Student interns help "Heal the Land" this spring

Three student workers in the Center for Environmental Studies worked this spring to not only plant 1,500 trees in local parks, but to share with the local community ways to reduce their environmental impact on the earth.

Sophomores Brittany Siciliano, Chris Myers and Matt Williamson organized a “Heal the Land” program that enlisted volunteers from Elon First Baptist Church, a local Boy Scouts troop and other organizations in Alamance County. Together, the various groups spent a cool, rainy day in March planting trees in Cedar Rock Park, Pleasant Grove Recreational Park and Northeast Park.

The students also took turns visiting First Baptist Church each Sunday to share with worshipers tips for living a more sustainable lifestyle.

“They learn the value of how important it is to get people from the community involved in environmental stewardship,” said Janet MacFall, a professor of environmental studies and director of the Center that oversaw the interns. “One of the other things the students did was give a tree to each of the church members at the Baptist Church, and one of the students observed as he was driving in the community last week that most of the houses have their trees planted in the front yard, which I thought was pretty cool!”

Members of an Elon fraternity helped with the late March tree planting event.

“Heal the Land” was organized in partnership with Martin Fowler, a lecturer in philosophy, and members of the university’s Terra Nova Community. It was the second year in a row for the project, though MacFall said that in 2008, she named only one student to run the program.

The interns this spring said their different backgrounds lent various strengths to the group effort. Siciliano and Williamson are environmental studies majors; Myers is majoring in business.

“Matt knew a lot about the trees, specifically how to plant them, and Brittany knew a lot about the impact on the environment,” Myers said. “I brought in some knowledge of the business and organizational aspect.”

The student interns said the day was a success despite less-than-ideal weather.

Elon sophomore Chris Myers was one of three interns in the Center for Environmental Studies.

“It was really rainy but all the volunteers showed up and had a great time,” Siciliano said. “They were excited about the project and we got I done in a few hours. If it wasn’t raining, I’m sure we cold have gotten even more in the ground.”

What else did she take away from the experience?

“It was a great internship. I learned a lot about getting in contact with people from around the area,” she said. “People are interested in what you have to talk about. You just have to rope them in.”

Volunteers helped plant upward of 1,500 trees spread throughout three local parks.