systemic obsession with expiry dates, perfect produce, and portion sizes, and reveals the core of this seemingly insignificant issue that is having devastating consequences around the globe. Just Eat It brings farmers, retailers, inspiring organizations, and consumers to the table in a cinematic story that is equal parts education and delicious entertainment.

Racing to Zero
Wednesday, April 20, 5 p.m., room 5, Luerssen Building, Free and open to the public: Film and panel discussion 
April 29, 1 p.m., room 151, Franco Building (campus community): Film

Racing To Zero
is a quick-moving, upbeat documentary presenting new solutions to the global problem of waste. By simply substituting the word ?resource? for the word ?garbage,? a culture can be transformed, and a new wealth of industries can emerge. Three years ago the mayor of San Francisco pledged to achieve zero waste by 2020. Racing to Zero tracks San Francisco?s waste stream diversion tactics and presents innovative new solutions to waste. This film documents a surprising, engaging and inspiring ?race to zero.?

The Berks Sustainability Team is also coordinating the following events during the month of April: tours of the electric vehicle and charging station; creation of waste and recycling displays; recycling activities and competitions; student community service projects within the Environmental Science course; and a visit from the Childhood and Early Adolescent Education Department to Glenside Elementary School for Earth Day. Additional details will be announced as plans are finalized.

For more information, contact Kazempour at 610-396-6312 or via e-mail at [email protected].