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Kelly Evans, a senior who is majoring in Biology with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution and Natural History, devotes much of her time to fostering a more eco-friendly community at Westmont. She spent one semester abroad in New Zealand through the Creation Care Study Program, is the on-campus sustainability intern, and the co-president of the garden club.
H: How did you first get involved with the garden on campus?
K: I started volunteering in the garden my sophomore year and became much more consistent after I came back from New Zealand, which was my study abroad program-- I was part of the “Creation Care” study program. Really I just had a huge love for gardening and a huge love for environmentalism and wanted to get involved in a tangible way at Westmont, and the garden club was pretty much the only environmental group on campus. So, I got involved, became a committed member, and this year I am the sustainability intern as well as the co-president, so it kind of escalated in the best way!
H: What does being the sustainability intern look like/ mean?
K: I guess you could say I am the garden caretaker. I work fifteen hours a week in the gardens, whether that means re-doing the irrigation system, planting, weeding, tilling, turning over a row, feeding the chickens, collecting eggs-- anything that would require maintenance in the garden-- that’s pretty much my job. Kenny Chism is my boss, gives me instructions, teaches me the things I don’t know how to do, and helps me figure out what needs to be planted. He’s like the mentor.
H: How did you come to be the sustainability intern?
K: Kenny saw my commitment to the garden club and he had been on the same study abroad program in New Zealand a few years beforehand so he knew what that program entailed and how it makes someone ready to take care of the garden. He offered me that position over the summer and it was a really honoring thing for me.
H: When you envision a more sustainable Westmont, what do you see?
K: When we think of sustainability, our minds automatically jump to our actions Whether that’s getting solar at Westmont, reducing water intake or plastic consumption… We think of the “big ones.” These are incredibly important in feasible ways to act out what we believe, but I think what Westmont really needs is a shift in priority. We as Christians were given the ordinance of stewardship. That was actually our first job-- to be workers of the soil and to take care of it. I don’t believe that our fall from Eden negated that vocation, and which means we have this beautiful opportunity to restore creation, which has been in a state of disrepair. That is, in my opinion, as strong of a vocation as one for social justice, education, or helping the poor. It’s just as important because it touches every life. I think we, as Westmont students and as Christians, need to be reminded of the responsibility that we have. If we could have a little bit of a shift, a little bit of change, a re-prioritizing, then that could do a whole lot of good. What a light we could be if we started acting towards the betterment of the environment for the betterment of people!
H: How has the garden impacted your life at Westmont?
K: Working in the garden-- getting your hands in the soil and being connected in that way-- it provides an enormous amount of peace. You’re able to really put aside things for a moment and re-prioritize towards growing and towards seeing life. It’s a pretty incredible experience. It’s been a great stress reliever for me. We also have a lot of educational opportunities for students, so as we’re gardening we’re learning about what we’re gardening. We’re learning about what foods grow well in one season and don’t in another, so we’re learning a lot too, and that goes along with my major, so it’s definitely helping me in that area. And you make a lot of great friends too!
H: Spirit vegetable?
K: Ain’t that the question! I’ve never thought that deeply about it, but I think I am a broccolini.
H: What would you tell someone who wanted to get involved in sustainability at Westmont or the garden on campus but didn’t know exactly how?
K: Come to the Garden Club! There is always something that needs to be done, and always a place no matter what your experience or skill set. At the end of the day, this is a place of peace, a place of community, and a place of knowledge. We are trying to connect more with God’s earth and value it as such.