Indiana State University Newsroom

Pet an alpaca, get a tie-dyed T-shirt at this year’s ISU Earth Day

April 14, 2014

Aquaponics, alpacas and a picnic on the quad — Earth Day 2014 at Indiana State University promises to bring together an eclectic ensemble of green-loving businesses, organizations and students.

“I think this is going to be the biggest Earth Day yet,” said Caroline Savage, interim executive director of the Institute for Community Sustainability at Indiana State. “We usually see about 1,000 students, but I don’t think it would be out of the question to see 2,500 this year. That’s what we should expect, actually.”

Festivities kick off at noon Wednesday (April 16) with a few comments from university President Dan Bradley, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett and Savage. The ceremony will take place on the stage just west of Normal Hall.

New to this year’s event is an outdoor picnic on the quadrangle hosted by Sodexo, Indiana State’s dining services provider. The cost for a picnic lunch is $7-10, and vegetarian options will be available.

“We’re pretty sure this is the first (outdoor dining hall picnic) at ISU,” Savage said. “Sodexo does so much for sustainability anyway, so they’ll get to share a little about that. I don’t think students realize how much they do. They have a really robust sustainability policy.”

Also new to ISU’s Earth Day are sustainability awards, which will be given to deserving students, faculty and staff — with an overall grand prize being a catered, sustainable meal with the president and first lady Cheri Bradley.

More than 45 vendors and activities have signed up, including Greener Scenes Aquaponics. Owner Mathew Pollom started his sustainable food production business, after unexpected medical conditions sidelined his ability to work in his previous field of expertise.

“Not the type of person to go on disability and collect a check, I thought about my hobbies and how I can make a living,” Pollom said.

During a trip to Walt Disney World, Pollom was wowed by the Epcot Center’s experimental horticulture techniques in hydroponics — something Pollom had been interested in all his life. Aquaponics works by combining traditional aquaculture (raising fish, prawn, etc.) with cultivating plants in water.

Now, after teaming up with Inland Aquatics in Terre Haute, Pollom has created Wabash Valley’s first aquaponic production, education and gardening business. He hopes to have an aquaponic system on display at Earth Day. 

“Talk about someone who is making the best out of what he had — and now, he’s doing something that will benefit the community,” Savage said.

Other vendors include Xtreme Measures, a tie-dyeing company that will be handing out free T-shirts, White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, who are bringing their alpacas, Staples, an event sponsor who will be providing information about their eco-friendly office supplies, and TREES Inc., who will be giving away saplings.

Students from the Environmental 460 class will present their research in Stalker Hall, and a student-produced film about sustainability will be playing on a loop, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., in the welcome center.

Door prizes, live entertainment, a rock climbing wall and kite flying will also be available throughout the day. Admission is free and open to the public.

ISU’s Earth Day will conclude with an 8:30 p.m. showing of Disney’s hit animated film, “Frozen” on the quad.

If Wednesday’s festivities aren’t enough to satisfy your eco-thirst, don’t miss the Earth Day Speaker event on April 22. Joel Greenberg of the Passenger Pigeon Project will present a talk, “Echoes of Their Wings: The Passenger Pigeon and Its Legacy,” 7 p.m. at University Hall Theater.

The April 22 event is part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Community Semester, is hosted by Rusty Gonser and co-sponsored by the Darwin Keynote Speaker Series, Center for Community Engagement, University Honors Program, College of Graduate and Professional Studies, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and the Lilly Endowment.


Contact: Caroline Savage, interim executive director of the Institute for Community Sustainability at Indiana State, 812-232-8502 or 

Writer: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or