By Jessica Stamp
On Friday, Sept. 24, Youngstown State University Legacy Forests took part in a global march for climate change action on campus. The event is meant to bring awareness to YSU’s investment portfolio in fossil fuels and to get students interested in making a change for better sustainability.
“We’re here in a gathering of students to demand that YSU works to help resolve the climate change issue as well as invest in sustainable portfolios because it’s a bit of uneasiness where they invest,” Katherine Donnachie, senior environmental science and geography major and member of Legacy Forests, said.
Donnachie said Legacy Forests are attempting to bring recognition to students in regard to what YSU is investing in. The organization is trying to get the university to behave in a more sustainable direction.
“Whether it be more green infrastructure on campus, introducing more renewable services especially energy, waste and transportation — there is a lot more YSU can be doing,” Donnachie said.
Legacy Forests wants to educate students on sustainable techniques that they can research and then apply to YSU. Student sustainable involvement can also help YSU’s status as a Tree Campus USA by the Harper Foundation.
Tree Campus USA is a program that honors universities for their effective campus forest management.
“We, the students, advise YSU that if we were to spend our money here as customers, then the school institution, they should follow what we actually learn here, which is climate change is real,” Donnachie said. “We need climate action, social, political and economic change in that direction to have a greener future and to have a healthy planet for all, especially for our grandchildren.”
Colleen McLean, associate professor in physics, astronomy, geology and environmental science, helped establish Legacy Forests along with other professors in 2019. In fall 2020, the group was able to plant over 600 trees in one day in Youngstown. This year, the group wants to expand its outreach and educate the student body more about climate activism.
“I’m really happy the students are participating. It’s their future, so for them to take an active role and being part of a global initiative is really special, and I’m really proud of it,” McLean said.
Abby Shoenfelt, junior environmental science major, joined the protest and wanted to have her voice heard about climate change.
“We’re destroying our Earth and if we don’t do something drastic in the next seven years, we will reach a point of no return and that’s really important,” Shoenfelt said.
Shoenfelt believes everyone should be getting involved in climate change action.
The march started in Moser Hall’s lobby, where recycled material was used to make signs advertising for a better future. Next, the group painted the Rock outside of Kilcawley Center to express what fossil fuel investments mean to them. The group then marched around campus to Tod Hall to spread the message of climate change action.
Those who are interested in learning more about the Legacy Forests can find the group on Instagram at YSULegacyForests.