Earthkeepers is a student group at EMU focused on acting in and around the EMU community to encourage, simplify and implement environmentally-friendly practices such as recycling, composting and reducing waste.
Earthkeepers began in the early 1970s when students sought to bring large-scale recycling to campus. Since then, the group has implemented additional composting and recycling programs on campus and each year awards sustainability mini-grants.
Mission statement: In the context of the broader EMU community, Earthkeepers attempts to follow Christ’s example of holistic redemption by pursuing sustainable attitudes and practices in relating to and enjoying Creation. Learn more about why we care
Founding members say the name came from Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.”
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Over the years, Earthkeepers has done a lot. In the last few years, we’ve started composting and recycling programs on campus using student volunteer help, organized hiking trips, field trips, panel discussions with guest speakers, and an annual week-long event called “Food and Farming Week.” During this week, students are able to learn about and participate in farming practices and food issues that are important today.
Each year we host a sustainability mini-grant competition, with the support of the Creation Care Council and the campus QEP. Other activities include:
- Pumpkin carving
- Leaf raking
- Christmas tree lighting
- Tri-weekly composting
- Chicken care
Creation care isn’t something only students in a certain club care about, which is why we in Earthkeepers are all about collaborating with other clubs and university departments. If you are interested in partnering with Earthkeepers, talk to one of us or send us an email. In the past, we have worked with these groups, among others:
- Sustainable Food Initiative
- Creation Care Council
- Chemistry Department
- Biology Department
- Campus Ministries
- Physical Plant
- Campus Activities Council
- Information Systems
- Bike Club and Co-op
- Quality Enhancement Program (a five-year initiative titled “Peace with Creation”)
The history of Earthkeepers
The history of Earthkeepers at EMU is a long and interesting one. The group began in the 1970s by students in EMU’s business department as a money-making business venture. Their idea was to make money by recycling materials – paper and some plastics – collected from EMU and the surrounding neighborhood; as an added plus, the experience gave them practical entrepreneurial experience. It so happened that they didn’t make as much money as they had thought, and the club turned its focus on creation care.
Legend has it this EMU student effort laid the early groundwork for what is now the Harrisonburg Recycling Program.
In recent years, our club has taken a high-profile role on campus in reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting, and has made some other improvements, like a partnership with Pioneer Food Service (the cafeteria/dining hall provider) to compost excess leftover food each day. We also began the annual Rubbish Redemption drives, and we work with another campus group, the Sustainable Food Initiative, on a number of projects each year, including the traditional Food & Farming Week each year.