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ETSU’s Department of Sustainability receives stewardship award

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JOHNSON CITY (August 8, 2013) — East Tennessee State University's Department of Sustainability has received the Higher Education Aquatic Stewardship Award from the Boone Watershed Partnership.

The department has worked closely with the Boone Watershed Partnership during the past year, coordinating volunteer workers from ETSU to aid in the beautification of Brush Creek, which runs along the railroad track next to the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs property and into downtown Johnson City.

Frequent flooding of the stream and surrounding area pulls a variety of litter and waste into the creek. In addition, complications from such contaminants as fertilizers, farm waste and other pollutants have contributed to Brush Creek's classification as an impaired stream.

Several creek clean-ups organized by the Department of Sustainability successfully removed large amounts of litter from the creek, leaving the area more aesthetically attractive and ecologically sound. Over the course of five clean-ups, more than 2,000 pounds of debris were removed. Volunteers recovered the usual items, such as plastic and glass bottles, but also discovered other waste, like construction debris and tires.

Fifty students from Dr. Aimee Govett's Science in Education classes were heavily involved in the effort, along with other campus groups including Alpha Phi Omega Honor Society. Through their participation, students gained a deeper understanding of the ecology of local waterways and discovered why streams should be kept in good condition.

The Department of Sustainability has worked to provide students with a variety of sustainability and environmentally related service opportunities that encourage interaction with community groups. This type of service work supplies students with a hands-on learning experience, connects them to local groups and initiatives outside the university and helps to enhance their retention of curriculum related to these topics.

At least two creek clean-ups are scheduled for the fall semester in conjunction with Volunteer ETSU's Service Saturdays. The Department of Sustainability aims to continue this ongoing project, as there is a fairly constant influx of litter into Brush Creek.

In addition to the clean-ups, the Boone Watershed Partnership, Washington County Economic Development Council and the Department of Sustainability have made it their mission to educate the campus community about the hazards of stream contaminants and waste build-up and to provide suggestions about ways individuals can reduce litter.

For further information, contact Kathleen Moore, director of the ETSU Department of Sustainability, at (423) 439-7766 or moore@etsu.edu.