Group aims to help globe

The Environmental Science Student Organization, a student run environmental organization, plans to make Florida A&M University a participant of the nationwide event, “Focus the Nation.”

The event takes place Jan. 31., and will give civic organizations, K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning the opportunity to focus on global warming nationwide.

According to the event’s main Web site, over 1,000 institutions have signed up to be a part of the day. ESSO is taking necessary actions to build an interest in this day on FAMU’s campus.

Jaqueline Hightower, advisor of ESSO, said the primary goal of “Focus the Nation” is awareness through dialogue and instruction.

LaRae Donnellan, co-chair of FAMU’s Green Coalition, said members of ESSO and the FAMU Green Coalition would like teachers to participate in the nationwide “teach-in,” and seminars related to global warming during the event.

Hightower said teachers can participate by setting time aside in their class to discuss specific affects of global warming.

“The effects of climate change are far reaching,” Hightower said. “We have already begun to see the ecological impacts in the lost of the polar bears due to drowning and starvation. The social impacts are also wide spread [and] extended droughts have left some communities with no drinking water… extreme weather events such as hurricanes and flooding have already displaced thousands of families and taken the lives of countless.”

She added that due to these and many other potential catastrophic events associated with climate change, “we can not afford to wait any longer to have this dialogue.”

Donnellan and Hightower aren’t the only faculty members getting involved in the cause.

The Environmental Science Institute has also agreed to participate.

Elizabeth Lewis, a professor from the school of architecture, and Roscoe Hightower, a professor from the school of business and industry, have expressed interest in the cause.

“A lot of businesses are responsible for a lot of good and bad things that occur in the environment and business people should get in front of the curve rather than behind it,” said the SBI professor. “It is important to teach the importance of environmental issues to the 21st century business student.”

Hightower said he plans to incorporate environmental topics in all of his classes next semester.

Although “Focus the Nation Day,” on FAMU’s campus is hosted by ESSO, Donnellan said the FAMU Green Coalition is helping them promote the event. Donnellan plans to call the different deans at FAMU to bring “Focus the Nation” to their attention.

The organization is working on a brochure that will inform others on the purpose behind the event and will be available in different locations throughout campus.

Hightower said she is hopeful once they are complete, students will hear about the event and ask their teachers if they are aware of the “Focus the Nation” day.

“If their teachers are not aware, then students can give their teachers a brochure,” Hightower said.

One activity FAMU is hoping to host is the nation wide webcast about “Focus the Nation” and the environment, which will be shown Wednesday, January 30.

“We have not received the necessary approvals for hosting a webcast and we were not committed to showing the broadcast, but we are looking into it,” said the ESSO advisor.

Hightower also said they are still looking for sponsors to fund some of the planned activities, including potential costs associated with viewing the broadcast. She said they will “leave no stone unturned” in seeking sponsors to defray operating and other costs.

Members of the initiative have even reached out to student leaders in student government.

Student organizations will be asked to participate in “Green Games,” which are environmental friendly initiatives, such as park cleanups and recycling. “Green Games” will begin on the day of the day and continue for the remainder of the spring semester.

The organization with the most points will receive a cash prize. As of now the winning organization will be awarded $1,000. But organizers are hopeful they can bring the cash prize up to $5,000 instead.

Both Donnellan and Hightower said the organizations are hoping that teachers will agree to participate in the nation wide event before the Christmas holiday, so teachers can add the event to their 2008 syllabi.