Summit Gives Catawba student opportunity to help make better world

This article was originally featured in the Salisbury Post, July 7, 2011.

For Catawba student Sarah Moore, helping with the National Environmental Summit for High School Students at the Center for the Environment at Catawba College gives her experience planning a large event and the opportunity to ultimately help create a better world.

“We’re really wanting to teach these students that they can use their talents to make the earth a more sustainable place to live,” the Mocksville native said. “The more people that we can have promoting sound environmental practices in every discipline is an advantage to the world.”

If students are interested in music, science, acting, public speaking or social networking, for example, Moore said she hopes the summit will encourage them to use their talents to inspire people to love nature and help protect the planet. “We want them to see that they don’t have to be environmental majors to make a difference,” she said.

The Center — which is partnering with Rocky Mountain Institute on the summit — continues to receive applications for the July 20-24 event. The high school junior and senior participants signed up so far represent all four corners of the continental United States — Washington, Maine, Florida and California — as well as the North, Midwest and South.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors, the cost is only $150 per student, including the $50 registration fee, and that is refundable if the student attends the summit. The fee includes room and board, food and all activities.

Participants will be housed in Abernathy Village, a complex of five residence halls on the Catawba College campus which are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. The majority of the summit will take place on Catawba’s 190-acre ecological preserve and in the labs and classrooms of the Center for the Environment’s green facility.

Moore, a senior environmental education major at Catawba, was part of a recruitment team of students and former students that visited 140 high schools in 21 counties promoting the summit. In addition, she said they called 94 schools in their recruitment effort.

After completing her junior year at Catawba, Moore, who is from Mocksville, started working at the center full time to help with the summit. She was involved in hiring 11 counselors for the event, including current and former Catawba students.

As part of the summit, 15 Catawba College faculty members representing a variety of disciplines and scientists from Rocky Mountain Institute will be offering small group sessions for participants.

Center for the Environment staff has been working for months on the summit. “My biggest role is going to be getting the counselors trained and organizing the students in a manner that’s going to make it easier to move throughout the campus,” Moore said. For example, she is working on participant notebooks, which will include a map of the campus, a schedule of programs and events and other useful information.

In addition to the educational elements, Moore said the summit will feature such fun activities as an observatory night, a band, night hikes in the preserve, an on-campus water park night, movies on the lawn and a barbecue. From the time they arrive on the Catawba College campus until they leave, participants will have plenty of chances to learn, create, share, interact, grow, connect and build relationships.

As for her future, Moore said helping with the summit has broadened her own career plans from focusing on field work in the environment to considering working for nonprofit environmental groups. After graduation next spring, she plans on applying to graduate school to earn a master’s degree in international environmental policy.