Mercy Mondays: Announcing Salve’s 2023 Earth Champion Award recipients
Towards the end of the spring 2023 semester during the Earth Month celebration, the Office of Mission Integration awarded four Salve Regina community members with Earth Champion Awards. Each recipient received a beautiful cedar bird house handmade by Salve Regina’s own carpenter, Michael Oliveira.
Mary Beth Pelletier, program manager of mission integration, proudly introduced the awards.
“As flowers start dancing in the breeze and the trees begin to bud and leaf out and the days get warmer and longer, it is easy to connect with the Critical Concern of Earth,” she said. “But there are folks within our community who are thinking of the earth and its sustainability all year long. These faculty, staff and students are extraordinary and never falter — some may not even realize entirely the enormous impact their work has on the earth and how much they inspire us all.”
The first Earth Champion Awards was given to Cailin Martin ’24, an environmental studies major who was also a delegate to the COP27 summit in Egypt in the fall of 2022.
Martin is Salve Regina’s student sustainability coordinator. She also worked as a student research assistant to Dr. Jim Chace — the chair of the Deparment of Cultural, Global, and Environmental Studies — on his sentinel trees initiative supported by the McAuley Institute’s faculty collaborative on earth in 2021-22. With Martin’s help, QR-coded plaques for sentinel trees were created, along with the Instagram account.
The next award was to Levi Mitchell ’24, which was given to him by Martin. As President of the Hydroponics Club, Mitchell helped club members learn plant research skills, such as testing nutrient and pH levels and monitoring growth. He also sells their produce at the farmer’s market and donates fresh vegetables and herbs to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center.
“His peers know him as the Environmental Studies major and History minor who saved a baby moose in his free time,” said Martin. “Dr. Chace, the department chair of Cultural, Global, and Environmental Studies, knows him as a deeply knowledgeable and passionate student whose reforestation work inspires student exam essays in Ecology classes.”
As President of the Hydroponics Club, Mitchell helped club members learn plant research skills, such as testing nutrient and pH levels and monitoring growth. He also sells their produce at the farmer’s market and donates fresh vegetables and herbs to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center.
Dr. Thomas Arruda, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, was awarded the faculty award because of his work as a scholar within the earth collaborative in the McAuley Institute. In Dr. Arruda’s two years in the collaborative, his research with his student assistants was on projects entitled “Never Refuse to Reuse” and the “McAuley Energy Project” — both with a focus on energy consumption and generation.
Dr. Arruda’s low carbon lifestyle and work on next-generation batteries proves that he practices what he preaches, and he is considered an advocate for creating opportunities to make sustainable energy sources more affordable and more accessible for all.
The final award was given to Chris Kerwin, head gardener and groundskeeper.
“To take care of plants and trees is to speak another language,” said Pelletier as she presented him the award. “It takes patience and a lifelong commitment to connecting with the earth to understand its communication style. Luckily, Kerwin is bilingual and could teach a master class.”
In the Gilded Age, the gardener who maintained the roses was the head gardener, according to Pelletier. Roses are considered very high maintenance, and anyone who makes roses flourish is wise beyond their years and trusted to guide a team. It’s because of Kerwin’s hard efforts that Salve Regina still boasts its mesmerizing, historic rose gardens.
If anyone has a nomination for an Earth Champion Award in the future, please email email@example.com.
This post is part of an ongoing series called Mercy Mondays that highlights Salve Regina’s dedication to its Mercy Mission. Search the tag Mercy Mission for more updates on the Mercy branches of Salve Regina.