Students may have heard of the EcoReps student organization before, but after its leadership graduated in the 2019 Spring Semester, the club is getting a makeover.
EcoReps is an Ohio University student organization seeking environmental outreach opportunities, such as waste reduction and energy conservation, for OU students as well as broadening the scope of environmental conversations for those already passionate about the environment and those who don’t know a lot about it.
Liam Walker, a junior studying environmental biology, is the president of EcoReps and can’t wait to get the organization officially started.
“We’re trying to do a mix of both activities and panels,” Walker said. “I want it to be team-driven, where we have a few meetings just talking and figuring out what to do with the organization, like what events or steps we might want to take, and when we’re done planning, we can go out and do things. We want to make sure everyone is on board with everything.”
Walker got involved with EcoReps through his friend, Shayna Ritchey, a sophomore studying communication studies. Ritchey is the vice president and treasurer of EcoReps and knew Walker would be the best candidate for president.
“I was trying to look for a club that could get me more active in sustainability and involved on campus,” Ritchey said. “I thought EcoReps would be the best option, and our advisor emailed me and said all of the leadership positions had graduated and said we could take the classes to become leaders of the club.”
Walker and Ritchey were required to take one class to become leaders of the club. They both have been passionate about the environment for their entire lives, so it seemed natural to begin getting involved with EcoReps.
For Ritchey, young environmental activist Greta Thunberg has been her main inspiration as well as her love for the outdoors. For Walker, growing up involved a lot of bonding with his parents outdoors through camping and hiking, but he also was deeply invested in nature documentaries.
“It’s hard not to feel a deeper connection with all of it, seeing what’s going on in the world,” Walker said. “I already have an affinity for nature and just want to do something about it. On top of that, I don’t know how anyone could be worried about the environment and what’s going on.”
Walker and Ritchey see the previous members and leadership graduating as a way to rebrand EcoReps. This past semester has been mostly about planning with their advisor and trying to create a complete set of goals for the organization.
Currently, their goal is to recruit more members, discuss as a team where they want to go with the organization and then link up with other organizations to better OU’s campus environment. They will not be charging member dues but will instead use members’ volunteering as a form of payment to the organization.
They’re looking to assist the university in divesting in companies who are not ready to utilize eco-friendly methods. However, both Walker and Ritchey commend OU for being progressive with aspects of sustainability like recycling.
Students believe clubs that help the environment are extremely important to have on campus.
Elanor Skees, a sophomore studying political science, believes everyone should take care of the environment.
“The environment is important because it’s our home, and we need to take care of it so we can continue to thrive as humanity,” Skees said. “It’s definitely an important club to be active with saving the environment and being informed about what’s going on.”
Walker and Ritchey agree with that and encourage students to join the club.
“If you don’t know what to do, your best bet is to start with your community and then go on to bigger environmental feats,” Ritchey said.
EcoReps has its last meeting of the year on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 8:15 p.m. in Tupper Hall room 005. Next semester, they will reevaluate their meeting time based on the members’ availability.
More than anything, Walker wants the organization to be for people who are extremely into the environment but also for those who see what’s happening to the earth and want to do something to help.
“I want to find something everyone can do at every level of extremity, whether that’s people trying to do something about environmental issues on campus, in Athens or broader,” Walker said.