As awareness for sustainability increases, Ohio State students are stepping up to help educate and initiate change on campus.
Pay It Forward’s fourth-annual “Spring into Service” event was held at the Ohio Union Saturday, bringing students together for a day of volunteering in the Columbus area.
Pay It Forward — which takes its name f
rom legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes’ famous quote — is a student cohort within the Office of Student Life that organizes large-scale service events and offers long-term service opportunities for students.
Students who signed up for the event were given an assigned location around Columbus such as Webster Park, a neighborhood park, where they worked on projects like removing waste and cleaning up invasive species for approximately 2 1/2 hours.
“We want to provide students the opportunity to serve in the community we live in and also have them be more connected to learn about what’s impacting our environment,” Ashley Guo, a fourth-year in biology, said.
Guo serves as the current chair of Spring into Service and has worked with Pay It Forward for two years. She helped organize the event, which had a 110-person turnout. She has also been involved with larger events such as MLK Day of Service and Community Commitment, which typically attracts about 1,000 student volunteers.
The event ended with a discussion panel of three guests: Nicole Voss, sustainability and environmental director at a specialty chemicals company called Ashland; Jason Cervenec, education and outreach director at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center; and Malena Grigoli, founder and president of Zero Waste Syndicate on campus.
The three answered questions about the importance of sustainability as well as personal questions from the volunteers.
Voss emphasized the power the younger generation has to change the world.
“I’ve grown to see that it’s a big responsibility, and it’s great to see the excitement of the younger generations around all these aspects of sustainability,” Voss said.
Through the service event and panel, volunteers learned about the importance of making sustainability a priority on campus and in everyday life for students.
Jacquelyn O’Brien, a third-year in finance, said she believes that as college students with fewer resources for sustainability, it can be hard to think about conservation. She said this only makes it more important to create awareness and take action.
O’Brien, along with Amy Smith, a
first-year in history, volunteered for the first time with Spring into Service on Saturday. While they had not participated before, both said they knew the importance of holding events like these on campus for students.
“I know, at least for me at school, I get in this world of school and myself, and I think it helps students have a small glimpse of what they can do in the environment even on campus and see the simple things they can do every day to implement to better the environment,” Smith said.