Comets to Celebrate Sustainability at Earth Week Events

Craig Lewis

Craig Lewis, greenhouse landscape coordinator, has grown about 900 milkweed plants a native habitat of the dwindling monarch butterfly population that will be planted by students at the Disc Golf Field during Monarch Madness on Monday. (Photo by Arun Prasath/Mercury staff photographer)

The UT Dallas community will participate in its fourth annual Earth Week activities April 20-24, helping to highlight environmental issues from recycling to gardening to preserving declining insect species.

The week’s largest event, Earth Fair, will feature nearly 30 booths and activities from student organizations, campus departments and community agencies from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday on the Student Union Mall.

“We have expanded Earth Week to include more educational and direct service events to help Comets learn some practical ways they can be green and also to support those who are already environmental stewards,” said Monalisa Amidar, assistant director of the Office of Student Volunteerism (OSV).

“Our students know the value of recycling, energy and water conservation, and the benefits of organic gardening and planting more trees. This year we wanted to engage students in other types of sustainability efforts, such as upcycling, and to include a discussion about other types of conservation they can participate in,” Amidar said.

OSV organizes Earth Week events along with Facilities Management’s Sustainability department. Students in organizations and clubs that include Student Government and Sustainability Club also have shared in planning activities for the week. Vedic Organization For Inspiration Culture and Education (VOICE), Hillel and Radio UTD are also participating or hosting their own Earth Week events.

A highlight of this year’s Earth Week is a special activity to help the declining monarch butterfly population during its yearly migration from Mexico to Canada. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants, but their native habitat has become scarce.


Registration is required for some Earth Week events. A list of activities sponsored by the Office of Student Volunteerism is posted on the Earth Week site. For more information or to register, call 972-883-6393 or email [email protected].

UT Dallas has been named an official waystation for migrating monarchs by the conservation program Monarch Watch, thanks to a plan developed by University staff members. Craig Lewis, greenhouse landscape coordinator, has grown more than 120 flats — about 900 plants — of two varieties of milkweed, and students are encouraged to help hand-sow the plants during Monarch Madness from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Monday. Volunteers will meet at the Visitor Center and then proceed to the Disc Golf Field.

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, Honey Bee-Ware, will inform viewers about why certain bee colonies have been rapidly decreasing in recent years. The free movie will be shown at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the McDermott Library auditorium (MC 2.410). Dr. Scott Rippel, a lecturer in biological sciences who teaches honeybee biology, will introduce the film.

“Challenging and supporting our operations to connect with our student interests and academic endeavors across campus is a goal for the Sustainability Office,” said Thea Junt, assistant director of energy conservation and sustainability. “Earth Week is one time when we get to show our students and community that we are committed to being a green campus.” 

Another new project is creating jump-ropes from recycled plastic bags. Operation Upcycle participants will transform plastic grocery bags into colorful jump-ropes for children from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday in the Residence Hall South Multipurpose Room. The jump-ropes will be donated to local Healthy Zone schools that promote physical activity and health education.

Once again, E-Waste Roundup volunteers will accept and recycle personal electronic items such as printers, cellphones and computer monitors. Items may be dropped off outside the Clark Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday.

A Master Gardener will teach students how to plant vegetables and care for the land in a free workshop from 10 a.m. to noon Friday at the Community Garden.

Off-campus activities will include Adopt-a-Highway Cleanup on a stretch of the Bush Turnpike between Coit and Alma roads from 9:30 a.m. to noon Monday, and Urban Tree Farm Cleanup at Texas Trees Foundation from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].