Sustainability is Service: Community Action 2016 at PEEC

team building in the woods
Posted on September 20, 2016

This September, of the more than 520 first-year students who took part in Community Action (CA), 144 members of the Princeton Class of 2020 participated with new CA partner, the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) and explored how engaging in the process of sustainability is service.

PEEC's mission is to advance environmental education, sustainable living, and appreciation for nature through hands-on experience in a national park.

art made from trash PEEC 1's "Trash Lord"
students and trash art PEEC 4 and the winning "TigerScope" now on display in Frist Campus Center

When asked about the inaugural CA program at PEEC, Executive Director, Jeff Rosalsky '85 said: “It was a true pleasure having the Community Action first-year students at PEEC this fall. The program, with its focus on sustainability, truly establishes the foundation for thinking about sustainability issues and public service during their time at Princeton and beyond.  The recycled art project was one of the many highlights.  In addition to the two winning sculptures (one went back to Princeton and one stayed at PEEC), one group turned recycled objects into clothing, which was modeled by a student, and another group did a performance art piece for all the students, complete with storyline and music."  

students canoeing PEEC 12 canoeing

Throughout the week, each PEEC group tackled a unique sustainability-related project, many of which will be housed as new exhibits in the EcoZone, a discovery room that includes examples of every day sustainability problem-solving as well as life-size examples of things found in nature like a beaver dam and eagle's nest. CA PEEC projects included: a River Crossing team-building game for the outdoor course, a demonstration green roof, water purification models, species identification on BioBlitz data, a comparative insulation project, and interactive trail components for the ADA compliant "Trail for Everyone".  Rosalsky said, "We look forward to using all the projects with middle and high school students who visit PEEC in future years.  I can’t wait to see what the Class of 2021 has in store for us next year.” 

insulation exhibit PEEC 2 and 3 created an insulation demonstration exhibit for the EcoZone
touch table PEEC 10's completed Touch Table. Now a part of the ADA compliant "Trail for Everyone".

In addition to their service projects, students engaged in various outdoor team-building exercises such as team-building and low-ropes courses and canoeing.

"At PEEC I learned that it's important to be sustainable for the sake of the environment and it's easy to be sustainable- it's a choice that you make," said Nicholas Persaud '20. "I enjoyed all the activities especially canoeing because I've never done it before and it was really fun."

Other students echoed their first-time experiencing the outdoors at PEEC. "I'm from Orange County so seeing all the green has been a really great experience and the stars are something I've never seen before," said Allison Harvey '20.

Check out this year's Community Action story on Storify or read more coverage of the program by Princeton University and the Pace Center for Civic Engagement.