Creativity of VGCC students on display for Earth Day

Students created projects to address various environmental issues as Vance-Granville Community College held Earth Day festivals on April 22 on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County, South Campus in Granville County, and the Franklin County Campus. Alongside student exhibits were informative displays, works of art and demonstrations related to science, nature and sustainability, provided by college faculty and community members.

Among the highlights on Main Campus was a recycled art sculpture, fashioned by Cathy Stephens of Franklinton and featuring a poem by Morgan McFalls of Oxford, challenging visitors to do more to care for the planet. Both Stephens and McFalls are students in a Biology class taught by Dr. Dan Settles. At other booths, College Transfer student Cora Mercy of Macon featured her family’s chickens, while instructor Stewart Lyon’s zoology students challenged attendees to think of insects as “edible.”

Several VGCC departments also contributed to the event, including Automotive Systems Technology, which displayed its Toyota Prius with a solar roof panel; Electrical Systems Technology, with students demonstrating solar power; and Culinary Arts, which prepared and served organic chili. The VGCC Library displayed materials related to the environment and climate change. The college’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society conducted a used book drive. Guests participating in the event included American Wildlife Refuge of Raleigh, Metech Recycling, Middleburg Garden Club, the Peace Corps and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Meanwhile, the third annual Earth Day 5K “Fun Run/Walk” took place on Main Campus, promoting healthy exercise along with a healthy planet. A faculty/staff line dancing group provided entertainment.

South Campus had its largest celebration to date, with a record 112 students entering a contest to create Earth Day-themed posters. Taking first place in the contest was Jonathon Medlin of Creedmoor, followed by Michelle Beckum of Franklinton in second, and Gabrielle Johnson of Oxford in third. South Campus also held a “Trash Fashion Show” in which students recycled various materials, including garbage bags, into costumes. Winners were: first place, Belinda Wright of Durham, modeling a recycled cheerleader outfit made by Shekinah Yancey; second place, Wing Leung of Wake Forest, dressed in a pirate outfit crafted by Kristi West and Cheyenne Fowler; and third place, Laquaaninda Simmons of Durham dressed as a “blingy bag lady.” Gary Yates of South Granville Water and Sewer Authority served as judge for the poster contest and the fashion show. Other special guests included VGCC Library Services, Metech Recycling of Creedmoor, Deborah Brogden/Creedmoor’s Farmers Market, Architectural Trees, George Wilkins, Raleigh Cake Pops, Granville Greenways, Greenology products, All Safe Records Management Solutions, NC Museum of Natural Sciences; Tar River Land Conservancy; Bird Houses by Gina; Granville County Cooperative Extension Office; Hazen & Sawyer (environmental engineers & scientists); and Tommy Keith. Also in attendance were first-graders, teachers and some parents from Butner-Stem Elementary School. The children made bird feeders out of pine cones, peanut butter and bird seeds.

At Franklin Campus, the winner of the student poster contest was Johnny Rogers of Louisburg, a Business Administration student. Marissa Clark of Louisburg, a Franklin County Early College High School student, placed second, while David High Jr. of Louisburg, another Early College student, came in third. Meanwhile, students in the Welding program at Franklin Campus crafted a “Welders’ Tree” composed of recycled parts of cars and scrap metal, and made to resemble a sun, moon and human figures. Welding students involved in this project included Lilly Vaughan of Henderson, Austin Wyatt of Butner, Robert Lagle of Wake Forest and Matthew Patrikios of Franklinton. Guest participants included VGCC Library Services, the North Carolina Forest Service, Metech Recycling, the Franklin County office of N.C. Cooperative Extension, Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation, New Life Total Fitness, Franklin County Early College High School, Novozymes, and Safe Space. Attendees also helped clean up the local environment by conducting a “Trash Walk.”