Everearthday2y spring, students in Dr. Martha McKevlin’s Environmental Biology class put on an Earth Day program at the school as part of their course requirements.  Students are given some basic guidelines and then plan the whole program themselves.  What they do and how they do it is up to them.

This year, students decided to celebrate sustainable agriculture and the local farmer.  Salk student, Dalton Ethridge, asked his grandfather, Paul Gramling, to bring his dairy cow, Molly, to campus and give a milking demonstration as part of their Earth Day program.  Many folks simply do not know where their food comes from and a milking demonstration makes this a real hands-on learning experience.  Mr. Gramling has been a dairy farmer all of his life but now he spends his time giving milking demonstrations with the help of his wife, Savon, and of course Molly, his 9-year-old Jersey milk cow.   His wife, Savon, also demonstrates how butter is made from Molly’s milk.

This year, students not only observed the workings of a milking machine, they also got to try their hand at milking Molly.  Several students, as well as some faculty, took up the challenge, including math professor, Dr. Bryan Lai, and even Dr. McKevlin, herself.  Students asked questions about the care and feeding of a milk cow and learned something about local agricultural practices in the process.

Other information provided by students during the program included the history of Earth Day, founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson and first celebrated on April 22, 1970 and the value and benefits of buying local.  Buying from local farmers, whether it be produce, eggs, dairy, or grass fed meats, not only supports local farmers, it also benefits the environment and reduces carbon emissions by reducing the need for transportation. Also, produce will be fresher and tastier when it has not been shipped thousands of miles.  Students provided bottled water as part of the refreshments as a reminder of the water issues we see in the news around our country and our need for clean water.  All recyclable materials were recycled at the end of the event, emphasizing that we need to recycle when we can, part of the Earth Day message.

Agriculture and Earth Day really do go hand-in-hand. Family farms depend on good stewardship of the land and healthy, functioning ecosystems.  Local farmers can be the first line of defense in protecting the environment especially when they practice sustainable agriculture.  So protect the Earth and support your local farmers and think about what it takes to supply your family with wholesome, quality food.  Celebrate Earth Day every day.

Robert Langdale, III, chairman of the Earth Day program, also wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in helping the environmental biology class have a successful Earth Day 2016, especially Paul and Savon Gramling and Molly, the Student Government Association and the administration at USC Salk.