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VIPP Field trip to the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council

Published: Monday, 05 Jun 2017
Author: VIPP
Department: Visiting International Professional Program

VIPP is excited to announce that we are offering a new course called "Ecology and Community," taught by our instructor Jessica DeForest. The course is built to develop leadership and communication skills while learning about basic environmental and urban planning issues. Students learn through hands-on experiences out of the classroom in the Lansing area's rain gardens, parks, rivers, and public utilities. There, students study successful efforts to clean local rivers while bringing the beauty of nature back to the urban environment. In this engaging course, students will use social media, blog posts, and other high-impact means of communication in order to raise awareness and support for important community projects.

The following news is written by our visiting scholar Dr. Fan Wenjing, lecturer at Hangzhou Normal University in China.

On May 22nd, scholars in VIP 465: Ecology and Community, a new VIPP service learning class, together with VIPP instructor Jessica DeForest, took a field trip to the East Lansing office of our community partner, the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council (MidMEAC).

MidMEAC executive director and our hostess, Theresa Lark, gave an informative introduction to current MidMEAC projects. MidMEAC is a non-profit organization which aims at turning environmental concern into action through education, advocacy, and volunteerism. The three important pillars of this organization that they look to promote are sustainable land use, clean air, and clean water. MidMEAC has developed a variety of events and services to accomplish their environmental protection goals, including recycling drives, valet bike parking services at local events, and organizing volunteers to test the water quality of local rivers and lakes.

Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council Executive Director Theresa Lark summarizes the "Three Pillars" of MidMEAC activism and advocacy: clean air, clean water, and sustainable land use.  

This summer, MidMEAC is supporting the ambitious, low impact plan of the Ingham County Drain Commissioner, Patrick Lindeman, to bring the Montgomery Drain into compliance with the Clean Water Act. The Montgomery Drain Project, which drains storm water from the Frandor Shopping Center and surrounding areas, will retrofit the current system by building rain gardens, bioswales, walkable parks, and water features that will provide wildlife habitat while dramatically reducing runoff of polluted water into the Red Cedar River.

The xeriscaped front yard of the MidMEAC and Michigan Energy Options East Lansing home.

MidMEAC shares an energy-efficient East Lansing house with Michigan Energy Options. Scott Durrett of Michigan Energy Options explained the passive and active solar energy features of the house, noting that the solar panels and shingles allow the house to generate 40% of the electricity it needs. The system was installed by Michigan Energy Options, which also provides energy audits and free or low cost energy efficiency services private homeowners in the area.

Mr. Durrett explained that, in addition to promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, the Michigan Energy Options house also demonstrates sustainability by xeriscaping their own front yard. Xeriscaping is the use of drought-tolerant, hardy plants to reduce the need for watering and other maintenance.

Energy Efficiency expert Scott Durrett shows students how the Sun's energy gets converted into energy for household use.

VIPP scholars enjoyed this field trip which expanded our knowledge of environmental protection and motivated us to put our concern into action. Watch for us while we are out-and-about in the Lansing area this summer as we partner with MidMEAC to protect the fresh water assets of this Great Lakes state.