Western Washington University and the City of Bellingham will once again partner on a year-end event to help students sort their unwanted materials generated from moving out.
Bins for reusable household items, clothing, non-perishable food, recyclable materials, and landfill waste will be available at three sorting stations in neighborhoods near the university from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, June 12, as part of this Move-Out Madness event.
Previous years' events have reduced the number of abandoned items left in neighborhoods and diverted many pounds of recyclable and reusable items from the landfill.
"Moving out can be stressful and wasteful given the large amount of stuff accumulated throughout the year," said Jacob de Guzman, previous Zero-Waste Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability. "Move-Out Madness provides all the necessary resources so students can sort their unwanted goods properly and begin their summer on the right foot."
Three neighborhood locations will be available around Western from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, June 12. The locations are:
- Franklin Park in the York Neighborhood (400 block of Whatcom Street);
- Laurel Park in the Sehome Neighborhood (Laurel & Indian St.);
- 26th & Douglas in the Happy Valley Neighborhood.
The Office of Sustainability is recruiting volunteers to assist with the event. A training session will be provided for volunteers right before the event by Office of Sustainability staff. Those interested in volunteering should contact Gwen Larned at email@example.com.
Western Washington University Youth Programs invite families to join in on a variety of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities at their inaugural Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 30, in the Academic West building on Western’s campus.
The event, which is free and open to the public, is a great opportunity to learn about careers in STEM while supporting young female learners participating in Western’s Youth Programs this summer.
During the fair, there will be STEM demonstrations every 30 minutes, including a presentation from astronaut Wendy Lawrence, a marine life touch tank, robotics, a science photo booth and more. The GEMS Fair will also feature a silent auction and prize table. All proceeds from the auction will support young women participating in Western Youth Programs this summer.
Due to Western’s Child on Campus Policy, families are asked to pre-register by clicking this link to quicken the check-in process. Parental supervision is required at the fair. Free parking is available in the gravel parking lots in front of Fairhaven College.
WWU is an equal opportunity institution. For disability accommodation, please contact Extended Education at (360) 650-3308 or ExtendedEd@wwu.edu.
Virginia’s South River flows along the western foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, coiling its way across bucolic rolling farmlands and through small towns, marching north to join first the Shenandoah and then the Potomac before eventually emptying into the Chesapeake Bay.
With its load of fresh water drained from lush mountain valleys with names like Cool Spring Hollow and Gum Springs, the South River carries with it a toxic tide: mercury, dumped into the watershed for more than 20 years from DuPont's Rayon plant in Waynesboro.
For the past five years, Wayne Landis, director of Western Washington University’s Institute of Environmental Toxicology and professor of Environmental Sciences, has worked to understand how the mercury in the South River affects humans as well as the fish and animals that live in and along it. Assisting him has been a corps of graduate students, each adding their research to the work of a team consisting of state and federal environmental agencies; the Army Corps of Engineers; environmental nonprofits such as Save Our Streams and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; DuPont; and other academic institutions such as Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and the University of Delaware.
Tasked with providing the funding needed for research and remediation of the South River, DuPont contacted Landis to work on an environmental assessment of the river as well as to put together a framework strategy for how the river could be most safely used for fishing, boating and recreation.
After five years and about $500,000 in grant funding for this work from DuPont, Landis said this first stage is almost complete.
“The thing about mercury is that it doesn’t go away, or degrade,” said Landis. “Once it’s there, it’s there to stay until it is removed. Flooding on the South River takes the mercury from the sediment and deposits it along the flood plain or high up in the banks, where it binds with the soil, so it’s not just the area right next to the plant that is at risk.”
For more than 20 miles downriver from Waynesboro, public lands along the banks are posted with signs warning against eating any fish caught there. Microbes ingest mercury from the sediments, and this mercury bio-accumulates as it goes higher and higher in the food chain, up to the river’s largest fish predators such as smallmouth bass. What this means is that the river’s smallmouth are ingesting and storing every bit of mercury previously ingested by the creatures down the chain.
Landis said removal of toxic sediment isn’t the cure-all that it seems. Disturbing the sediment can potentially release mercury back into the watershed, as removal is a tricky process, and armoring the banks of the river is not only very expensive but it removes valuable habitat for many of the animals that live there and could further devastate the ecosystem.
“What we are working towards is finding a strategy for human use that is realistic and safe – tourism, recreation and fishing are huge parts of the local economy – while at the same time understanding exactly how this mercury is affecting the ecosystem,” he said.
Landis and his team tracked data on four species common along the South River to better understand how they are faring in the face of the mercury contamination: smallmouth bass, white sucker, Carolina wren and Belted Kingfisher. Not too surprisingly, the two species that live in the river – the white sucker and the smallmouth bass – showed the highest amounts of mercury.
Besides his own work on the project, Landis has been able to place a number of his graduate students into the project, such as Meagan Harris, who recently completed an analysis and threat assessment for the South River Science Team (SRST) on how the South River’s mercury load impacts both the environment as well as recreational uses such as fishing and boating.
The realities of the South River are now clear to most – that mercury will be in the South River watershed for generations to come. Landis says what he and his team are working to accomplish is to provide the state, federal and local agencies working on the river with a tool they can use to best understand how to move forward.
“This is a case study, and we want to use it as a way to set up a long-term monitoring system that can be used as a blueprint for how others can move forward,” he said. “There are dozens of Waynesboros out there, whether it’s mercury or PCBs or something else. And they’re all wondering how to get started, and how to move forward in the long-term – and that’s where threat assessments and plans like these can be used. It’s a template for helping understand environmental risk.”
DuPont’s Ralph Stahl said Landis and his team have provided a tool that the SRST can use to better understand how risk-management actions can be used to improve conditions in the watershed.
“We really value the partnership we’ve had with Dr. Landis and his students,” said Stahl.
For more information on Landis’ work along the South River, or about Western’s Institute for Environmental Toxicology, contact Wayne Landis at (360) 650-6136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bellingham Brain Cancer Walk: Hannah’s Walk for the Cure will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 30 at Civic Field in Bellingham.
The non-competitive walk will feature a live band, kids’ zone and speakers. An honor tent will be available to post photos and messages in celebration of survivors or to honor the memory of a friend or loved one.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Chris Elliot Fund, which strives to shorten the gap and time it takes from a patient’s brain cancer diagnosis to receiving advanced treatment and enrollment into clinical trials. Since 2002, the fund has been offering support to patients in many forms including one-on-one care, and ultimately hopes to end brain cancer.
Online registration for the walk is $25 per walker, and can be done now through May 29 at http://chriselliottfund.org/events/2015-bellingham-brain-cancer-walk/. Day-of registration will be available for $35 at Civic Field on May 30th starting at 10 a.m. Patients walk for free, and donations may also be made online at any time.
A group of students from Western Washington University and Squalicum High School are working alongside a board of volunteers to carry out the event, originally imagined by Hannah Dashiell, and will put on the Bellingham Brain Cancer Walk for the second year in her memory after she was tragically killed in a car accident on January 5, 2014. Envisioned by Hannah as a tribute to her grandfather and a gift to the Bellingham community, the event now also serves to honor Hannah’s memory and the incredible impact she had on all those around her.
Hannah’s father Dennis Dashiell is the assistant director for Organizational and Professional Development in Western’s Human Resources department.
“The hope and community engagement of the Bellingham Brain Cancer walk is exactly what Hannah wanted to see in honor of her Grandpa Jerry. Hannah was such a blessing to this world. It makes Jeannette, Maddy and I so proud to see that she continues to inspire others. The walk really is her true positive light and energy,” Dashiell said.
The students are being mentored by Western Washington University faculty member Heather Davidson of the Communication Studies department, working in conjunction with Dan Purdy, as well as a board of volunteers for the event.
For more information about the event and registration, visit http://chriselliottfund.org/events/2015-bellingham-brain-cancer-walk/or contact Dan Purdy, director, Western Washington University’s Front Door to Discovery Program at (360) 650-3825 or email@example.com.
Western Washington University’s Extended Education will offer “Prose Writing at its Best” to staff, faculty, students and community members this fall, in which participants will develop and strengthen skills in voice, dialogue, scenic depiction and structure for use in creative writing.
Interested participants are invited to meet the instructor of the non-credit Continuing Education course 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 21 at Village Books in Fairhaven.
Writers of all experience levels will have the opportunity to network with other local writers, as well as enhance their writing skills through take-home prompts and expanded assignments. Upon successful completion of all three courses, participants will earn a WWU Certificate of Completion.
“Prose Writing at its Best’ is instructed by Pushcart Prize winning author Laura Kalpakian, whose acclaimed writing can be found on her website, laurakalpakian.com.
Ridgefield Student Receives Presidential Scholar Award from WWU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts
Western Washington University graduate Evan Rumble of Ridgefield received the 2015 Presidential Scholar Award from Western’s College of Fine and Performing Arts on Tuesday, May 12.
Rumble graduated from Western last winter with a bachelor’s degree in Art Education. He is currently working as a substitute teacher in Bellingham and will continue to do so through the end of the school year. Rumble has volunteered at Sehome High School and Whatcom Museum’s Family Interactive Gallery (FIG), and is working with local schools to integrate the arts into their curriculum.
His long term goals are to teach somewhere in the Southwest and said he plans to take some time this summer to travel.
For more information, contact Chris Casquilho at Western’s College of Fine and Performing Arts at (360) 650-2829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.