St. Joseph’s students, faculty and staff attended the College’s fifth annual Earth Week Seminar, which featured international guest speaker Martin Muriuki, the executive director at the Institute for Culture and Ecology in Kenya.
Muriuki, who advocated for the ban of single-use plastic in Kenya, discussed the importance of this ban and how it has benefited the environment during the seminar, “Speak up for Nature.”
Youth are the foundation of any nation, and it’s very important to engage young people so (sustainability efforts) become part of their moral responsibility, so they have a moral obligation to do the right thing.” –Martin Muriuki
“Plastic pollution is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and it is worse so in developing countries like Kenya,” Muriuki said. “Plastics and polythene bags are a threat to a clean environment, not only endangering livestock and their health, but they are problematic in the realization of sustainable land use and agricultural practices.”
Kenya banned the use of such materials in 2017, reducing environmental pollution from plastic carrier bags by 80%, according to Muriuki. He stressed that it is not only important to have such a law in place, but to accompany that law with awareness and to continue encouraging people to take responsibility.
Muriuki, who worked under Kenyan Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai, shared that perhaps the best audience to reach and get involved is young people.
“Youth are the foundation of any nation, and it’s very important to engage young people so (sustainability efforts) become part of their moral responsibility, so they have a moral obligation to do the right thing,” he said.
Francis W. Antonawich Memorial Award
Prior to the seminar, this year’s Francis W. Antonawich Memorial Award for Environmental Stewardship was presented to biology major Keriann Tenney ’21.
“Francis W. Antonawich exhibited leadership, environmental stewardship, academic integrity and warm collegiality with classmates at SJC,” said Konstantine Rountos, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology and coordinator of the environmental studies minor.
“Keriann exhibits these qualities to the fullest, whether as a tutor to biology undergraduates or to classmates in her upper-level courses,” Dr. Rountos continued. “Keriann has a passion for marine conservation and will be attending graduate school this fall to pursue this career. All of us in the Department of Biology are proud of her work and are looking forward to seeing her career flourish.”