To celebrate Earth Week the week of April 18, JMU student organizations planned several on-campus events to raise student awareness about sustainability, how to become more environmentally conscious and ways to get involved at JMU.

Organizations such as the Environmental Management Club (EMC), JMGrew, Madison Recycling, JMU Seed Library, GIVE, Food for Thought, Alternative Spring Break Program and the Sustainable Innovation Club participated in Earth Week events on campus. 

EMC President Lizzie Emch, a senior integrated science and technology (ISAT) major, has been involved with the organization since fall 2019. EMC enables students to further their understanding of environmental management and provides opportunities for students to participate in both environmental management and educational programs in the field.

Emch said the idea for creating Earth Week on campus began back in February after she and Elena Finelli, vice president of EMC and a sophomore geography major, attended a meeting run by the JMU Community Service Learning Center. Emch said several stakeholders and organizations from Harrisonburg, JMU, Staunton and Rockingham County attended the meeting to discuss the different plans for Earth Week. 

Following the meeting, Emch and Finelli said they became inspired as to how JMU could celebrate Earth Week.

“Instead of us just making one event, we just created Earth Week,” Emch said. 

In honor of celebrating Earth Week, EMC, along with other JMU environmental organizations, collaborated by tabling — table displays where students could come and learn more about the organizations — at Warner Commons on April 18, 19 and 21, creating a space for fun facts, trivia and ways to get involved at JMU to help spread awareness. These events and activities were all advertised to students on an Earth Week flyer.

Emch said tabling across campus would allow students to become more informed on the different organizations on campus and the ways in which they can become involved.

“We thought tabling would be the easiest and most beneficial because people are always outside,” Emch said. 

On April 20, JMU students could also check out the JMU Farmers Market on the Union patio —  another event advertised on the Earth Week flyer.

Finelli said that while using reusable water bottles and walking instead of driving are good examples of practicing sustainability, one of the best ways for students to learn about sustainability is to get involved on campus.

“The best way [to get involved] is joining all these organizations because you learn from other people,” Finelli said. “Seeing from your peers is the easiest and the best way to do it because you learn from other students.”

The events of Earth Week also extended into the weekend with ISAT Capstone presentations, gardening at Keister Elementary School and Staunton Earth Day Festival. Many students attended the Staunton Earth Day Festival on April 23  to participate in environmental activities, such as making seed bombs and bracelets from plastic bags. 

In a written statement to The Breeze, fifth-year Zoya Kirchner, vice president of Madison Recycling, said he believes it’s important to raise awareness during Earth Week. 

“Each person produces a large amount of waste throughout their lifetime,” Kirchner said. “Any changes are meaningful and can make an enormous difference. This planet is our only home; it treats us with love and cares for us. It is important that we do the same.” 

Madison Recycling is a student organization that works to spread awareness and education of recycling across campus. Members collect, sort and transport recyclables on JMU’s campus. The organization seeks to have members create a more sustainable campus by encouraging students to follow the three Rs of recycling: reduce, reuse and recycle.  

“It is well known throughout campus that JMU is terrible about recycling,” Kirchner said. “That was one of the reasons why our organization was created.”

According to the JMU Recycling and Waste Management website, JMU Facilities Management uses the 6Rs — rethink, reduce, reuse, repair or restore, redistribute and recycle — as a guiding principle towards waste.

Kirchner, Finelli and Emch all said they believe there’s still hope for the planet and that talking about climate change and raising awareness can bring attention to the global issue. 

“It’s a very scary topic,” Emch said. “If things don’t happen, and if we continue the things we are doing now, I don’t think there is going to be much of a future for us. But it does seem that our generation is pushing for a lot of change, and hopefully there is going to be even more push for it in the future.”

Contact Victoria Wray at For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.