Zahniser Institute has been honored to collaborate with Mason Tennell on several Creation Care projects this year. Mason is a junior Biology Education and Enivronmental Biology double major at Greenville college and a 2014-2015 YECA Climate Leadership Fellow. The Climate Leadership Fellows program recruits, mentors, and commissions promising evangelical undergraduate students from across the United States and beyond. Find out more about Mason's work in this YECA midyear report.
Greenville College – Greenville, Illinois
Mason is a third year Biology Education and Environmental Biology double major at Greenville University, a Free Methodist university in Southern Illinois about an hour from St. Louis, Missouri. Mason has worked in campus safety and academic coaching on campus, and has also served on numerous mission trips. This is his first leadership role related to climate action.
New Student Organization
Mason’s first project was to work with student government and supportive professors and peers on campus to create an official student organization—The Green Team—focused on establishing creation care and climate action as an ongoing concern on campus. The founding included developing a constitution, identifying club officers and advisors, and obtaining approval from student government, which was accomplished in October 2014. Mason serves as the group’s president, and they provide a visible outlet for those who are passionate about the environment to come together and make an impact greater than what they could do on their own. The Green Team has also become affiliated with the Zahniser Institute, which is an organization named after the author of the Wilderness Act and Greenville College alumni Howard Zahniser.
Educating the Campus
The Green Team sponsored a well-attended colloquium featuring Dr. Mathias Zahniser, a retired missionary and professor. Dr. Zahniser spoke about his experiences with wilderness and his father, Howard Zahniser’s, thoughts on wilderness preservation. Separately, Mason spoke to a Science and Christianity class about the impacts of climate change on the poor, and put together a public display about Howard Zahniser and his work with wilderness preservation to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Green Team is also working with a professor from the Greenville Religion and Science Society to have YECA Spokesperson Ben Lowe speak about climate action in chapel and in an evening colloquium in April, 2015.
There is currently no recycling in the dorms at Greenville, and the Green Team has been working persistently to try and change this. They’ve received approval and funding from the administration to start recycling in a few dorms in the spring semester, and will be writing a proposal to the administration to expand that further. They are also planning a recycling event in the library during finals week of the fall semester where students will be able to recycle all the papers they no longer need.
The Green Team has been organizing opportunities for students to get involved in hands-on creation care and is committed to spearheading a monthly service project. The first one—in November—consisted of planting milkweed for the monarch butterfly population and doing other conservation work at Greenville College’s nearby science field station.
In Mason’s Own Words
"The YECA Fellowship Program has equipped me with the skills and support to move Greenville College’s campus forward on creation care and climate action. During the retreat we had in August the discussions and collaboration that was facilitated between myself, the YECA staff, the YECA steering committee and others assisted me in forming goals and ideas for advocating for creation care and climate action at Greenville College. Being a YECA fellow has been a blast this year. I have had many valuable experiences and am more active in creation care than I have ever been."
Find out more about YECA, the Climate Leadership Fellows program and Mason's work at: http://www.yecaction.org/2015/01/06/turning-greenville-green-midyear-report-on-mason-tennell-yeca-fellow/#sthash.ybGOFJFM.dpuf