University professor remembered on Earth Day

Chelsea Birdsall

Drastic weather changes Wednesday didn’t stop the desire to raise awareness for the Earth and the appreciation of a late professor by several clubs in the Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences (EEGS) department by hosting the first ever Anderton’s Earth Day.

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EEGS department head Susy Ziegler said the weather would have only enthused Anderton, combining his passion for snow and the Earth.

“Dr. Anderton loved to ski, and he would have appreciated that it snowed on Earth Day. He probably would have been scoping out north-facing slopes on hills above Lake Superior that still have enough snow to ski on,” Ziegler said. “Then he would have explained to his physical geography students how sun angle and landscape position affect snow cover and make it possible to ski late into spring even when the ground is bare on campus.”

Earth Day is much like Thanksgiving in that it is an appreciation for the only home we have and a way to show our respect, said junior environmental studies and sustainability major Carina Vowels.

“This is a day of respect and a day of reflection of your place on the Earth,” Vowels said. “We can reflect what we’re doing, where we can go and what we can do to help the Earth and each other.”

From noon to 3 p.m., various members from the Students for Sustainability, EEGS Garden Club, Environmental Science Organization, Gamma Theta Upsilon and the Rock and Mineral Club stood together in the academic mall to promote Earth Day.

The compilation of all EEGS clubs was a first. Increasing communication between the various groups was a goal of the event. Vowels said it was hard to get a large interest for the new idea, but once everyone came together, it wasn’t much work at all.

The event originally consisted of multiple field-day activities such as coffee sack relay races, frisbee toss, chalk drawings, various sports, hackey sack and kite flying. Some activities were scaled back due to the inclement weather. The event was supposed to portray a relaxed atmosphere, which is why it lacked structure, said Vowels.

In addition to the games, participants received prizes and t-shirts for the games and free organic apples supplied by Farmer Q’s Market.

The theme for the field-day inspired idea was sparked by the legacy left behind by John Anderton, a professor in the department who died suddenly in March 2014.

Vowels, who had Anderton as a professor for human geography and introduction to maps, described him as an environment enthusiast, who enjoyed seeing students hanging out on campus grounds.

“I think the cool thing is he inspired students to get excited,” Vowels said. “I also think his dedication to, not just his job, classes and students, but also his life mission, which I would say was to making the Earth a better place for humans and the environment, was phenomenal.”

Senior environmental studies and sustainability major Kaitlyn Jones had Anderton for her soils class. She described him as a very hands-on and passionate professor.

“We had a lot of field trips and he was always excited about the topic he was discussing,” Jones said. “You could tell he loved what he did.”

Though the day was dedicated to Earth appreciation, Vowels said this was also a way to thank all the professors in the EEGS department and to show them the recognition they deserve since their teachings are an inspiration. Vowels said several professors in the department stand behind the idea of celebrating Earth Day in Anderton’s memory.

Ziegler complimented the students hard work and effort to make the event happen, even in the snow.

“Dr. Anderton inspired many students who remember the lessons he taught them about people and the environment,” Ziegler said. “Anderton’s Earth Day is an opportunity to appreciate the planet and remember a special professor, colleague, friend and family member.”

In the past, there had been efforts to clean-up garbage and other service-oriented activities in honor of Earth preservation, Jones said.

Anderton’s Earth Day is aimed to be more celebration-oriented, not only for the Earth, but the memory of an amazing man, Vowels said.

Even if they weren’t in attendance for the actual event, Vowels said she hopes all students celebrate Earth Day in some form.

Though the event is taking place in her final semester, Jones said she was happy to see this happen. She said she wishes to see this turn into an annual event. Vowels added she wants to see more local vendors and environment-friendly groups in Marquette in attendance in the future.