YESS: To helping the Earth

By Samantha Smith

In preparation for Earth Day on April 22, Youngstown Environmental Sustainability Society hosted an Earth Day event and presentation April 18 at The Cove in Kilcawley Center.

This event is held every year by YESS to educate students about the importance of improving the environment.

Adriana Devitt, a senior environmental science and environmental engineering major, said YESS teaches students how they can live more sustainably and participate in local environmental organizations.

“We just want to try and educate the students about what is going on locally that they can contribute and participate [in]. It doesn’t take much out of their day to like, just drop off the recycling to the Green Team dumpsters,” Devitt said. “We want people to have a better understanding and better appreciation of where these things are coming from.”

Companies and organizations like the Green Team, the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District, Plant Ahead Ohio and Wild You had tables set up at the event to show students different ways to protect the environment.

Lola Lewis, president of Plant Ahead Ohio, explained how the organization contributes to sustainability efforts in the Mahoning Valley.

“We work with communities to plant trees in order to help with decreasing carbon dioxide in the air,” Lewis said. “We help in organizing planting events throughout the Mahoning Valley.”

Lewis also said it’s important to collaborate with others when making a difference for the environment.

“[Plant Ahead Ohio wants students to know] how important collaboration is. To also understand that, one of the best things to do is to put back. To be good stewards of the land and to man it, and to remember if we work together and collaborate, we can truly make a difference. That’s very important,” Lewis said.

Julie Bartolone, founder of Wild You, said her organization offers different programs and lets people reconnect with the outdoors.

“We offer all kinds of programming, our most popular is our nature school and nature preschool program,” Bartolone said. “We focus on nature-based education, getting people outdoors, reconnecting with nature.”

Lynn Anderson, a volunteer for Treez Please and paid staffer for SOBE Concerned Citizens, said Treez Please is another organization that plants trees with a special twist. 

“It’s an urban, reforestation program in Youngstown. We plant trees now that are primarily memorial trees and we have a collaboration with [Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation]. We’re going to plant some TreeCorp trees in the fall,” Anderson said.

Anderson also said the table had information about SOBE Concerned Citizens with phones for students to call companies like the Ohio EPA and take action against gasification businesses.

“We wanted the students to get active — so what we had is an action. An action today to stop SOBE — [Students] have been calling the Ohio EPA, and they’re demanding they stop issuing permits to gasification and pyrolysis businesses because they aren’t what we want,” Anderson said.

After students interacted with each table, a presentation from guest speaker Ben Price, a community organizer for Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, was held in the Bresnahan Suite of Kilcawley. 

For more information about YESS and its future events, visit its website.