Call For RUrbanPioneers Community Gardeners!

SCH Garden

My name is Mary Rasic and I am a Sustainability student and Environmental Sustainability Associate for Physical Resources Department at Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg campus.

I am coordinating Roosevelt University’s RUrbanPioneer Community Garden for the 2015 growing season. This is our third year and we are excited to get started.

Everyone interested in access to fresh, organic produce is welcome to participate. Garden members tend their own garden and participate in community tasks from early spring through November.

Last year, we installed a drip irrigation system making each plot customizable to suit individual gardeners’ needs. We continue to learn and experiment with procedures, techniques, and equipment to make for a sustainable gardening. We’d love to hear your suggestions to improve upon previous seasons.

Please let me know if you’re interested in reserving a plot ASAP – assignments will be given on a “first-come-first-serve” basis.

Our goal is to finalize plot assignments by March 20th.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at Mrasic02@roosevelt.edu if you have any questions.

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IAEP Student Career Conference @ DePaul University

On Saturday, January 24, 2015, The Illinois Association of Environmental Professionals (IAEP) hosted its annual Student Career Conference at DePaul University, Chicago, IL.

The IAEP is a society of professionals who work unswervingly to enhance our global environment. It serves to connect specialists in business, government and education in the fields of environmental planning, research, management, and evaluation. The society also offers certificate programs and awards research grants to students enrolled in environmental programs.

The purpose of the IAEP Student Career Conference is to deliver information about the benefits of professional organizations and internships, and teach the next professional generation how to network and build a CV/resume.

Versatile students from several colleges near Chicago, had the opportunity to network, explore career options within various sectors, and get a personalized resume review from each of the following speakers:

Robert P. Sliwinski, M.S. CPESC – Senior Wildlife Biologist, Christopher B. Burke Engineering Inc. and President of the Illinois Association of Environmental Professionals

James E. Huff, P.E. – Owner of Huff & Huff, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.

George P. Nassos – Principal of George P. Nassos & Associates, a consulting company focusing on renewable energy and environmental sustainability

Mary Rasic, Sustainability Studies student at Roosevelt University, attended the IAEP Conference and reported back with optimistic reflections. The main takeaway was Dr. Nassos’ discussion concerning why sustainability should be more of a culture, imbedded in the business and politics of our country. From his lecture, Mary noted that most corporations focus on 3-month economic returns, whereas, sustainability has more long-term investments. The global economy, namely the U.S., needs a business strategy for natural resources by employing sustainability in business courses. Nassos proposed some ways that the government could regulate our resources, such as, applying a carbon tax to influence entities to conserve and explore alternative energy sources.

Dr. Nassos concluded his lecture on a powerful note – he said that there are many individuals who do not believe in global warming. Worse yet – there are people that consider it a possibility, but disregard the evidence because they likely won’t be around for the repercussions. Nassos’ response to that viewpoint:

“Say nothing happens, carbon emissions are a hoax and the world will be fine…But say that all the scientific predictions are accurate… wouldn’t you rather contribute to the solution while the opportunity exists instead of later regretting what you didn’t do, when it’s too late”?

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22 Ash trees removed from Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg campus

Removed Ash Tree - SCH

Over winter break, The Care of Trees removed 22 Ash trees from Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg campus, due to the Emerald Ash Borer. The trees were pulverized into mulch and will be reused on campus, as doing so will conserve soil moisture, impede weed growth, reduce soil erosion, limit salt build-up, protect plant roots from traffic, moderate soil temperatures, and improve soil fertility and structure.

Environmental Sustainability Associate and Sustainability student, Mary Rasic, is presently working with arborist and landscape expert, Bill Bedrossian, to select native replacements for many of the removed trees. Roosevelt plans to purchase various replacements from Possibility Place Nursery, because they specialize in growing native trees and shrubs that are indigenous to Northern Illinois. Ninety percent of their plants’ seed are collected in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa; therefore, they are better adapted to the Chicago climate than plants grown from seed collected further east and south.

Possibility Place Nursery does not use chemicals (such as copper), insecticides, miticides, or fungicide sprays. They do use post- and pre- emergent herbicides and organic fertilizers. After seeds are collected, they are taken through several growing steps in a system that encourages fibrous roots. Seeds are put in flats with wire bottoms, and then placed on benches with wire tops. As the seed germinates, the roots grow through the wire into air. The root tips dry out and die. This encourages the production of more roots. The seedling is then placed in half pints that mechanically direct the roots toward air holes. Roots grow through the air holes, and the root tips again dry out and die. Finally, the plants in half pints are then planted in gallon containers to repeat the process again. A fibrous root system is key to the establishment of vigorous growth of a plant. A tree or shrub with a fibrous root system not only transplants well but thrives.

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Springtime, is a busy time!

While everyday in the Physical Resources Department is a busy day, Springtime presents an especially busy and exciting time! Although it can still be a bit nippy out at the start of the season, lots of changes take place and several events occur that make up for the cold and pursuant, yet disappearing cold. Earth Week and Bike2Campus Week, both during the week of April 19th-25th, are two big events that occur during this season, and they are both open to the whole RU community for participation. Last year was more laid back then this year will be, as we have great ideas and ambition for 2015. While brainstorming has started for what Earth Week/ Bike2Campus events will look like, ideas and suggestions are more than welcome. Not only that, but it is important to hear what students, faculty, and staff would be interested in doing and would like to see, as these events are set up for that very audience.

Bike2Campus lasts the whole week and is open to everyone. This event takes place during Earth Week to encourage sustainability and, more specifically, bike riding to and around campus. Prizes are awarded to those who ride their bikes the most during that week.

As for the rest of the day-to-day Earth Week events, there are many ideas floating around. One idea is to have a RU Wabash Rooftop Garden Planting Day. Last year was similar in this regard, as we had two planting days on the rooftop. It is a wonderful way to relax and unwind a little before the week of finals and graduation. Additionally, there has been talk about a film screening day. There are several dozen films to choose from, but it would essentially be a documentary of some type, focused on sustainability. Better yet, we are aiming to get a quest speaker there to lead a panel discussion after the screening! Lastly, we want to do potential workshop days that involve planting and repurposing, and a possible competition with prizes for the most sustainable participants. Again, these are just ideas though and what we really want to know is: what would you like to see happening during that week?

Check out this blog post from Spring of 2014: Earth Week and Bike2Campus Week, What?!

If you have any ideas, feel free to email Environmental Sustainability Student Associate Rebecca Quesnell at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu, or stop by the Physical Resources Department in Wabash B16.

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Great Success for Rooftop Garden Meeting Kickoff

Rooftop Garden Pics 007

On Friday, November 7th, Environmental Sustainability Student Associate Rebecca Quesnell, in collaboration with Roosevelt University’s Physical Resources Department, hosted the first Wabash Rooftop Garden planning meeting of its kind. The meeting was developed in an attempt to involve the RU community, which includes faculty, staff, and students, in the Rooftop Garden planning for Spring ’15. The meeting was a huge success considering it was the first of its kind and a total of six were present at the meeting. Several others have expressed interest in getting involved with the planning for this coming Spring as well, so as of now there are about a total of twelve individuals interested. This is wonderful considering that student associates come and go and graduate. If there is more RU community involvement, we can have a strong garden just as the one out at the Schaumburg campus is.

This initial kickoff meeting included briefly going over background information on the garden, as well as delving into the focus for Spring of ’15, which then lead into a group discussion, and ended with next steps for the garden. Wonderful ideas and suggestions were brought up during the meeting, and it is very exciting to know that involvement is already flourishing for this coming year. One major idea that was brought up during the meeting revolved around starting the plants indoors. This past Spring was cooler than it was warm and plantings were done early in the Spring due to certain circumstances. As such, it cannot hurt to start the seedlings inside and then transplant them when the weather warms up so that there can be optimum success with the garden this coming year!

If you have any interest in getting involved with the garden, please feel free to contact myself, Rebecca Quesnell, at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu, or feel free to stop by the Physical Resources Department in Wabash B16.

To check out another recent blog post on the Wabash rooftop garden, check out the following link:
https://rooseveltgreencampus.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/spring-involvement-with-the-wabash-rooftop-garden/

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Spring Involvement with the Wabash Rooftop Garden

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The weather is convincing us that it is now Fall time, which means bundling up more and more, hot soup, hot chocolate, pumpkins, and more. But even so, this should not hold us back from thinking ahead, on how we want the Wabash Rooftop Garden to look this coming Spring of ’15. We learned a lot about what can and cannot grow up on the fifth floor due to certain temperature, sun, soil, and water-related conditions and requirements. As such, we can take that gained knowledge and apply it to the garden as we go into its third functioning year. One focus, aside from getting production for this coming year, is to expand involvement with the garden. With this in mind, outreaching has to start now. There has already been interest from some faculty, staff, and students, but we at the Physical Resources Department within Roosevelt University would like to expand that outreach even more!

Brainstorming has already started, and includes such ideas as including more flowers (both those which are beneficial to the biodiversity of the garden, as well as those which would add some color to the garden); starting more of the vegetables and flowers indoors; and including/ focusing on more vegetables and herbs that the dining center will use (especially basil!). Those currently involved in planning are hoping to hold a meeting, in which to collaborate and brainstorm together, within the next couple weeks, and invite and encourage those who are interested in helping with this process to attend (find out details by emailing Rebecca Quesnell at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu).

Whether you would like to help brainstorm, learn more, or get signed up for helping plant next Spring, involvement is, again, welcomed and encouraged.

If you have any such interest, please feel free to contact myself, Rebecca Quesnell, at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu, or feel free to stop by the Physical Resources Department in Wabash B16.

To check out any of the blog posts on the Wabash rooftop garden, check out the following links: https://rooseveltgreencampus.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/wabash-rooftop-garden-efforts/

https://rooseveltgreencampus.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/harvesting-begins-at-rus-wabash-rooftop/

https://rooseveltgreencampus.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/broccoli-sage-chive-blossoms-and-thyme/

https://rooseveltgreencampus.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/production-on-the-wabash-rooftop-garden/

https://rooseveltgreencampus.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/wabash-rooftop-garden-benefits-within-and-beyond/

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Roosevelt University’s Physical Resources Department has developed a Strategic Tree Replacement Plan for the Schaumburg Campus in 2015!

Photo by Mary Rasic
Photo by Mary Rasic

Photo by Mary Rasic

Building upon Roosevelt University’s, Schaumburg campus’ sustainable landscape and recent Level I Arboretum Accreditation, the Physical Resources Department has developed a strategic tree replacement plan for 2015. Our goal is to rehabilitate the local ecosystem, improve food security, provide educational opportunities, and celebrate growing food for the benefit of all.

Some of you may have noticed that there are several dead ash trees along the main driveway at the Schaumburg campus. In part, that is because of the Emerald Ash Borer but it is also due to the islands they are growing in, which have stunted their growth.  As a result, a total of (22) Ash trees will be removed during winter break 2014. The stumps will be ground to mulch and reused on campus to deliver nutrients to the earth.

Environmental Sustainability Student Associate, Mary Rasic, is presently working with Bill Bedrossian of Bedrock Earthscapes, LLC to select native, non-ash tree replacements. The (22) replacements will be strategically selected and located to allow the young trees to flourish without competing with the existing plant life.

Furthermore, Bill and Mary are coordinating the design and development of a permaculture food forest. A food forest mimics a woodland ecosystem by substituting edible trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. The RU’s, Schaumburg Campus Food Forest will combine aspects of native habitat rehabilitation with 15-20 edible, semi-dwarf fruit trees.

This is a very exciting opportunity for us to capitalize on the Schaumburg campus’ landscape and hone in on the ecosystem services we would like to promote. Much celebration can be anticipated on Arbor Day 2015, as there are monumental transformations underway for the Schaumburg campus.

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