The Student Environmental Management Association (SEMA), a new student organization at Boise State, took advantage of the beautiful weather Saturday to participate in spring clean-up at Discovery Park in Lucky Peak State Park.
Students helped to reestablish an eroded river bank, gather up fallen branches and organize picnic benches to ready the park for summer recreation. This service project is the first of many planned by the club.
SEMA was the brainchild of environmental studies students frustrated with some aspects of their program and looking to create opportunities for themselves and future students.
“Nine months ago the discussion started as a response to some of the things we saw as weaknesses in the program. Then of course you start sitting down and having these discussions and you start thinking, where can we actually go?” said senior Environmental Studies major Shaun Wheeler, director of SEMA. “Then you have to let it be malleable and all of the sudden we’re cleaning up a park. I mean, where it started and where it’s come are so completely different.”
The club has big plans, including the creation of several internships and potential Service-Learning connections. Their greatest goal is to repair and manage a riparian zone, an area where land meets a river.
“We get to try to manage it for, really, years. That will be a long-term project and so things like that are what we’re into, actual tangible kind of environments to apply your
studies,” Wheeler said.
Although created by environmental studies majors, the association is open to any and all students with an interest in sustainability, environmental protection or living “green.” According Joe Thiessen, junior environmental studies major and Internship Coordinator, the group hopes to become an interdisciplinary club.
“Our view of the environmental studies program and degree and what it is, it’s the communication between the biologist and the economist and the public and the scientists that are doing these
projects,” Thiessen said.
Other SEMA members would like to turn their focus to Boise State. Senior environmental studies major Christine Raininger would like to see some xeriscaping and native plants used on campus.
“I think that grass is really nice but it just takes a lot of water. There could be other things on campus because we are in an arid, desert climate,” Raininger said.
Christine Hummer, also a senior environmental studies major and internship coordinator, wants the organization to help raise awareness both on campus and in the community.
“We’re kind of the groundbreakers on getting the word out about the environmental studies program,” Hummer said. “I feel like my objective is to help people within the community gain a clear perception of our relationship that we have with the environment and how we impact it.”
The organization won’t be all digging and cleaning up. The association’s activity director, senior environmental studies student Russell Bridges, also has some fun in the works.
“Coming up we hope to do an Earth Day mini-festival, maybe on campus,” Bridges said.
Beyond helping give the environment a hand, SEMA members also assisted Lucky Peak State Park Ranger Loring Larsen, who was appreciative of the help.
“It’s fabulous having them come out, taking up a nice day in their spring,” Larsen said. “We can always use extra hands, especially around spring clean-up and we don’t have our summer staff on yet so any extra hands are really important to us.”
Any students interested in joining SEMA or getting more information can visit their Facebook page.