AP Environmental Science students at Salisbury High School had an opportunity to hear from two National Geographic Explorers visiting Catawba College last week. On Tuesday, February 6, students participated in a presentation by Dr. Andrew Stein, a National Geographic Explorer and founder and director of CLAWS (Communities Living Among Wildlife Sustainably). Stein, a colleague of Dr. Luke Dollar who chairs Catawba College's Environment and Sustainability Department, was in town for a Feb. 5 presentation titled "Can a Story Save the African Lion?" at the Center for the Environment and graciously agreed to take his message of wildlife conservation to SHS.
Stein, an assistant professor of natural science at Landmark College and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has over a decade of experience studying human-carnivore conflict – from African wild dogs and lions in Kenya and Botswana to leopards and hyenas in Namibia. Recently, he has expanded his interests to explore non-lethal approaches to mitigate livestock conflict with lions in northern Botswana and wolves on Montana ranchland.
Stein's presentation to SHS students in Ms. Carie Fugle's class is just one of the many collaborations between Catawba College and the Rowan-Salisbury Schools. In late January, the two entities announced a partnership that will allow RSS lateral entry teachers to earn their teacher's certification through Catawba at a discount thanks to scholarship funds provided by longtime benefactors of both Catawba and RSS.
Later last week, on Thursday, Feb. 8, Dr. Dollar and another visitor to the Catawba campus, Dr. T.H. Culhane, also a National Geographic Explorer, as well as founder of the NGO Solar Cities and a professor at University of South Florida's Patel College of Global Sustainability, returned to Salisbury High School. Culhane, who was on the Catawba campus to speak about alternative energy, living off-grid, education and employment opportunities in the Environment and Sustainability fields, shared a similar message to environmental science students at SHS.
Culhane also continued work with Catawba students on their ongoing biogas digester project, adding closed-loop heating coils, fueled by self-generated biogas, to aid increased biogas production in the colder months. In the spring, the Department of Environment and Sustainability at Catawba plans to hold a cookout exclusively using biogas from the digester in the Catawba greenhouse, demonstrating how this off-grid equipment can provide an endless supply of sustainable, off-grid biofuels for cooking and power generation.
Catawba's Department of Environment and Sustainability is further extending its linkages with both Explorers' academic departments and institutions. Stein's Landmark College is a two-year undergraduate institution, granting associate's degrees. An arrangement to channel students to Catawba's Department of Environment & Sustainability for their bachelor's degrees after completion of their studies at Landmark College is in the works. Culhane's professorship, in the Patel College of Global Sustainability at USF, is a graduate-only program. Dollar and Culhane are arranging for a 3-2 program between Catawba and USF, in which Catawba undergraduates could complete their fourth year of undergraduate work at the same time as their first year of graduate studies, therefore completing both a bachelor's degree from Catawba and a master's degree from USF in just five years.
Rowan County high school students, ages 14-17, are invited to apply to participate in a national environmental summit, Redesigning Our Future, scheduled July 14-17 on the campus of Catawba College. Activities which are centered in the classrooms and labs of the Center for the Environment and in the adjacent Stanback Ecological Preserve provide an opportunity for young environmental leaders to learn, create, share, interact, grow, connect, and build relationships. The summit is sponsored by four leading organizations, including the Center for the Environment at Catawba, Rocky Mountain Institute, Environmental Working Group, and Yellowstone Forever. Its goal is to allow participants to create a toolbox of leadership skills that can be used now and in their future. A $90 environmental summit tuition discount is offered for students who submit their application materials by May 1. For more information, visit www.centerfortheenvironment.org.
Catawba College also offers generous scholarships to college-bound high school students and students transferring from other institutions, like Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, who are interested in pursuing an academic major in Environment and Sustainability. New students indicating an interest in those majors are eligible for scholarships of $5,000 a year for each year they attend the College, in addition to other competitive Environment-specific merit scholarships and need-based aid they may qualify for. Students are invited to apply for both admission and these scholarships at www.catawba.edu/apply.