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Salem State Engages 1,400 During Earth Days 2024

Reflecting widespread concern about the climate crisis, Salem State again chose the theme “Climate Crises: Actions for a Just and Livable World” for Earth Days 2024. SSU engaged 1,400 students, staff, faculty, alumni, and members of the larger community in Earth Days lectures, films and events, with opportunities to reward student scholarship and creativity.

Participants explored issues including climate justice, sustainable landscapes, resilient coasts, sea level rise, legal climate action, and the nexus of art and activism expressed through dance. Salem State was particularly proud to co-host, with the Salem Alliance for the Environment, the film Inundation District along with remarks by Director David Abel. The almost 200 people who attended, including a large number of community members, learned about the implications of Boston’s decision to fund and develop the Seaport District, in an area extremely vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding.

Students had the opportunity to win cash prizes courtesy of the Tefferteller Foundation by participating in the Student Research Poster Contest or the Creative Writing Contest. Entrants in the latter wrote movingly about how climate change might affect their fictional grandchild in the year 2070. The top three winning writers read their reflections during the Awards Ceremony. Two classes of art+ design students created climate change-themed mini-golf holes for public play on the North Campus quad.

Friend of the Earth Awards

An Earth Days highlight was the award ceremony April 11th which honored three recipients with Salem State’s annual Friend of the Earth Award. Salem City Councilor Jeff Cohen was recognized for his long-standing dedication to advancing local climate solutions such as Salem’s Green Building and Urban Agriculture Ordinances. In an acknowledgement that climate work is energized by the work of many, the Earth Days Planning Committee chose to recognize the Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition. MYCC is an organization of local groups connecting and empowering young people to advocate for the science-based, equitable and just climate policies needed to anchor a thriving world. Several high-schoolers and teens spoke passionately about their dreams to accelerate change. The first recipient of the newly established Student Friend of the Earth Award program was Salem State University junior Brielle Laurent who has been active in initiatives relating to sustainable landscape, food, farming, upcycling consumer goods, and voting.

Friend of the Earth

  • Salem City Councilor Jeff Cohen
  • Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition

Student Friend of the Earth

  • Brielle Laurent ‘25

Research Poster Competition

  • First Place, Using UAVs to Analyze Tree Health & Characteristics in Greenlawn Cemetery by Cat Canavan, Jackie de Haan, Laura Swindell, and Jayden Barton
  • Second Place, Dirty Water, Dirtier Surfaces:  How Combined Sewer Overflows Impact Communities by Zachary Ramsey
  • Third Place, Haiti's Water Crisis and the Dajabon River Canal by Rodnicha Jean Baptiste
  • Fourth Place, Presence of Microplastics in the Body by Jessie Wilson

Written Reflection

  • First Place, Rowan Collins
  • Second Place, Alex Ruggiero
  • Third Place, Luiz Madrid
  • Honorable Mention, Elizabeth Dinan

Thank you to our sponsors:

  • Alpha Lambda Delta
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • First Year Experience
  • Provost's Office and Academic Affairs
  • Maguire Meservey College of Health and Human Services
  • Tefferteller Family Fund
  • Crowdfunding donors for Earth Days events

View photos of many of the events on social media:

  • Instagram: @sustainable_ssu
  • Facebook: Salem State Sustainability
Tara Gallagher
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