Nine years ago, I was offered the opportunity to become the program coordinator at WIU’s Horn Field Campus. And if you’ve read my colleagues’ prior submissions on this blog, a lot has happened at WIU in these last 9 years with regard to campus sustainability. I feel honored to have been a part of realizing the need for and implementing programs and activities to offer more sustainability education at WIU. : Environmentally minded WIU colleagues came together and began the environmental summit 12 years ago as a way to increase and encourage awareness of the triple bottom line. An RPTA graduate student envisioned it, and it is still carried out in 2014. And while the actions mentioned in the previous entries all sound relatively new in this millennia at WIU, I am only a very small part of carrying forward the legacy that has been “Horn Field Campus” for five decades. Yes, for almost 50 years, the sustainable values have been carried out in practice at the donated property that is a beloved local venue, and also one that has become known for environmental education and leadership development for many decades.
As I write this, I am viewing thirty 6-12 year olds from the Mt. Sterling YMC day camp utilizing this facility for an outing. Like any other group that comes to Horn for teambuilding and challenge course activities, I reviewed the full-value contract that we operate within with these youngsters upon their arrival. I explained that our values are safety, commitment, respect, accountability, and encouragement and we use our five-fingers on our hand to help us remember them throughout their time at Horn. After each value, I ask the youngsters what the value means. The youngsters answered a couple of the questions referring to taking care of the earth. They were eager to talk about this concept. Then I thought about how most of us, youth and adults alike, do profess that it is important to take care of our environment. And the innocence of the children today reminded me that while we all talk a good talk, how do we help people to walk the talk. I find every day that many visitors to Horn Field Campus have little vision of what sustainability really is besides “recycling”. And most don’t actually know much about the recycling process. So what happens between the years of the innocent youth expressing our need to care for the earth, and the university members who must go out of their way to recycle, let alone think about energy and water consumption and media-driven consumerism. Do we as individuals only really become aware when we have to? I think of my ancestors who wasted nothing because there was nothing to waste. This is the same thinking that goes into maintaining and improving the program and facility at Horn Field Campus for five decades. How do we do it with no operating budget and no custodial or scheduled groundskeeping help? By the shear love and passion of those who believe that if we use our social capital, and are very conscientious of how our self-generated funds are being used, while teaching and taking care of our natural resources, it can happen.
Challenge by choice doesn’t only have to do with ascending the high ropes course. It has everything to do with how each action, each dollar, and each choice we make every day affects those other than us, locally, nationally, globally.
So after almost 50 years of “making due” at Horn Field Campus, it is time to be create awareness and gratitude for all of the people who believe in the importance of the mission of Horn, realize it’s value to the community and support it in as many ways as there are people.
And don’t think that one person’s actions can’t effect future generations….a faculty member from the recreation and park administration department had a vision in the late 1960’s for Horn Field Campus. That one person’s vision began the effort. And still today at Horn, the sun is shining, the birds are singing. It’s a great day to be alive.