ECO Center students travel to Indy to campaign for forests

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It was a beautiful day outside on the afternoon of Monday, February 20, but the real talk about the outdoors was happening inside the walls of the statehouse in Indianapolis. Over 200 people had gathered to debate the new bill called “Senate Bill 420”.

Environmentalists came prepared with signs.

Environmentalists came prepared with signs.

The statehouse saw people from all over Indiana, including the Trine University ECO Center. Professor Brandy DePriest and her daughter Mia, along with Trine University students Luke Martin and Jenny Serrano made the three-hour car-ride down I-69 to voice their support for Senate Bill 420. They received a rare opportunity when they got to sit down with Sue Glick, Senator of District 3 and Chair of the Natural Resources Committee.

The objective of Senate Bill 420 is to mandate the protection of 10% of our state wildlife areas from logging. When the group talked briefly with Senator Glick, they were able not only to express their support, but also to gather some valuable information on the future of Senate Bill 420.

Ultimately the bill was delayed until next year, as legislators are waiting on more research from the Department of Natural Resources. However, this did not discourage any of the supporters as both DePriest and Martin remained optimistic.

Environmentalists even came with their own mascot to remind them what they were fighting for.

Environmentalists even came with their own mascot to remind them what they were fighting for.

Luke Martin, SPEAK President and Trine University ECO Center Intern, said “The fight is not over, and there is much work to be done.”

Even though the bill did not get passed on Monday, all four individuals did not come home empty handed or in complete disappointment.

Per DePriest, “Students learned a valuable lesson in our legislative system and the importance of letting our political leaders know how we feel about the issues that affect us.”

Martin explained, “The whole process was eye-opening and intense. You pass a note requesting a meeting to the secretary, who then takes it to the senator and [you]hope they come out to meet you. The experience taught me a lot about the…system.”

To learn more about the ECO Center, visit the ECO Center webpage.

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Ben Vigliarolo is a communication major with an emphasis in broadcast sports journalism. He is the co-creator of the HAC 3 Strikes podcast and plays baseball for Trine University.