Environmental Justice and Outdoors Club: For Tree Huggers and Hikers Alike

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The Environmental Justice and Outdoors Club (EJOC) is a student-led organization at USF that combines activism and hobby. The club’s mission is not only to bring forth environmental justice, but also to promote outdoor activity, volunteer work, and community involvement.

The club currently has around 50 members.

EJOC meets once a week to discuss important environmental issues, and to plan for future volunteer opportunities, weekend activities, and the ever-popular, once-a-semester camping trip.

According to student co-president Andy Cole, a fine arts major, the club strives to bring environmental awareness and education to students and faculty to encourage a more eco-friendly university community. Originally just the “Outdoors Club,” “Environmental Justice” was added at the beginning of last year due to a gaining interest within the club and around campus in discussions like fossil fuels, climate change, and even animal rights.

Last year, the club held a screening of the documentary “Chasing Ice” (2012) to educate students about the effects of climate change.

Some members of EJOC worked closely with Fossil Free USF to draft and deliver a letter of petition to University President, the Reverend Stephen A. Privett, and University CFO, Charles Cross, requesting that the university divest from all companies burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. The petition is part of a national campaign to reduce global warming, and currently has 241 USF signatures.

This year, EJOC will host a screening for “The Cove” (2009), which documents the mass fishing of dolphins in the coves of Taiji, Japan and investigates how such fishing affects dolphins and humans, alike.

Co-presidents Cole and Rachel Palmer, senior, have several events planned for the school year, whether they be on campus, in the city, or even in the woods. In the current semester so far, EJOC has hosted a BBQ bonding session in Golden Gate Park and a weekend hike at Land’s End. Cole said students can expect to see more activities in the upcoming months, such as volunteer trips in the city, biking and running groups, and even a “tech detox” hangout, where students tuck away their cell phones in order to create a more intimate and organic bonding experience.

EJOC also works with a San Francisco nonprofit organization called The Garden Project to help plant in a community garden located on Divisadero Street and Eddy Street. Palmer, a nursing major, explains: “We are going to work with the new community garden to promote sustainable living regardless of class. We are hoping to develop a high-yield garden that offers fresh, organic food to the low-income housing residents nearby.”

The Garden Project is one of several volunteer opportunities in which the club takes part. Students who wish to attend the club’s three-day camping trip are encouraged to volunteer at least twice during the semester.

EOJC also aims to make a close-knit and involved community, Cole said. By allowing students to interact and experience nature firsthand, the members of EOJC can directly enjoy what they are helping to preserve — while having fun and growing closer as well. “USF is not a huge campus, so it allows us to take the opportunity to create a really intimate community with people who have a mutual interest in the environment and the outdoors,” Cole said.

Club member Sofia Marbach, a freshman international studies major, joined EJOC after moving to San Francisco from her hometown in Hood River, Oregon. “I do a lot of hiking and backpacking back home, and I didn’t want to lose that connection when moving to an urban area like San Francisco,” Marbach said. “I joined the club looking for an opportunity to camp and hike, but also [to] involve myself in service projects like beach clean-ups and helping Fossil Free USF reach success in getting our school to divest completely from fossil fuels.”

Reta Flynt, a sophomore psychology major, is interested in environmental sustainability and joined the club to get involved with local sustainability events. “I love agriculture too, so I want to be more involved with community gardens and connect with people with similar interests.”

Freshman psychology major William Shaw explained why he joined the club: “[Because] I was born a tree hugger!” Shaw hopes to utilize EJOC as a way of bettering the world. “I hope we can make some actual change in our community to benefit our environment, because without it we’d be dead!” he exclaimed.

8 COMMENTS

  1. CORRECTIONS:

    “Environmental” was added to the “Outdoors Club” last year. It became the “Environmental Justice and Outdoors Club” for the first time this year, because students expressed interest in environmental justice after returning from a trip to Appalachia and seeing the devastation caused by mountaintop removal coal mining.

    The “Chasing Ice” screening was organized by a member of the Sustainability Committee last year. The club–then the Environmental and Outdoors Club–was not involved.

    The Fossil Free USF online petition proliferated a couple of weeks ago was authored solely by the lead organizer on the campaign. The EJOC had no involvement in its authorship, though some members helped gather petition signatures. That was a 48-hour attempt to regain the attention of CFO Charlie Cross, and did not go to the President of USF.

    The petition created last semester was hand delivered both to President Privett and Charlie Cross, and had 1,168 signatures.

  2. This is great for students to enhanced more their appreciation for the environment and to bring education outside through engaging activity guides. Participation in this club adds to the overall enjoyment for students and helps to develop leadership skills as well as advocating a well-rounded education. Way to go EJOC, may you enriched students with clearer understanding of their relationship with nature, and positive values in regard to the natural environment.

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