Earth Day gathers students for first time post-lockdown


Courtesy photo

Event attendees listen during a Washoe “land acknowledgement,” at Sierra Nevada University’s Earth Day celebration on April 22.

A musical performance during Earth Day festivities, April 22. (Courtesy photo)

On April 22, Sierra Nevada University students hosted the first annual SNU Earth Day Festival. The event was organized by the SNU Climate Alliance and Social Justice Clubs, as well as the SNU Freeride Club and faculty sponsors. The festival featured numerous guest appearances, such as a land acknowledgement from a Paiute Elder, a guided mediation led by SNU Alumni, Rawshawn Walker, and a live performance from Tahoe Dead Project. This student-led and organized festival was SNU’s first on-campus events since the Covid-19 pandemic, and was widely celebrated as one of the most successful and we’ll managed functions hosted by student-run clubs.

One of the most notable booths was run by social justice club and climate alliance member Maggie Galloway, an SNU junior. Galloway’s booth featured thrifted T-shirts that were screen-printed with the phrase, “I am on stolen land,” an idea inspired by land acknowledgments, a decolonization effort that sheds light and educates on the traditional lands of indigenous communities. Each shirt sold for $20 and all proceeds were donated to the Washoe tribe. According to Galloway, the T-shirts sales raised $600 for the Washoe.

“Earth Day turned into such a great event. It was so cool to see the school rallying around the earth and celebrating the day and what it represents. All the speakers had something great to offer and it was cool seeing everyone super engaged with that, which was probably my favorite part,” Sam Rusak, SGA Sustainability Chair and SNU senior, said.


Sustainable Business Incubator

Along with live music and guided meditations, the Earth Day Festival also held space for a Sustainable Business Incubator, an idea that came about in this semesters “Sustainability and Entrepreneurship course.”

“I had a big hand in helping with the incubator and it was cool seeing that come from an idea in class and watching it become a reality at the Earth Day Festival,” Rusak said.

“The idea for the incubator was born from students taking Sustainability and Entrepreneurship this past Spring. Students spoke to wanting to be a part of and help drive a thought-driven, creative-idea sharing space revolving around the nexus between sustainability and entrepreneurship.

“With financial support from the Green Council, along with funds made available from SNU sustainability students winning a San Francisco-based entrepreneurial competition held by the Goodler Foundation in the Fall of 2019, the think-tank was a great success. The incubator was able to fund 10 students over eight ideas to the tune of $400 per person, for a total financial share of $4,000,” according to information provided by professor and sustainability program chair at SNU, Brennan Legasse.

“The review board for the incubator was comprised of SGA Green Council President, Sam Rusak, who was also the creator of the ‘G-Bike’ idea that won the Goodler Prize in San Francisco, Taylor Zehren, a social impact entrepreneur and co-founder of both Do Good Sh*t and waste*d, and Brennan Lagasse, professor of the Spring 2021 Sustainability and Entrepreneurship course.”

Recipients included:

  • Kyle Mannix-Green Panda Packaging: Sustainable packaging for the cannabis industry
  • Kara Campbell and Sam Rusak-High Flow Paddle: A kayak paddle made from sustainable materials
  • Victor Herrera-Eco-social commentary through art: A hand-crafted sculpture for SNU campus
  • Cara Hollis-Blue Marble Investment: A funding platform for sustainable business ideas/ ventures
  • Anne Kuosman-Tahoe-2-Go: App-based sustainable to-go products and services
  • Madeline Moore-Ecotowns: App-based educational game promoting sustainable thinking/living Jose Ortiz-Greenhouse Dream: Funded to research/write grants to support the SNU greenhouse
  • Luke Pederson and Caden Hansen-Bell Cow-SNU housed biodigester

Each recipient is asked to write the review board with an “idea update” by Nov. 27, 2021. The incubator hopes the small $400 per person awards will provided a measure of support in taking these ideas from dreams to reality, and that it will once again be up and running by Spring 2022 for another SNU Intersectional Earth Day celebration.