December 01, 2009
"The Bioneers conference showed that dedication and creativity can produce some really incredible changes in the environment and in the communities where work is being done," said Knox College student Annika Paulsen, after traveling with some 60 other Knox students to the regional conference, held this fall at the University of Kentucky in Louisville. The students were accompanied to the conference by Peter Schwartzman, associate professor and chair of environmental studies.
Bioneers is a non-profit environmental organization with activities that include annual conferences broadcast to regional locations around the country. Paulsen said that the presentations at the 2009 conference showed "how anything is possible, and we are capable of making the necessary changes in our lifestyles to change the destructive environmental path that we are on."
This was the eighth time that Knox students and faculty have attended one of the regional Bioneers conferences. Arriving at the three-day-long event, students jumped off of their chartered bus and dashed into a hotel lobby. Not! This year, instead of rooming in a hotel or college residence hall, the Knox delegation camped in Jefferson Memorial Park, ten miles south of Louisville, where they hiked through the forest during the day and pitched tents at night. Sessions were held at the Planetarium at the University of Kentucky and attended by students and faculty from schools throughout the Midwest.
Several of Knox's "Bioneers" offered their impressions of the conference to the Galesburg newspaper The Zephyr:
Claudia Brooke, a sophomore from Ballwin, Missouri -- "I attended Bioneers this year for the first time. I learned little things, like pesticides, that would not take a lot of effort to change on a small scale like Knox. After going on a Dumpster Dive and seeing everything that could be recycled that was not, it made me wonder how much was being thrown away at Knox and how much that could be changed."
Victoria Kassabaum, a sophomore from St. Louis, Missouri -- "[Bioneers] gave me hope that there are people who really do want what's best for the world as a whole instead of what's best for them as an individual."
Emily Young, a sophomore from Rock Island, Illinois -- I learned more about Louisville and the surrounding area through local speakers. I now am much more informed on the controversy of Appalachian mountaintop removal."
Kaitlyn Duling, a firstyear from Paxton, Illinois -- "I heard talks and attended workshops on new ideas, such as sustainability in faith communities that helped me connect environmental issues with my own daily life. The works of Destiny Arts and the group from Chicago (LVEJO) opened my eyes to what young people are doing to make a difference."
Charlotte Leitzman, a senior from Pemberton, Minnesota -- "There was such a prevalence of personal stories -- stories of other communities; stories of struggle, fighting, winning, and pride; stories of heartache, pain, and loss... and underlying each story was a prevailing hope, a hope for change. And I think that's what Bioneers is about. Bioneers offers us a hope for change. Bioneers gives us not only inspiration but a way to use it."
Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 47 states and 48 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.
Photos by Po Ling Chan