Sustainability-oriented volunteer opportunities

Amber Nicholson of the Office of Sustainability is currently working with student leaders planning for BC’s Earth Week activities, which will provide several opportunities for interested volunteers to help out. Specific information will become available as April 19 draws near. Nicholson explained that those seeking to volunteer should visit BC’s sustainability website and sign up for the monthly email newsletter to receive updates on their projects, events and need for volunteers.

During Earth Week, Nicholson plans to bring back the BikeMobile repair station, which will offer free bike repairs to anybody who is interested. She added, “We’ve also been working with the ASG BBQ planning team to make the BBQ a zero waste event.”

The Office of Sustainability works with the Associated Student Government to provide grants for student and faculty projects through the Student Environmental Sustainability Fund. Projects funded through the SESF include water bottle filling stations around campus as well as currently developing plans to add more bioswales to the campus – landscape features which serve to filter silt from water runoff while nurturing a variety of plant life. A letter of intent form is available on BC’s sustainability website and every member of the campus community with ideas for new sustainable ventures are encouraged to apply.

ASG Environmental and Social Responsibility Representative Henry LaVallee explained two monthly volunteer opportunities BC students are participating in, and encouraged others to join. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday Feb. 27, LaVallee and other volunteers will be working with Earth Corps at Lincoln Park, playing a role in maintaining native plant life. “There might be like 20 people in a platoon, and there’s about five platoons. They all meet at this park and there’s coffee and granola bars, and you basically do a team game when you first get there to get to know everybody a little bit,” LaVallee said. Afterwards, the groups are taken to small plots. Volunteers are taught what invasive species, such as Himalayan blackberries, look like, and then Earth Corps provides the tools to eradicate them. “They’re like ‘let’s just clean it up,’ and do it,” LaVallee said. To join, volunteers need to sign up through Earth Corps’ website.

BC students also provide meals at the local Boys and Girls club on the second Thursday of each month. Connected to the opportunity through Nourishing Networks, LaVallee explained “we donate the food and cook this big dinner,” which serves 60 or more middle schoolers. Other organizations such as churches and Best Buy also provide volunteers for other weeks, but LaVallee said “I think it’s most enriching for the kids there when it’s Bellevue College students.” He added, “If you’re smiling, laughing, playing cool music and talking to them, they’re going to be like ‘wow, you know college is a pretty cool thing.’” Students are needed to help prepare and serve the food, with entrees, salads and desserts all accepted. Contact LaVallee to get involved.

Opportunities to travel and learn are also available. Eight students recently attended the Oregon Higher Education and Sustainability Conference, at which representatives from several schools throughout the region met to share their projects and practices through panel discussions and workshops. Amongst those from BC was Peer-2-Peer mentor Marianne Albay, who attended OHESC because she “wanted to learn more about how to implement sustainable ideas at Bellevue College.”

Coming up is the Washington State Recycling Association’s 36th annual conference. Applications for scholarships to the event are available until Feb. 29, which will cover room and board in Wenatchee for the duration of the event, as well as access to the educational sessions, facility tours and networking opportunities with over 300 recycling industry professionals.