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Blog posts by jamie

INsight Series

During the last week of March, Local First held their first INsight Series at a local brewpub and restaurant. On March 25, Brewery Vivant kicked off INsight’s first series ever! Local First’s INsight purpose is to provide “an interactive contemporary forum for entrepreneurs to network, exchange ideas, and speak candidly about business ownership and leadership at a personal and professional level.” The INsight Series is open to the community, business professionals, and students.

Aside from an internship, Aquinas business students should also try to attend forums and presentations such as these. As dedicated students, we spend most of our time in class or working on school assignments and projects. We can only read and write so much until we feel the need to interact and practice our skills in the real world. Why not make those interactions beneficial for both our studies and careers? Attend Local First’s INsight Series and you will learn how to engage with a variety of local professionals and business owners. This is the perfect opportunity for students to put their classroom skills into action!

Brewery Vivant owner and suitability leader, Kris Spaulding, led the luncheon presentation with a post Q&A discussion. Kris focused on the following key areas: how to make a sustainability program a success in your business, how to get staff on board with the program, and the importance of assessing, reporting, and evaluating business progress. After the presentation, Kris offered INsight-ful advice for the business professionals. Whether you ask a question or not, we all learn form each other at events like these. I learned that some businesses are having trouble getting a sustainability team started in their offices while others were having trouble with assessing and reporting. Kris not only offered answers to the questions during the discussion, but also stayed after to talk one-on-one with those who desired specific guidance.

The next INsight Series will be held at Aquinas College on April 23. The series starts at 12:30pm and ends at 5pm with reception. The Aquinas Center for Sustainability offers free student passes for students each month. You should take advantage of this! For more information contact Jessica Eimer at Jessica.Eimer@aquinas.edu or Hanna Schulze hanna@localfirst.com.

Keeping Bees Club

In the beginning of January, Aquinas’s Keeping Bees Club met regularly on campus and with diverse local community organizations and members to plan an educational film event. As a club we decided to collaborate with the West Michigan Environmental Action Committee (WMEAC) since they have an environmental film series already established. The movie we chose, Vanishing of the Bees, is about the Colony Collapse Disorder: a mysterious disappearance of the honeybee across the planet. Vanishing of the Bees is filmed in many countries and follows commercial beekeepers, scientists, researchers, and educators during their journey to save the bees.

The Keeping Bees club members gained support from not only one of the film directors, Maryam, but also WMEAC, Grand Rapids UICA, Fredrick Meijer Gardens, Grocer’s Daughter Chocolates, Field and Fire Bakery, DoTerra essential oils, Beyond Pesticides, and local expert beekeepers. We spent days posting up flyers around Grand Rapids at appropriate businesses, events, and schools to help glow our social media promotions.

The event attracted over 150 people of all ages and interests. In addition to the donations WMEAC receives for the film, our club raised over $350 dollars. This money goes directly towards our beehive equipment to start the apiary. Our table’s purpose was to educate the community about what we are doing at Aquinas and how each individual has an array of opportunities to learn and take action in nearby neighborhoods, which are reliant on the honeybees.

AQ’s Keeping Bees designed and sold t-shirts made locally in East Grand Rapids. In addition to hand outs and educational readings, we offered copies of the documentary, raffle tickets for our drawing, and Linda’s organic DoTerra Essential oil honey scrubs and lotions.

The pre-party social started at 6:00pm, with the film starting at 7:00pm followed by a panel discussion/Q&A with a local expert beekeeper, Mike Risk and a local farmer. The audience’s questions all addressed serious issues regarding today’s regulations, agricultural practices, and of course, the bees. By the end of the night Keeping Bees, WMEAC, the UICA, and DoTerra all benefited from the film and the strong community support. Keeping Bees is now organizing for their next event at Aquinas on Earth Day. If you want to learn more or join the club at Aquinas check out our webpage www.keepingbeesaq.org and join our Facebook page: AQ Keeping Bees!

Sustainable Business at Aquinas College

Did you know Aquinas College is the first college to offer an undergraduate Sustainable Business degree? AQ’s Sustainable Business program attracts a diverse pool of students across the nation. Although Aquinas was my college of choice because of the direct nursing program, within just a few weeks my major changed to Sustainable Business. The unique combination of courses in the various areas of environmental sciences, sustainability, and business caught my attention.

By the end of my freshman year I was seeking new ways of how to be more involved in sustainability on campus and within the Grand Rapids community. I did my research and quickly found that Aquinas supports many environmentally conscious businesses and organizations such as LEED, the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, and the West Michigan Environmental Action Committee. These organizations often offer conferences, guest speaker lectures, and monthly meetings. These events are almost always open to the public and Aquinas students. Whenever we get a chance, the sustainable business students attend these events to learn how their studies are put to action through new and upcoming business techniques and performances. These conferences have helped me practice my professional communication skills and have provided me with opportunities to network with local business owners. The past two years I attended WMEAC’S Women and the Environment symposium and this year I am putting together a follow up luncheon on campus for students. Aquinas holds conferences on campus as well, such as the Local First Sustainability Conference and the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum monthly meeting. Both of these conferences had guest speakers who generously offered each student with a free copy of their book!

If you are thinking about enrolling in the Sustainable Business program you should also try to attend these events and join our clubs! The club S3 stands for Students Striving for Sustainability and works closely with the Center for Sustainability. This club is working on our campus’ zero waste initiative and offers many opportunities to volunteer and be a part of fun events on campus. The club Keeping Bees welcomes students of all majors and has a mission to create awareness of the importance of the honeybee and our reliance on insect pollination. The club attends beekeeping workshops and is putting together a big film event with WMEAC, the UICA and many vendors. The goal is to have an on campus apiary or bee yard for student research by 2015.

The New Year

Have you ever thought about the number of cultures and traditions celebrated around the world during the New Year? To me, the thought of New Year’s brings back memories of big celebrations with fancy hats, glowing glasses, food, drinks, music and, of course, the big count down to midnight. Most people celebrate the New Year with family and friends. People take the time to recall fond memories of the past year and give thanks for all the happiness and joy shared throughout the past year. The last day of the year is a time for self-reflection and celebration with the some of the people who helped your past year’s goals become possible. The New Year is also a symbol of new beginnings and I set new goals and ambitions for myself as a student, friend, sister, and daughter.

In high school my friends and I would go out to multiple parties and celebrate with all our friends. It was a time of over indulgence, staying up late, and laughter. On January 1st we would sleep in late and have brunch together before returning home to our families. My New Year’s Days were spent lounging around the house with my sister watching movies, playing games, and cleaning out our room while my mom would cook a big Italian feast.

This year, however, my New Year’s Evecelebration was relaxing.   I decided to join my dad’s side of the family for a night of laughter, games, and good conversation by the fire with my family.  My uncle, a brilliant Italian chef, made a six course meal until midnight. We were all exhausted from laughter by 1:00am and shared good rest. We woke up the next morning to the smell of coffee and breakfast casserole and I realized this was something I missed while I was 200 miles away at school. This was the first year I wrote in my journal about memories and highlights of year 2013. This was the first year I made a list of all the people and things I was thankful for. This was the first year I wasn’t wearing a dress, but instead snuggly clothes.

This year I started out 2014 relaxed, refreshed, and ready to be ALIVE in 2014! New Years day was celebrated with friends from home. We exchanged New Years Eve stories and lounged around catching up about the fall semester and our 2014 goals. Stay tuned for my first Aquinas Spring 2014 experience!

August Days

Some students anticipate August as the month they move back to school, attend classes, cheer at sporting events, and re-kindle friendships on campus. There are some students, however, who would rather enjoy just a few more weeks of summer bliss. I admit it; I would prefer just a few more weeks! Although I was looking forward to participating in campus events with friends, all I wanted was a few more quiet weeks of my summer landscaping job and enjoying spontaneous camping trips. But this year I thought: I will coax myself into feeling content, and be fully present while sitting inside the Academic Building during class on those hot summer days in August. I reminded myself that the garden and dirt will still be there after class; the weekends will come soon enough for camping, concerts, and fun.

The first few weeks of August I committed myself to riding my bicycle through campus once a week. During these bicycle rides, suddenly, everything I was bothered by evaporated. The campus was peaceful as I rode through and I couldn’t help but recall past AQ memories. These memories were so reassuring and uplifting and I remembered why I loved being on campus in the first place.
One day, as I approached the street leading off of campus, I found myself thinking: not only are the people at Aquinas openhearted towards each other, but as students we also welcome the outdoors and the nature God blessed us to live with everyday. The campus was truly quiet and peaceful on these bicycle days, but in a way, the squirrels and trees were still whispering their kind words to me.
Whoever it was guiding me through Aquinas on my bicycle during those early August days helped me realize how fortunate we all are here. As students of Aquinas College, our professors, faculty and staff always put our education, well-being, and aspirations first. The awareness of community at Aquinas College touches my heart, mostly because I know it will forever be with each of us in our own unique ways.

This year, the week before classes began I was as eager as an incoming student starting their first day of college. I could hardly wait to sit outside the Moose Café between classes, typing up an assignment under the August sunshine.

BEE the change at AQ

Are you aware of how versatile honey is? Not only will the diverse flavors have your taste buds stimulated, but also the practical uses can provide warmth. The beeswax collected during the honey extraction can be melted down and used to blend candles, salves, and lip balms. When I think of honey, I think of the words ‘life-force’. The honeybees work in a complex systematized way to produce the honey in their pitch black, hot, and crowd hives. Warm up this winter and join the Keeping Bees club at Aquinas. This semester we are focusing on the knowledge, techniques, and structures required to maintain a beehive. We want to create awareness not only at Aquinas but also in the surrounding areas.

This past spring I met Anne Marie Fauvel at a Bee Keeping workshop at Tree Huggers, a local store that sells recycled, organic, locally made and fairly traded goods. Anne Marie lectured to a diverse group of Grand Rapids community members about the Colony Collapse Disorder, benefits and reliance on bees, and the basics on how to co-habitat bees, specifically how to raise bees in a backyard or urban setting. After finishing countless numbers of honey jars and reading about bees I decided it was time to meet the beautiful creature making all this possible: the queen bee. I reconnected with Anne Marie who is also a biology professor at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI which is about twenty minutes away from Aquinas. Before I knew it, I was on the road to GVSU with Clark Danderson, an Aquinas biology professor, for the summer season honey extraction. (We also found a blueberry patch on the way!) After walking onto GVSU’s campus, we followed the sweet perfume of honey to find Anne Marie and the members of the West Michigan Beekeepers Association. Dr. Dandereson and I were quickly suited up, smoker in hand, identifying the queen bee, drone bees, and worker bees.

It was because of my experience at GVSU that I decided to start the Keeping Bees club at Aquinas, and Anne Marie has offered us valuable resources, tools, and networks. Keeping Bees is currently in its beginning stages of educating and raising awareness at Aquinas. Keeping Bees anticipates to further develop and maintain the connection with GVSU and most recently, Calvin College. This past week I connected with Calvin’s geography professor Jason Vanhorn, who is working with over thirty students sharing a united mission to save the bees. By spring 2014 we will start fundraising and we hope to raise enough funds by summer 2014 to build an on campus apiary or bee yard.

Would you like to join the Keeping Bees club? Build new friendships and inform others all about the buzz on campus.

Keeping Bees has blossoming goals for Aquinas! Learn more by contacting:

President: Jamie Sansone
Vice President: Janie O’Donnell
Secretary: Kelsey Cotton
Treasurer: Chuck Hyde
Advisor: Dr. Danderson

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