SummerMagazine_2014_final - page 34-35

summer 2014 | St. Lawrence University Magazine 33
32 summer 2014 | St. Lawrence University Magazine
arlands made from plastic
water bottles stretched across
the Sullivan Student Center
atrium for one week in March. The 342
bottles represented the number of St.
Lawrence-insignia bottles sold every day
in the Northstar Café (aka “The Pub”).
According to manager Killy Bobela, that
works out to 660 one-liter bottles and
1,728 half-liter bottles a week.
Environmental Action Organization
(EAO) Co-President Jeff Mogavero ’16
says the purpose of the garland was to
“start making people think a little more”
about their consumption of non-resuable
resources. Jeff, a Conservation Biology
major and resident of the Green House,
pulls no punches when he says, “Drink-
ing from a reusable water bottle is an
“It always starts with dinosaurs,”
says
Mindy Pitre, assistant professor of
anthropology. “And then your thoughts
move to humans.” It’s a process that she
applies to her teaching.
After taking an ancient history course in
high school, Pitre realized she was espe-
cially interested in paleo-anthropology,
or the study of ancient humans. This
drove her to pursue a doctoral degree
from the University of Alberta.
During her Ph.D. program, Pitre looked
at skeletons from ancient northern Meso-
potamia, circa 2200-1900 B.C. She says,
“There is archeological evidence of some-
thing happening, perhaps a dry spell,
that caused the rain-fed agriculture to die
out and the civilization to collapse.”
Pitre’s project observed skeletons before
and after the collapse to see if
there was a difference in bone
health. However, she explains,
“After a couple of years, once
I cut into the bone, I realized
it had been destroyed by a mi-
crobial growth. [This] ended
up being the first biofilm ever
found in archeological human
bone.” Pitre explains that a
biofilm is a “complex micro-
bial aggregate, all random
ones [clustered together].
It’s almost like a melting pot
of microbes.” She spent the
remainder of her Ph.D. pro-
gram finding the best curation
scenario for saving bone over
the long term.
Pitre has loved teaching since
childhood, when she would
dig up artifacts in her back
yard and teach the neighbor-
hood children about them.
She remains animated and en-
thusiastic when talking about
anything anthropological.
In her class Dealing with the
Dead, her students collect
Tombstones as Teaching Tools
laurentian portrait
laurentian portrait
Jeff Mogavero ’16 and the Environmental Action Organization's Reuse campaign
Looking backward to look forward
easy thing students aren’t always do-
ing. People still buy St. Lawrence water
bottles out of ignorance or convenience,
or because they think the water tastes
different, or they don’t care. They’re not
looking at their lives and seeing how they
help, or hurt, the world.”
The garlands were part of EAO’s SLU
Reuse campaign, aimed at eliminat-
ing non-reusable bottles on campus.
“A $1,000 grant from the New York
State Pollution Prevention Institute
directed EAO’s focus to water issues,”
Jeff explains. “The money subsidized
red plastic SLU Reuse bottles so they
could be sold for eight dollars.” Within
a few days, the bottles were sold out and
another order was placed.
The SLU Reuse campaign utilizes posters
that quip “St. Lawrence has a drinking
problem,” a pledge to reduce consump-
tion, a film series on water issues, and
bathroom fact sheets on water usage.
EAO has significantly increased its visibil-
ity on campus through the bottle instal-
lation and by visiting student residences,
employing social media and focusing on
high-involvement projects. Their initia-
tives also include
education on
post-consumer
composting
around campus
and giving out
plants potted in
reused water cups
at the North Country Folk Festival on
campus in April, a Green House-spon-
sored event.
Jeff, of Havertown, Pa., hopes that EAO’s
work will increase the practice of low-
impact lifestyles, which he seeks to em-
body. “If students can remember to reuse
their water bottles, unplug power strips
and turn off the lights—that’s a good
takeaway,” he concludes. “I’m involved in
environmentally-focused issues because
it’s my duty to be a good steward. We
have only one Earth, and we should think
more about how our actions affect it.”
–Jeff Mogavero '16
We have only
one Earth,
and we should
think more about
how our actions
affect it.
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A Different Kind of ‘Drinking Problem’
Nicole Eigbrett wrote this article as part of her
internship in University Communications.
Another intern, Stephanie Eldon ’14, assisted
with the editing.
data from tombstones in a graveyard.
The idea is to “understand a popula-
tion” by walking through their graves,
says Pitre. She plans to move the project
beyond campus and collaborate with the
St. Lawrence County Historical Associa-
By Nicole Eigbrett ’14
G
tion to “digitize local cemeteries with
historical information,” she says. The
final product would be a “digital online
cemetery,” Pitre adds with excitement.
“You could click on each tombstone and
get all the historical information, and
people could use it for their genealogical
research.”
Pitre regularly teaches Human Origins,
Forensic Anthropology and Human
Evolution. “I’m all about the experien-
tial,” she concludes, emphasizing that
she’s constantly bringing research into
the classroom. “People don’t learn by
just seeing; they learn by doing.”
Tori Bean wrote this article as part of her
internship in University Communications.
Another intern, Stephanie Eldon ’14,
assisted with the editing.
By Victoria Bean ’14
Pitre has loved
teaching since
childhood, when
she would dig up
artifacts in her
back yard and teach
the neighborhood
children
about them.
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