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RIC Students Revive Environmental Club

RIC students John Fulton and Rene Breton

RIC students John Fulton and Rene Breton

Rhode Island College’s student Environmental Club, which had been defunct for many years, was re-established this year by two ambitious students who believed that if they built it, students would come.

Rene Breton and John Fulton, president and vice-president, respectively, have recruited six additional members and hope the club will take off from there.

Breton, originally from Connecticut, and Fulton, originally from Michigan, transferred to RIC in 2011. “When I arrived, I noticed that there wasn’t any student environmental activities going on,” Breton said. “It took a year for me to realize that I could create them myself.”

Last year, Breton and Fulton met with Jim Murphy, the college's sustainability coordinator, to talk about establishing green activities on campus.

First the two students started a RIC community garden in a plot at the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary a few blocks from the college. Then they began plans to revive the Environmental Club.

“The club is planning for the annual Earth Day (celebration),” said Fulton. “This year we’re going to celebrate on the Wednesday after Earth Day, April 24, because it’s free period for all students.”

Their main goal is to get more students involved in the Rhode Island College campus garden. This spring the garden was moved from the Franciscan plot to a site on RIC’s campus.

“We’re thinking about growing plants in the greenhouse and then, on April 24, placing the plants around campus with a map. If a passerby sees the plant, they can choose to pick it up and follow the map to the RIC garden and plant it. Maybe they’ll be motivated to get involved,” Fulton said.

The club also has a composting project in the works that will go hand-in-hand with the RIC garden. “We’d like to start out by composting organic scraps from the Donovan Dining Center,” said Breton. “But I would eventually like to see it as a program where students, faculty, staff and even neighbors contribute to the compost.”

Both students hope the club will connect people, on campus and off. “I’d like to see people work together, share ideas and build community around things that are important – healthy food and a healthy environment,” Fulton said.

He said in the digital age a sense of community is lacking, that people don’t physically commune. They text, they Skype, they phone -- anything but commune without an electronic device.

“Trade that device for a spade, a shovel, a rake, some soil and a lot of green food stuffs,” said Fulton. “The issue is more than just physical health, but community health.”