By: Olivia Bauer
Even in the independent town of Oxford, Ohio, environmental protection is a big concern. Although the town is small, it is home to Miami University, many shops and restaurants that the students and community love, residential housing, and a vast amount of farmland; thus, it alters the environment in more ways than one. Since there are so many students and residents, there is a large amount of habitat loss due to building and increasing farmland. Additionally, there is also unnecessarily high amounts of water usage and energy use, due to students constantly charging their technological devices, farmers using a large amount of water for crop production. However, there are many groups working to mitigate these effects and improve the environment in multiple ways.
How incredible would it be to permanently protect land that contains endangered plant and animal species? Well, the Three Valley Conservation Trust does exactly this. It is a nonprofit land trust aiming to coordinate permanent protection of endangered properties. Their efforts have allowed them to protect more than 200,000 acres of land, all while supporting communities and farming families. Their main goal is to protect farmland in southwest Ohio, and improve the life quality for the people that call this area their home. They encourage volunteers to help with these goals! Three Valley offers short term volunteer opportunities that include newsletter mailings, community outreaching, and hands-on work. For more long term volunteer activities, people can work with easements, work on with writing news or grants, and even working on the committee. To get involved, visit their website at www.3vct.org.
Pertaining to the more political aspect of environmental advocacy, there is an organization called Citizens Climate Lobby. This group focuses on climate change as a nation, in order to improve the health of the future. Unfortunately there are no chapters located in Oxford; however, there are branches within 45 minutes away in Cincinnati and Dayton. Through this group, volunteers are able to make their individual voices heard and experience how they can directly affect environmental policy, especially within their local areas. By doing this, people who are involved had the chance to form relationships with leaders within their community, elected officials, and even Congress. To get involved with this group, visit their website link above, press “Take Action,” and fill out the online volunteer form.
A local opportunity involving more hands-on work is offered by Hayes Cummins, an oceanographer and professor of geography, geology, environmental science, and sustainability at Miami University. Due to his passionate for nature, he began the Edge of the Farm Conservation Area in his own backyard. With this program, he aims to remove invasive plant species (such as honeysuckle) and restore the land with native ones. This land includes short and tall grass prairies along with wetlands. He has succeeded in ensuring that this land, and the land he has purchased in the Big Bend region of Florida, are under a conservation easement, a legal and voluntary agreement between an organization and the landowner, and are permanently protected. To keep up this beautiful ecosystem, Hayes Cummins welcomes volunteers. Since 2008, there have been over 1500 students that have helped with this ongoing project. In addition to this, this area contains hiking trails with beautiful scenery. To learn more, email Hayes Cummins at haysc@MiamiOH.edu.
Within the Oxford community and its outskirts, there are a variety of groups working on environmental conservation, and they are all looking for help from others who are as passionate about their cause as they are. In the words of Professor Cummins, “Every little bit that you can do makes a difference” when it comes to preserving the environment. When looking for your next volunteer project or environmental work, the groups within the vicinity of Oxford welcome you.