Branching Out grant benefits DWC

Alliant Energy and Trees Forever provide funds for new trees on campus
As part of its long-term plan to become an environmentally responsible community, Divine Word College takes a proactive, ongoing approach to “going green” and finding ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and renew. Dr. Marilyn Taylor, co-chair of the DWC Campus Sustainability Committee and associate professor of English, says, “Our students and staff at Divine Word College are eager to make a difference, looking for ways to help care for the environment.”

DWC received a $900 grant from the Branching Out program, creating a three-way partnership between Alliant Energy, Trees Forever and the college, as part of a community-based tree-planting project. With the money from the Alliant grant, six new birch and maple trees were purchased from Cascade Forestry, which provided a tree-planting demonstration recently. Thirty sugar maple, white oak and Colorado spruce tree seedlings, ordered from the Dubuque Soil and Water Conservation District in Epworth, have also recently been planted on campus.

Marlene Decker, Business Office Manager at DWC and member of the Sustainability Committee, initiated the tree project and the grant process.
“One of my goals is to do something positive for the campus here at Divine Word College and at the same time work with our students and get to know them on a different level,” Decker says, adding that “many hands make light work.”

Last year, the DWC Sustainability Committee performed a waste audit of the campus trash after hosting a presentation on waste disposal given by Bev Wagner, of Dubuque Metropolitan Waste Agency (DMASWA). Campus recycling centers are now established and ongoing “4-R” education involves the entire college community, helping to maintain its “campaign for the reduction of waste.” A shelter belt of trees on the west side of campus was also planted to save energy costs, and energy-efficient window coverings have been installed in the DWC library. The college purchased a hybrid vehicle last year as well, and a bioswale has been constructed on campus grounds, reducing erosion and filtering run-off water.

This spring, two Divine Word College employees and three students attended the Luther College Campus Sustainability Conference. “The conference was a good opportunity for us to see what other colleges around the Midwest are doing to make campus sustainability a priority,” says Mark Singsank, DWC Director of Development. “Many of them are doing amazing projects and programs that we may be able to incorporate on our campus.”

Buying local foods was just one of the several sessions Singsank attended. “This helps the local farmers and businesses, and reduces the carbon imprint of long-distance food transportation,” he says. From May through October, one-third to one-half of the fresh produce that DWC uses comes from a local Iowa grower. Jim Callahan, Maintenance Supervisor at DWC for the past 25 years, attended several energy conservation sessions at the conference. “There are a lot of good things being developed,” Callahan says. “We need to have a long-term commitment to sustainability, relative to the size of our college and the costs involved.”

Reduce, reuse, recycle and renew – Divine Word College is learning the 4 R’s as part of its commitment to the future.