Picture this: a gorgeous day, a buzzing crowd, and an electric atmosphere – that’s what I experienced at the Sustainathon event. And let me tell you, this was no ordinary event. This was a full-blown interactive learning experience. This event was supported by SGA government leaders and the biology students. The highlight of the event was undoubtedly the excited students who showed up. They were brimming with curiosity and enthusiasm, eager to learn and engage with the presenters on sustainability practices to environmental issues, the knowledge that was shared was simply mind-blowing.

David Panchenko, green shirt at right, enjoys the Sustainathon 2023 at STCC.

Although the preparation and execution of the event required a great deal of effort, I feel a strong sense of pride in having been a part of it. The purpose of this gathering was to unite the community in celebration of Earth Day 2023, with participation from several local high schools, as well as students from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, STCC, and Holyoke Community College. A total of 24 presenters, ranging from UMass professors to local organizations, contributed to the occasion, promoting awareness about crucial topics such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, greenhouse gas reduction, water conservation and protection, pollution reduction, sustainable building practices, and recycling. The event comprised three main components: a research competition, interactive presentations, and a call for action.

Indian Tradition Introduces Speakers

When the speakers were introduced there was an interesting tradition that I was unaware of. This is a centuries-old practice from India, where presenting a shawl to a guest is a way of showing great respect and admiration. So as you present this shawl to the guest, you can feel the weight of the tradition and the significance of the moment. You’re not just showing appreciation for their knowledge and expertise, but you’re also acknowledging the importance of their message and the impact it will have on the world.

David Panchenko

John Waite, the presenter that I was felicitating a shawl to, made his presentation on sustainable food systems in western Massachusetts. I understood that the food system here is diverse and vibrant, with a focus on sustainable practices, locally-sourced ingredients, and community involvement. Our region boasts a thriving farm-to-table movement, farmers markets, and numerous food cooperatives and community-supported agriculture initiatives. Another presenter Mark Protti explained that global sustainability efforts are crucial for conservation. This requires a coordinated effort to balance economic growth, social equity, and environmental protection, with a focus on preserving natural resources and mitigating the impacts of climate change. David King explained the effects of climate change on habitats and migratory bird populations. Dr. Laura Figueroa passionately emphasized the significance of pollinators in the context of climate change.

Mariachi Band Gets Students Dancing

The Mariachi band during lunch was amazing and they had the students dancing and brought a lively atmosphere to the event. 

Mariachi band at the Sustainathon 2023

There were numerous other activities as well that the students joyfully participated in, such as hula hooping competition and a limbo competition, in which the winners won prizes. Another event the students enjoyed was the throwing of candy. Many students jumped from their seats to attract the attention of the volunteers who were throwing the candy, so they could catch candy for themselves as well. In conclusion, this event successfully united our community to raise awareness of the environmental challenges we face and to promote sustainable solutions. By coming together and learning about the ways we can take strong climate action, we were inspired to do our part to ensure a healthier and more sustainable future for our planet.