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At the college and in the community, Clark College is a leader.

The future is green banner

Green was the color of conversation on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008 – a departure from the Penguin Nation’s traditional blue and white – as Clark College participated in the national global warming teach-in held at colleges and universities across the country.

Above left:  Members of the Penguin Nation lined up to calculate their carbon footprint during the Green Business Solutions Fair in Gaiser Student Center.   Above right:  Biodegradable food containers, such as those made from corn or sugar cane, offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional polystyrene foam “clam-shell” containers used by restaurants and food vendors.

A day-long schedule of events offered members of the Clark community the chance to learn more about global warming and sustainability. Faculty, students, staff and administrators were seen in the Penguin Union Building, Gaiser Student Center and classrooms throughout the college participating in sessions designed to increase awareness.

From boxes of worms to knitted plastic grocery bags, the Green Business Solutions Fair was a particular success, giving attendees the opportunity to interact with representatives from agencies and businesses who support or engage in environmentally friendly practices. Lines formed early and remained constant at the laptop computers where members of the Penguin Nation calculated their own carbon footprint and received a reusable shopping bag featuring the college logo and event slogan: “The future is green.”

Above left:  Members of Clark College’s debate team participated in the national global warming teach-in by discussing the topic: Are biofuels sustainable? From left: A.J. McIlvain, Gina McIlvenny and Vanessa Jackson.  Above right:  Here’s one use for all those plastic grocery sacks – turning them into plastic yarn (known as “plarn”) for knitting and crocheting.

“Today is about reflecting on the legacy we’re leaving – as individuals and as an institution,” said Rebecca Martin, biology professor and co-chair, with Kathleen Perillo, of Clark’s participation in the teach-in. “There was tremendous work completed by the committee, and it was really a grassroots effort. Everyone brought in their own skills and talents to contribute to today’s event.”

More than 1,100 colleges and universities participated in the national teach-in – the single largest national teach-in in history. Organized nationally by Focus the Nation, the event was designed to encourage participants to address the challenges posed by climate change and feel empowered to play a role in the issue locally.

Green Earth image

The President's Forum

Clark College President Bob Knight hosted a discussion forum in which members of the college community shared ideas and suggestions on how Clark can better ensure a green future. 

These potential next steps focused on areas ranging from education and facilities to transportation and food services.  The suggestions included:


College Education

  • Continue to promote awareness about sustainability on campus
  • Consider sustainability in the strategic plan and as a curriculum thread across disciplines
  • Provide a web link to carbon footprint online quiz
  • Use athletic events to promote awareness
  • Maintain health course offerings
  • Offer urban gardening class
  • Engage early childhood program in awareness and gardening opportunities
  • Promote service learning initiative on sustainability
  • Offer sustainability messages board as a list serve option for employees and students
  • Research sustainability coordinator funded by cost savings from environmental initiatives
  • Incorporate regular reminders in speeches, on the Web, at events
  • Publicize monthly Saturday recycling events more actively to students
  • Post mini eco-facts and tips on penguin boards around campus


  • Install solar panels (such as the panels that will be installed at the college's newest facility:  Clark College at Columbia Tech Center)
  • Measure Clark’s carbon footprint
  • Compost plant clippings
  • Maximize use of biodegradable cleaning products
  • Add birdfeeders, bat houses, etc. to promote animal habitat
  • Use native plants in landscaping
  • Reduce or eliminate use of pesticides and herbicides
  • Set furniture purchasing criteria to promote purchases that are produced locally and use sustainable products


  • Establish a shuttle between Clark College's main campus and Clark College at WSU Vancouver
  • Enhance carpool coordination (e.g. web resource for students)
  • Offer preferred parking spaces for carpools and alternative fuel vehicles

Food Services

  • Purchase local food/produce for use in culinary arts and food vendors
  • Add composting
  • Eliminate use of bottled water and promote reusable water bottles
  • Offer water distribution sites for students to refill water bottles
  • Partnership between the college's horticulture program and culinary arts to grow a community garden or herb garden


  • Rebuild our computers every three years instead of replacing them
  • Only purchase printers with duplex printing capacity and set printers to default to double sided printing


  • Implement rent-a-book program (scheduled to start this fall)
  • Continue to investigate alternative book resources, both textbooks and library resources
  • Eliminate use of plastic bags
  • Add reusable bag option (buy a shopping bag for $1)

Reduction of Resources, Waste and Hazardous Materials

  • Continue to reduce hazardous waste (e.g. the chemistry department has started a green chemistry initiative)
  • Eliminate the use of styrofoam at the college
  • Plastic bag drop off in library
  • Promote the use of biodegradable products such as plates, silverware, cups
  • Address litter issues


  • Lobby for legislative incentives to encourage schools to use sustainable practices (e.g. cost reduction for eco-printing in Oregon schools)
  • Partner with local K-12 schools on sustainability effort

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