Several times a year Calvin College students, church members, business people, and others drag tires, soggy wood, and piles of garbage out of Plaster Creek, the most polluted stream in the Grand Rapids, Mich., area.
It seems like a never-ending struggle, but they are committed to restoring the stream and the surrounding watershed. Through their efforts, they are following God’s mandate to preserve and protect his glorious creation.
“What we have done and are doing helps us embody in a concrete way the mandate of creature care that starts in the book of Genesis in the Bible,” says Gail Heffner, director of community engagement at Calvin. “We teach students to live stewardly lives.”
Other colleges are doing the same. Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, is restoring a wetland on campus, as well as 20 acres of tall-grass prairie along a nearby bike trail. Faculty members say that restoring the prairie provides a habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.
Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, offers an environmental studies program to “help you fulfill your calling to love God and your neighbor by learning about the impact of humans on the environment and how we can live in ways that reduce our negative impact,” according to the university’s website.
Redeemer also has a “Green Team,” a student club that works to promote stewardship within the university community.
“The biggest thing that we as students do is to lead by example,” says Jody Van Dorp, one of the team’s coordinators. “We also run the on-campus composting program to divert organic waste from the landfills. . . . We hike to local waterfalls and clean up the garbage that has inevitably been left behind.”
Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., has a Campus Ecological Stewardship advisory group that has worked to create a water retention basin—a way to manage storm water runoff. Trees and shrubs were planted in the basin in 2008, providing an educational laboratory in addition to habitat restoration.
In its 2010 Strategic Direction statement, The King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta, identifies creation care as one of the institution’s characteristic features. The statement says the college “fosters a commitment among members of the academic community to care for creation.”
Faculty and students have also focused on the environmental damage associated with the mining of oil sands in Alberta.