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SMC, IUSB tackle Earth Day together

Southwestern Michigan College’s Honors Program and environmental science students teamed up April 20 for “Earth Day Service Day” with Indiana University South Bend peers to beautify the banks of the St. Joseph River. This collaboration is one of many being pursued by the two institutions separated by only ​30 miles. Besides ​developing ​partnership​s​ by which SMC ​graduates can transfer ​seamlessly ​to IUSB, ​this shared commitment to the region's environment​​ could be further enhanced this fall with plans for a similar clean-up on the Michigan side of the state line.

SMC’s crew of 18, including Honors Program Co-Advisors Mark Pelfrey and Gary Franchy and science faculty presenters Deirdre Kurtis and Donna Courtney, enjoyed a beautiful sunny day. The idea for this collaborative celebration of the Earth and service came from conversations between Franchy and Pelfrey and IUSB Honors Program Director Dr. Neovi Karakatsanis, who welcomed participants along with IUSB Chancellor Terry Allison. Following presentations by Kurtis (Ecological Impacts of Invasive Species), Courtney (Invasive Species are a Costly Problem) and IUSB’s Deb Marr, associate professor of biology (Using Urban Landscapes to Support Biodiversity), the group got to work removing invasive plants such as honeysuckle, planting 20 eastern white pine trees and picking up trash in Veterans Memorial Park​. ​

“We are standing on the sacred land of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi who remind us they have always lived here and will forever live here,” Karakatsanis said. “We want to make this a regular event.”

Pokagon Band Natural Resources Manager Vic Bogosian, who gave an historical overview of the river flowing through “Ribbontown,” was joined by David Ferris, Pokagon Band DNR invasive species technician from Buchanan.

“SMC students have been environmentally conscious for 50 years, since Phil Locker was a student studying ecosystems,” SMC President Dr. David Mathews said about the event. Dr. Phillip L. Locker Jr. was a member of SMC’s 93-member first 1968 graduating class. Locker not only achieved his goal of becoming a dentist, the past president of the Alaska Dental Society practiced in Anchorage. A narrow basin of water across M-62 East opposite the Mill Pond at the base of Dailey Road was dubbed “Locker’s Pond” in SMC’s early days.

“This is a great example of public-private partnership in the way it blends the university and public space. This space feels very open to the community,” Aaron Perri, Executive Director of Venues, Parks and Arts for the City of South Bend said while planting a tree. “I played my first round of golf right about here.” The site occupied today by on-campus student apartments was Playland Park amusement park from 1925-1961 and later featured a nine-hole lighted golf course and a miniature golf course.

Other participants included Patty Fowler, Indiana Master Naturalist and Purdue Master Gardener, South Bend Venues, Parks and Arts, IUSB Sustainability Club and Sodexo Dining Services, which served lunch across the pedestrian bridge in housing’s community building.

IUSB Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Philip Iapalucci, who also helped plant, was SMC’s chief business officer from 2009-2011.

 “The college has always been part of making the community a better place,” Mathews said. “SMC is proud of what our students continue to do today.”

SMC’s crew of 18, including Honors Program Co-Advisors Mark Pelfrey and Gary Franchy and science faculty presenters Deirdre Kurtis and Donna Courtney, enjoyed an ideal sunny day. Welcomes were provided in the Education and Arts Building by IUSB Chancellor Terry Allison and Honors Program Director Dr. Neovi Karakatsanis, followed by presentations by Kurtis (Ecological Impacts of Invasive Species), Courtney (Invasive Species are a Costly Problem) and Deb Marr, associate professor of biology (Using Urban Landscapes to Support Biodiversity).

“We are standing on the sacred land of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi who remind us they have always lived here and will forever live here,” Karakatsanis said. “We want to make this a regular event.”

Pokagon Band Natural Resources Manager Vic Bogosian, who gave an historical overview of the river flowing through “Ribbontown,” was joined by David Ferris, Pokagon Band DNR invasive species technician from Buchanan.

“SMC students have been environmentally conscious for 50 years, since Phil Locker was a student studying ecosystems,” SMC President Dr. David Mathews said.

Dr. Phillip L. Locker Jr. was a member of SMC’s 93-member first 1968 graduating class. Locker not only achieved his goal of becoming a dentist, the past president of the Alaska Dental Society practiced in Anchorage. A narrow basin of water across M-62 East opposite the Mill Pond at the base of Dailey Road was dubbed “Locker’s Pond” in SMC’s early days.

“This is a great example of public-private partnership in the way it blends the university and public space. This space feels very open to the community,” Aaron Perri of the City of South Bend said while planting a tree. “I played my first round of golf right about here.”

Playland Park was an amusement park from 1925-1961. The site later featured a nine-hole lighted golf course and a miniature golf course occupied today by on-campus student apartments.

Other participants included Patty Fowler, Indiana Master Naturalist and Purdue Master Gardener, South Bend Venues, Parks and Arts, IUSB Sustainability Club and Sodexo Dining Services, which served lunch across the pedestrian bridge in housing’s community building.

Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Philip Iapalucci, who also helped plant, was SMC’s chief business officer from 2009-2011.

 “The college has always been part of making the community a better place,” Mathews said. “SMC is proud of what our students continue to do today.”