Water Works Series: an opportunity to publish in print

Looking for a platform to share your passion for writing? Carlisle’s local/regional newspaper, The Sentinel, has started a monthly column called “Water Works”. This is a great venue for Dickinson students and faculty to publish in print paper. Interested? Submit your article to Lindsey Lyons, Assistant Director of the Center for Sustainability Education, at:  lyonsli at dickinson.edu.

Check out this piece by Classical Studies Assistant Professor Megan Newell Reedy, the most recent installment in the “Water Works” series in The Sentinel.

Beauty and efficiency of rain gardens
By Megan Newell Reedy, for The Sentinel

Where does all that water go when it rains?

In downtown Carlisle, where I live, much of the water rushes across parking lots and roadways and splooshes into storm drains that carry it to the Mully Grub and LeTort Spring Run. From there, it is carried to the Conodoguinet Creek, then into the old, wide Susquehanna River and on down to the Chesapeake Bay, where it slips into the Atlantic Ocean.

But not all of the rainwater goes that far that fast. Rainwater that falls on gardens and forests and fields and meadows has a chance to sink into the soil where plants use it and clean it. Then some of the water trickles slowly toward streams, and some filters down and down and down into our natural underground reservoir, the Cumberland Plateau Aquifer.

Rain gardens are designed especially to help this process.

A rain garden is planted in a shallow depression — usually just 6 inches or so — to encourage rainwater to gather rather than run off to the street. The soil in the depression is loosened up so that the water sinks into the ground easily and quickly.

Water doesn’t pool, which means mosquitoes can’t live there. It also means that the water in your beautiful rain garden isn’t heading for the storm drains.

So rain gardens not only save water by encouraging it to filter into our aquifer, but they also prevent flooding by helping keep roads and storm drains from being overwhelmed by water when it rains.

What plants do you use in a rain garden? Happily, the plants that do well in a rain garden tend to be sturdy types that can thrive without much attention: native grasses, ferns, flowering shrubs and even trees. All the plants in a rain garden help keep the soil loose so the water can sink in. They also absorb things like extra nitrogen or phosphorous that can hurt fish and upset the balance in streams, which means that rain gardens also help keep streams and rivers clean by filtering rainwater.

As a bonus, rain gardens also attract birds and butterflies because the plants provide them with food and shelter. Maybe the monarch butterflies will stop through. Or a cedar waxwing. Just be sure to hold off on your pruning and tidying until the spring so they have plenty of berries and warm twiggy nooks to sleep in through the winter.

For garden guidelines and lists of plants to use, visit the website for Penn State Extension at http://extension.psu.edu. For inspiration and information related to the Chesapeake Bay watershed in particular, visit the website for Rain Gardens for The Bays at www.raingardensforthebays.org.

Energy Challenge Student Survey Results


This “Energy & You” survey was sent out to all students living in the fifteen residence halls before and after the Energy Challenge (March 17th- April 7th, 2014) last spring.  264 students responded to the first survey, and 215 did to the second.  The aim of the survey was two-fold: first, to see if the Energy Challenge had any statistically significant change on sustainable behaviors in the residence halls, and second, to get a snapshot of their prevalence.  It asked questions about overhead lights, laundry, showers, unplugging appliances, and others.  The results show us what we’re doing well on, and informs what work we still have to do.  It will help us direct our initiatives to best address what behaviors we have room for improvement, and will be a valuable asset as CSE moves forward in building a culture of sustainability.

Meet Makalea: Eco-Reps Supervisor


Fox Glacier, New Zealand

My name is Makalea Branch and I am the Fall 2014 Eco-Reps Supervisor at CSE. I am a senior Environmental Studies and Policy Management double major. I just returned from a semester abroad at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. I am so looking forward to working with both new and returning Eco-Rep volunteers this semester. Our theme for the semester is water conservation.  I can’t wait to see what related events the Eco-Reps come up with this Fall! Any suggestions?

My personal water-related goal is to take shorter showers! What’s yours?
Share your event suggestions and goals in the comments!


Bike to Farm!

It’s the most wonderful time of year – Bike to Farm!

Bike to Farm is a fun and sustainable way to go to Farm Frolics. Participants can bike both ways or take a shuttle back to campus. To accommodate various riding skills, there are multiple groups based on riding speed and ability. Don’t forget your helmet!

If you are interested in participating in Bike to the Farm, RSVP by September 4. Pre-registration is requested – fill out our google form please! bit.ly/1qbbZJ2

Red bikes from DPS will only be available on a limited basis for riders who can demonstrate basic riding competency (please email herrmant@dickinson.edu for more information). Riders should meet at the Kaufman parking lot at 12:45 pm.

Farm Frolics 14 P8

Apply to be an Eco-Rep!

We are currently searching for Eco-Reps for the upcoming academic year! Returning and first-year students are welcome to apply. This position provides an excellent introduction into sustainability at Dickinson for first-year students and can help returning students become more involved.

The Eco-Reps Program coordinates students to serve as peer educators for sustainability in each residence hall. These students work to promote sustainable behaviors among residents, increase knowledge about sustainability, and provide a connection between the Center for Sustainability Education and Dickinson’s residential life experience. Eco-Reps ideally serve a one-year term and are assigned a residence hall, which they will monitor.

Eco-Rep duties include monitoring the recycling bins, emptying the compost, creating bulletin boards and other educational material about sustainability within their residence hall, hosting at least one event per semester to promote living sustainably, and attending bi-weekly Eco-Reps meetings.

  • HOURS: Successful Eco-Reps usually serve an average of three hours per week during the semester. Bi-weekly meetings are required.
  • COMPENSATION: This is a volunteer leadership experience.
  • QUALIFICATIONS: Strong candidates should be passionate about the concept and execution of sustainability on campus. No previous experience with sustainability at Dickinson is required.

To apply, fill out the form below and send it to  sustainability at dickinson.edu.

Eco-Reps Application 2014-15

Wrapping up!

The Eco-Reps term is coming to a close for the year. The Energy Challenge is over and so are all of our events. At this point, we are wrapping up the semester and finishing up some last minute things. One of these things is a tour of the biodiesel shop! A number of Eco-Reps expressed that they had never been before. The shop is a really cool project that I think a lot of people know we have, but don’t know anything about! So we are going to clear that up starting with the Eco-Reps.

Two of the shop interns will give us the the lowdown and show us what they do! I have been to the shop a few times, but even I have never gotten a full tour before so this is very exciting. We have invited the Athletic Eco-Reps and next year’s Eco-Reps as well! I think it will be a great way to end the semester.

Then all that’s left is our end of year party! ahhh It’s crazy to think how the time flies.



Eco-Reps Events

The Eco-Reps have been cruising on their events over the past few weeks. They have all been Energy Challenge related and we have had some serious successes.

The Adams event had over 60 people and the Drayer event had over 50!

The Eco-Reps have gotten super creative. One event involved making icecream by hand and another involved using the energy free- bike blender to make a smoothie!

Thanks for doing such a great job guys! In addition, the Energy Challenge winners will be announced at Relay for Life on Friday!! Get pumped.

Check out the photos page for pics from our events.


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Tidal Power in Puget Sound

By Jaime Rogers ’14
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently approved a pilot tidal project in Puget Sound, Washington. Tidal power harnesses the power produced in the regular tidal periods with turbines sitting in the water and turning as the tide comes in or goes out. The turbines then run generators that produce electricity.

Only two turbines would be installed in this pilot project, which is investigating the viability of tidal power for the Puget Sound area. This is by no means the first tidal power test area worldwide. In Maine on the Bay of Fundy, which famously has extremely large tidal ranges (50 feet or more!), turbines are being installed to provide a clean source of energy for the Town of Lubec and the City of Eastport. These tidal projects in the United States follow other tidal projects in European countries like Ireland.

There are potential drawbacks for tidal power, however. Many are afraid that the turbines will interfere with the migration of anadromous fish. There is also the fear that tidal ranges will be altered in some way, as well as the issue surrounding the depletion of fresh water access to the ocean, altering the salinity in the estuary.

When it all comes down to it, there are pros and cons to tidal energy just like there are for every other type of energy. There is no such thing as a free lunch and we’re going to have to pick and choose what we’re willing to sacrifice in order to provide energy for our ever-increasing demand.

Energy Challenge- Week 1

We are in the middle of the second week of the Energy Challenge and the results are out!

Congratulations to McKenny and Conway for taking an early and substantial lead!! You guys are doing a great job!

Everyone else: You still have time to catch up and win the $200 prize!

Other prizes you can win….Change your profile picture to match the CSE one, and tag yourself in it for a chance to win $25 gift certificate.

This challenge only works if we all take it on.  We have a chance to reduce our impact on the earth and we should take it.  If you are interested in the real time standings of your dorm check out the Lucid Dashboard.

We want to hear that your committed! Join us for the second half of the challenge!

This weekend we will be hosting a bonfire for Earth hour out on Morgan field! The a cappella groups will be there, the Peddler will be there, and we will have s’mores and good campfire fun! Looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday from 8:00-9:30!

week1 update


Join Us!!

CSE has put out applications to join the Eco-Reps for the Fall 2014 school year!

If you passionate about about working with others or about sustainability then considering joining the Eco-Reps team! We are a group of enthusiastic Dickinson students working hard to peer educate and inform students living in the residence halls about how to live more sustainably.  You will meet new people and develop leadership skills which are a great networking tool as well as an awesome addition  to your resume!

You would be in charge of attending bi-weekly meetings, maintaining residence hall compost, hosting sustainability- related programming, and acting as liaison between the residents and CSE.


Training is provided, so no experience necessary!

Check us out online to find out more about CSE student opportunities. To apply, submit your application and a copy of your resume to  sustainability at dickinson.edu by 5:00 pm on April 7th. 

If you have any questions about the program feel free to email the program supervisor, Lindsey Lyons at  lyonsli at dickinson.edu

We would love to have you!