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Axe Library offers Earth Day Virtual Challenge

 Nationally observed on April 22, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. To raise awareness and get the community involved, Pittsburg State University’s Library Services has issued the “2020 Earth Week Virtual Challenge.” The challenge started Saturday, April 18, and will run through Saturday, April 25. 

     The first Earth Day, held on April 22, 1970, marked a turning point for environmentalism. Millions of Americans, throughout the nation, gathered to take part in protests, sit-ins and demonstrations organized to inspire people to remember our responsibilities to protect the environment. In recognition of the power of that movement, President Richard Nixon and Congress responded with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, followed by enactment of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.  

     Pittsburg State participates annually in Earth Day events and activities. Even with concerns over Covid-19 forcing the shut-down, there are still plenty of activities people can do to celebrate. Pittsburg State Associate Professor, León Jorge, has developed the GooseChase scavenger hunt-style game-app to help students and community members stay involved with the Earth Day celebrations. 

     “As Learning Outreach Librarian, I look for opportunities to partner with student organizations or participate in community efforts,” Jorge said. “Typically, Library Services uses a scavenger hunt application for events with first year students, so this was a good extension of that.” 

     The goal of the Earth Week Challenge is to get people engaged with different elements of Earth Day and sustainability. 

     “It has been a gratifying experience to create a game that can connect people remotely in a fun, educational, and engaging way,” said Jorge. 

     Players can download the app. and play from anywhere. Most of the questions can be answered from home or from a stroll around the neighborhood. Jorge said it is a fun way to engage and learn about pollinators, recycling, and re-use. 

     “It is fun to see people engaging in different ways, from identifying recyclable materials at home, to coming up with Earth Day poetry, to enjoying nature,” Jorge said. “My goal was to create a broad range of engaging activities.” 

     In previous years, Pittsburg State University has participated in the city-wide sustainability events, shown recycled art displays in Axe Library, and held demonstrations in the Oval with instructions on how to grow Milk Weed. The GooseChase app provides a variety of fun and educational activities meant to teach both young and old about the environment and sustainability. 

     “It is fun to see a broad mix of participants. Some families and community members have really engaged with The Earth Day Challenge and taken to heart completing as many challenges as possible,” Jorge said. 

     The GooseChase games cover an array of topics including, “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind,” “Garden Zen,” and “Milkweed and Butterflies,” just to name a few. 

     “I am particularly fond of the Monarch Butterflies and conversations about helping with their habitats,” Jorge said.     

     Planting Milkweed helps to support Monarch Butterfly habitats. There is a lot of information about the loss of habitats for the Monarch butterflies. Jorge said sometimes small steps can help in big ways. K-State Research and Extension and Monarch Watch are two sources with fantastic information about Monarchs, habitats, and planting Milkweed. Jorge said it is important to note that there are many types of Milkweed. He recommends that people check with a local guide or ask your local garden or nursery assistant for help. 

     Pittsburg State students and all community members are encouraged to download the app, at no cost, by going to: https://axe.pittstate.edu/outreach/axe-news.html. Included on the webpage are directions for the GooseChase scavenger hunt game app and various games codes. The Library Services website at https://axe.pittstate.edu/index.html also provides the public access to DIY projects, activities for children and families, and more. 

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