Explore the Underground World of NKU Recycling: What I learned from the Pinnacle-nominated project

Gone are the days when a story printed on paper and sent to your doorstep is enough to tell an impactful story to a large, diverse audience. It is my firm belief that digital, multimedia reporting (with all the interactive and engaging features and ability to spread to a more mass audience) is the direction that journalism is headed. However, with this newish “multimedia” approach to journalism comes the multimedia. And when you break that word down, it means one thing: more than one media. And that means more work.

So I won’t lie, the multimedia project I did last semester on NKU recycling was just that—hard work. But it was work well worth the extra effort.

The story went over well online and drew people in with its alluring narrative storytelling, interactive features and video clips. It also reached people from Alaska to Russia—something a Northerner story could never do in print.

The multimedia project as a whole ended up being chosen as one of the country’s top three nominees for a 2013-14 College Media Association Pinnacle Award for Best Multimedia News Story.

But with that success, comes the time to look back at what worked, what didn’t work, things to improve on, etc. Below are my takeaways from each element of the project.

 

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What’s the best way to visually illustrate NKU’s recycling process? Wake up at the crack of dawn and follow NKU’s material handlers deep into the university’s underground tunnels as they tackle the recycling process head on—at least that’s what we did. Was this really important breaking news? No. Was this the most exciting thing ever? No. But did the resulting video give an interesting glimpse into a place and routine that most people in the NKU community never get to see? Yes.

What I like most about our use of video in this project is the auto play feature at the splash page that draws viewers in, through offering them a quick look into a part of our campus they never get to see. I also like how we used video to visually illustrate the process of recycling at each part of the narrative telling of that step in the overall process. However, I definitely think we could work on getting interviews recorded and using the action shots as b-roll, not just playing elevator music and getting a better variety of shots.

However, I don’t think we did too bad for recording everything on a cold winter morning at 6 a.m. in the underground labyrinth at NKU.

Photos

Recycle_3_News_Web This part was a challenge. What is interesting photographically about trash? How about recycling? How can you make these items more visually appealing? What would people want to see in a story on this topic? These are all the questions we asked ourselves as we tried to get photography for this project. And while we didn’t end up getting as many shots or as interesting of shots as we would’ve liked, I was pleased with our idea of being able to visually illustrate the materials handlers walking own in the dark tunnels under campus to help the NKU community recycle their otherwise unthought-of trash. Lesson learned for next time? Brainstorm ideas and plan ahead!

Design

Who lays out a journalistic web project? Is it the front-end web developer? How about the graphic designer? What about the editor or reporter? Answer: a collaboration of all of the above. If nothing else, from this project we learned that no one person can solely be responsible for a website’s design. For this project, we left the design of the website up to the front end web developer and it led to a bit of confusion, both about the structure and function of the elements of the story.

However, what I learned from this experience was priceless. Now at The Northerner, we know how to plan ahead. We hold meetings at the beginning of the planning process for each project. At this time we run through rough ideas and the best way to present a story. Then we list items we’d like to feature. After giving the web developer time (a few days) to create a wire frame, all positions involved in the project (usually a lead reporter, editor, front-end web developer, photographer, designer and the digital project manager) meet to talk about the frame and make any needed tweaks. Then we create a checklist of what we need based on where they will be laid out, deadlines, the person responsible for that element, etc. This seems to be a much more systematic approach to the process and lends itself to less confusion or holes for things to fall through.

Reporting

What I’ve learned about reporting for a multimedia story is pretty simple. Regardless of all the bells and whistles, what a multimedia story really needs at its core isn’t all too different from a  regular story. It needs solid writing. Whether the story takes the form of hard news packed tight with facts and data or a narrative account with sensory details and characterization, storytelling is still what journalism is all about at the end of the day. In this package I tried to combine different types of storytelling. I used a news writing style to detail how NKU stacks up in regards to recycling versus the rest of the state/country. I used a more narrative style in describing the routine and hidden world of NKU recycling. I think the combination was good because it covered both sides to the story.

Quiz

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 10.32.41 PMThis was a challenge. I’m a journalist, so I thought creating a quiz would be easy; all I’d have to do is research the topic and find information to ask questions about said topic, then provide the answers. However, I was wrong. This part wasn’t so easy. Trying to find questions to ask that wouldn’t be too hard, but also wouldn’t be too boring was a challenge. Then there was the question of tone: should I sound like an expert or will that make me sound condescending? What I ended up with were clear questions that communicated most of the information I wanted too, but in a way that I personally think ended up being a bit too generalized or dumbed down.

Then comes the technical aspect. While one of our other front-end web developers said he could code a quiz to look however we wanted it to, I wasn’t working with him on this project. Plus, I wanted to use one of my digital tools to get practice. Therefore after looking through all of our options we decided to go with Quiz Revolution because it seemed the easiest to use for both the creator and audience. However, the design of the quiz tool wasn’t the best and it wasn’t quite as user friendly as we would’ve liked.

Graph

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 10.24.34 PMDealing with data is always one of my favorite things. Call me a dork, but I love numbers and being able to use them in a story in a visually interesting and telling way. I read a book lately called “The Functional Art” by Alberto Cairo (recommended to me by a wonderful designer at Scientific American), which gave me a great overall insight into how to approach data visualization. Anyway, all this is to say that while collecting information regarding the amount of different materials that have been recycled at NKU since they started recycling efforts was a lot of work, I enjoyed doing it. It was a lot of work to go through all the sheets of information, but in the end resulted in an interesting and telling graph. This was also an opportunity to use an interactive data viz tool, which honestly has led to me using such tools more and more for my own Northerner stories and for others’. Lesson learned here: I think the tool we used work well and is a nice way to visually illustrate information to readers.

Infographic

recycle-infographicThe infographic was fun to work on at first. However, I soon learned that to do a “by-the-numbers infographic,” I would need lots of numbers. I spent a long time using equivalency calculators and looking up reference sheets on some credible websites. I even had my friend (an economics and accounting major) double check my math to ensure proper accuracy. After spending hours getting all the math and information, I worked with a graphic designer to get things communicated visually. While I think there is room for improvement on the actual visualization of the information I was trying to communicate, I think things ended up looking nice overall. Lesson learned: to create a successful infographic, it takes a lot of work to come up with strong, robust and interesting information, as well as a clear understanding from your designer of what you are trying to communicate in the graphic itself.

Interactive List

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 10.35.43 PMThis is an element I haven’t seen in a lot of other publications, however I liked that we did this here. I wanted to create a list of recyclables, but I didn’t want it to be a boring, static list. Therefore, we came up with the idea of creating colorful icon representations of the items and having their descriptions pop up over each icon. I think this was a nice touch that served as an easy way to provide some audience interaction. I also like how the icons turned out overall, but they do look a tad bit childish. Lesson learned: the colorful, original design with interactive features adds a lot of interest to what could be a standard, boring list.

 

Overall I am really pleased with how the project came out and am excited to see how it fairs when the 2014 finalists for the College Media Association’s Pinnacle Awards are announced on Oct. 31.

Unearthing the urban forest: video is NOT your enemy

Cars blasted music into the air, trains blew their whistling horns in the distance and birds chirped in the clear sky as I looked around and found myself standing in the middle of a forest in Price Hill last spring.

Yes, a forest in Price Hill—that’s what I said.  Actually, an urban forest… to be more exact.

I was there to report on a project two NKU students were doing to save the forest.

And as I saw the distinct scene that was a quintessential part of the story I was about to tell, I knew it called for more than just written text—I needed visuals to show people this place, instead of just telling them about it.

So I grabbed my camera and tripod, with very limited video training, and went to work.

Following a couple of students from NKU to the Price Hill Urban Forest in which they worked, I documented their efforts to save the forest (a place they said plays a critical part in the health of the urban community around it, through connecting the community with natural elements of the world).

NKU environmental science student Katie Ollier records data with fellow student Luke Freeman.

NKU environmental science student Katie Ollier records data with fellow student Luke Freeman.

After publishing my text story, with the video and photos, the feedback was almost instantaneous. The NKU community loved the story of students working to save a place so important to the tri state, and loved even more that they were actually able to see the project through the video.

Overall, the story and video both received a good amount of views (compared with the amount of page views a typical Northerner story gets). And although it was a bit more work and not 100 percent what I am used to doing as a reporter, there was something about doing it that just felt right. Plus editing the video and photos was a lot of fun too.

Lesson of the story here is this: when a story calls for video, use it. It’s not that difficult and can only add to the quality of your storytelling.

I  plan to do more videos in the future.  I hope the rest of The Northerner staff will plan to do the same.

See the full story at TheNortherner.com by clicking here.

Recap of recent, local environmental news coverage

Whether for great or disastrous reasons, the environment has been a relatively hot topic in local media coverage in the past few months (at least compared to coverage in the past).

From the restoration of a 19th century farm reported on by The Cincinnati Enquirer, to an in-depth, multimedia look at the aftermath of the Queen City barrel fire from WCPO.com, it’s clear the environment is becoming more of a priority for news coverage.

Even in unfortunate cases such as the Duke Energy diesel spill that sent a slurry of fuel down the Ohio river, the event also sparked a slurry of news coverage across newspapers, computer and television screens both locally and even nationwide.

And while no one would ever wish an environmental disaster such as this, to some extent it is relieving to see that at least when it does happen, the media is there to open up a discussion on the impacts of the event, how it came to happen, future avoidance, etc.

Still, many social media users, bloggers and coffee shop talkers have argued that coverage should be greater or (for those who don’t believe in the importance of environmental reporting) even less.

Below is a recap of some of this local environmental coverage from the past few months. Be sure to check back to The Northerner Green Beat’s #northernergreenbeat Twitter feed or simply follow the hashtag on Twitter for a curated list of environmental stories that affect you locally, nationally and globally.

In the meantime, I’ll work on producing more environmental coverage of issues taking place here at Northern Kentucky University.

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NKU’s Center for Environmental Restoration, Kentucky State Parks, the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  purchased the Piner Family Farm in Union, Kentucky last year. They paid a little over $1 million for the farm with the goal of restoring the farm environmentally. The majority of the work will be done by NKU’s CER and students from the university.

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As thousands of gallons of fuel spilled out into the Ohio river near Cincinnati, Ohio on Aug. 25, local media rushed to the scene to cover the incident, its cause, cleanup endeavors, future means of prevention and more. Media outlets such as WCPO followed up on the story, updating as more information became available.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 6.58.48 PMThe Enquirer featured the Enright Ridge Urban Eco-village, giving the tristate a deeper look into the Price Hill community’s daily, sustainable lives. Many community members weren’t aware that this community thrived just minutes from downtown. Members of the Eco-Village work together to live their lives in a more sustainable fashion by doing things such as growing their own foods, composting, using solar power, building rain gardens and more.

In 2004 Queen City Barrel burnt to the ground. Ten years later, WCPO tracked the effectsScreen Shot 2014-09-20 at 6.59.10 PM the industrial-container recycling business had on its neighborhood and surrounding areas—including various health effects that have been linked to the industrial air pollution.

Where’s the green? A look at the current standing of multimedia environmental reporting and The Northerner

Google has failed me. Then again, maybe its not Google’s fault I couldn’t find what I was looking for when I searched for college newspaper coverage of the environment online.

Rather, I guess I should blame my troubles with finding considerable amounts of college media coverage of the environment on those media outlets themselves—and maybe on the shrinking amount of environmental content in national media outlets (who influence those college media outlets) as well.

In fact, with only three percent of its newspaper’s coverage (according to the subject of its headlines) rooted in environmental coverage, the HuffingtonPost.com is the most ‘green’ nationally prominent news outlet in America, according to a study by greeninthemedia.org.

And across the board, the numbers don’t look very promising.

In fact, even The New York Times (a pretty liberal newspaper with a large amount of science coverage) recently cut their environmental news desk in its entiretyScreen Shot 2014-09-08 at 3.25.57 PM—promising to still cover the environment, simply blaming the move on structural changes.

However, it’s really no secret that coverage of the environment is declining.

Within the transition from print to a more digitally based age, shrinking budgets to cover reporters’ salaries, have some news outlets just struggling to cover the basics.

So, it wasn’t really a big surprise to me when I pulled up Google to do some searching for the best multimedia environmental news coverage at public universities across the country, and I really couldn’t find much.

Regardless, an article out of Romania explaining the possibilities of new media within science journalism seems promising. It states that the interactive possibilities that new media or multimedia journalism allows could be a key to solving the lack of interest or understanding that readers may have with scientific (or environmental) communication.

This could be key to a successful future of science communication, as proved by some bigger news media outlets projects listed below.

However, those possibilities seem to still be on the cutting edge of journalism.

So as of now, I was just able to find a few, but still really great examples of environmental journalism from larger media outlets, and also a few good things from college or university news outlets.

Below are links to some of these examples.

Major news outlet’s environmental coverage:

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  • The Seattle Times Sea Change Project– The Seattle Times does a pretty decent job of covering environmental stories on a regular basis. However, with their Sea Change project they really took things to an incredible new level. This project covers a wide range of environmental topics, taking full advantage of online and digital possibilities. This website is great and uses new media tools to its full advantage through presenting captivating video visuals, simple and educational video info graphics, interactive charts and much more. I showed this project to my parents, who really have no special interest in science and even they were amazed by the project.

o   Northerner takeaway– Use digital tools to display strong, naturally alluring visuals to capture audience’s attention. Use digital tool of interactivity in things such as info graphics and quizzes to simplify scientific concepts and help breakdown barriers within scientific communication.

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  • The Guardian’s The Great Barrier Reef: An obituary– The Guardian Environment page is incredible in its entirety. As per usual with anything related to The Guardian, there is thorough and in-depth coverage using great photos, lots of data, etc. There is also just an incredible amount of environmental coverage on The Guardian’s page in general; I was blown away by the amount of interesting stories I found. Not to mention, there are blogs on specific subtopics of the environment on their page, and even some blogs there on how the environment affects business. More specifically, The Great Barrier Reef project that The Guardian did was incredible due to its use of many of the same technologies as The Seattle Time’s Sea Change project. The interesting subject with a very far-reaching impact and beautiful visuals really drew me into this project. Also, the beautiful and interesting narrative language used in the text part of this story really drew me through the entire experience.

o   Northerner takeaway– Use the far-reaching impact that environmental issues have as a way to drive reader interest. Don’t be afraid to combine digital design elements with narrative style writing to create a very interesting and appealing audience experience.

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  • The Huffington Post Green’s Keystone Pipeline Map– As stated earlier, The Huffington Post Green section is really a leader in environmental coverage in the US (as it pertains to the amount of coverage at least). I was again blown away when looking at their website and seeing how much they dedicate to green and/or environmental issues. Something I think is interesting about The Huffington Post’s Green site is their amount of social media presence and their use of digital tools in even just smaller stories. For example, the page I linked to above is to a story about the Keystone Pipeline and instead of just telling the story in a usual, textual way, the website used an interactive map of the pipeline to show how people along the pipeline’s path would be effected. It is a really cool way to show of how just using these new tools within even smaller stories can be very effective.

o   Northerner takeaway– Don’t reinvent the wheel. Technological and digital tools can be used in even the simplest of ways, if you just think innovatively at the most interesting and telling ways to tell a story.

University or college media outlet’s environmental coverage:

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  • The Daily Orange’s News Section– While I found that not many college or university news organizations (as far as I could find) have a lot of environmental coverage, I was able to find some. I was able to come across this fascinating profile piece on a grad student who uses his bike as a deliveryman at Jimmy John’s. It was interesting to see how the video version of this profile literally offered you a peek into this man’s unusual activities in his hopes of creating a more sustainable food-delivery culture.

o   Northerner takeaway- When it comes to unusual experiences, sometimes video is the most efficient and effective way to give your reader a glimpse into the life of someone else. Seeing and hearing the man’s story had a more far-reaching effect on me as an audience member and I think that connection is of the utmost important in this kind of reporting on environmental issues.

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  • The Daily Tarheel Letter to the Editor– While there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of environmental editorial coverage that I could find that incorporated a lot of technological or digital tools, I did find this letter to the editor that was posted online. And, to be quite honest this got me thinking. A key to effective scientific journalism (at least for what I have found) is in audience participation and interaction. Digital transformations in the news media have almost killed off the need for a letter to the editor. Nowadays you can email or even just use social media to get your views across to an organization. And this is good, because it allows for easier and more fluid audience interaction that I could see as important in allowing non-scientists interacting with science coverage and breaking down the boundaries of science communication.

o   Northerner takeaway– Environmental issues affect everyone, but as a scientific topic can be somewhat uninteresting or distant to your audience due to the elevated complexity of the subject. Allowing interaction and dialogue between your audience and the subject matter is the best way to allow everyone to see that it affects them, as well as breaking down that barrier between complex science and everyday communication.

10 green (or not so green) things you should know about NKU

From the green roof on Griffin Hall, to a center paving the way in environmental education of local P-12 educators, a once thought-to-be concrete jungle of NKU has turned out to be a world alive with green initiatives.

NKU's first LEED Certified building Griffin Hall. The building is equipped with a green roof to help with water run-off and heating/cooling.

NKU’s first LEED Certified building Griffin Hall. The building is equipped with a green roof to help with water run-off and heating/cooling.

But what does being green really mean and are these initiatives enough?

Follow me as I make the journey in discovering the answer to these questions and more– through my blog The Northerner Green Beat.

This “beat” will feature  coverage of all things green at NKU. And no, I’m not talking about the color. I mean “all things green” as it pertains to the environment and how it affects the people, places and things we encounter everyday as part of our NKU community.

Below  is just a sampling of my initial research into the environmental world at NKU. Read to check out what’s going on. Some of it may just surprise you.

1. Are our cars killing NKU’s carbon footprint?

About 87 percent of NKU undergraduates drive themselves to campus– and that doesn’t even count faculty and staff, according to NKU Office of Institutional Research. The cars we drive leave a huge trail of carbon dioxide behind and it’s this very trail that is responsible for about 42 percent of NKU’s total carbon footprint, according to NKU Green Co-Director and Campus Planning Coordinator Jane Goode.

NKU Green Co-Director and University Planner Jane Goode.

NKU Green Co-Director and University Planner Jane Goode. Photo courtesy of NKU.

All of this comes despite NKU initiatives such as NKU U-Pass which gives all NKU students, faculty and staff  free fare on TANK bus routes.

NKU’s President’s Climate Commitment Task Force sent out a survey to students, faculty and staff this past week to assess NKU’s current commuter carbon footprint.  The survey aims to get a general estimate of how many people are commuting, how far they are commuting, their gas usage, etc.

Prizes will be awarded to eight lucky students who complete this survey, according to Goode.

2. Green initiatives being made toward ‘green water’

NKU Biological Sciences Professor and ECOS Adviser Kristy Hopfensperger.

NKU Biological Sciences Professor and ECOS Adviser Kristy Hopfensperger. Photo courtesy of Hopfensperger.

Faculty, staff, and even some students are making strides to help reduce our university’s impact on local water. Last year a team of students, with help from faculty members, at NKU participated in the U.S. EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge which asked colleges and universities across the country to “propose transformative additions to the campus landscape that would reduce stormwater impacts,” according to Kristy Hopfensperger, NKU biological sciences professor and Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students adviser.

Although NKU’s team doesn’t know if they’ve won yet, Hopfensperger said the project and its finalized plans, including pervious concrete and water bank usage around parking lots, spread some excitement about the different green opportunities that are available for future construction projects at NKU.

All these water initiatives and we still have a funky green-colored Loch Norse? But that’s a different issue.

3. From ‘trash to treasure,’  driftwood could soon be teaching you about local water issues

NKU new media art professor Brad McCombs is spearheading a project called the Driftwood Institute aimed at naturally beautifying and shoring up a portion of the Covington, Ky., riverbank. The project, once okayed by Covington City officials, will take driftwood from the area along the Ohio River and use it to construct art in that area, with the mission to educate people about varying water issues.

4.  Student involvement on green issues could be missing key

“The student piece is what we’re missing,” said Rosie Santos about environmental issues at NKU. A 2013  graduate of NKU, former ECOS president and current interim director of the Center for Environmental Education at NKU, Santos says NKU is moving in the right direction as it pertains to environmental issues and sustainability, but that “we still have a lot of questions at this point.”

2014 NKU Graduate, former ECOS president and Interim Director for NKU's Center for Environmental Education Rosie Santos.

2014 NKU Graduate, former ECOS president and Interim Director for NKU’s Center for Environmental Education Rosie Santos.

One of these main questions, according to Santos, is how to get more students involved in these issues, rather than just faculty and staff. Because, as she said, sustainability cannot be just an individualized goal.

As a part of her role, Santos is currently working on a project where she has given out Environmental Education Faculty Infusion Grants to professors and students who are coming together to create and teach interdisciplinary courses with environmental focuses.

Santos said this kind of educational experience could help get students thinking more about the environment and how it relates to other fields of work and study.

5. Environmental change starts in the classroom, and not just at the college level

Guides, textbooks and other  resources fill chests that local teachers can check out from NKU to help make their traditional classes more green. These items present themselves as  just a few of  many resources that Rosie Santos said are available at the Center for Environmental Education to loan out to P-12 classes across the area– to help make students more “environmentally literate” at an early age.

Along with these chests, the center offers workshops,  field trips, grants and more as a part of its state-mandated work to educate educators across the northern part of the bluegrass state, Santos said.

This center isn’t new to NKU, but Santos said it has “gone under many changes as of lately.” According to Santos the center will soon be branched within the College of Arts and Sciences, where Santos is working on a 5-year plan that will align the work of the center with that of the state of Kentucky’s regulations and of NKU’s new strategic plan.

6. Simple things could amount to a lot?

About 95-98 percent of cleaning products used at NKU are considered “green products,” according to NKU Green Co-Director and University Planner Jane Goode.

NKU senior sociology major, ECOS campus recruiter and NKU's Center for Environmental Restoration Field Technician Luke Freeman.

NKU senior sociology major, ECOS campus recruiter and NKU’s Center for Environmental Restoration Field Technician Luke Freeman.

“Thats a good start,” said Lauren Gabbard, NKU senior and leader of NKU’s Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students. “But it’s not enough.”

Gabbard said that when it concerns the environment people should start by doing smaller things in their daily lives, but make sure to “pressure larger businesses and corporations to consider the environment.”

Luke Freeman, NKU senior sociology major, ECOS campus recruiter and NKU’s Center for Environmental Restoration field technician, agreed that changing the simple things in everyone’s everyday lives is a nice starting point.

“We really want to try and promote people to live sustainably,” he said. “We’re always looking to get students thinking about the environment as an issue.”

7.  A class attempts to nail down the tristate’s worst environmental issues

Mountain top removal, the Rumpke Landfill and traffic pollution are just a few things highlighted by NKU Biological Sciences Professor Chris Curran’s Environmental Toxicology class as “The Worst Environmental Problems in the Tristate.”

The course is an environmental science course where Curran asks students to become actively involved in seeking out immediate environmental issues, understand why they are issues, and think up the most effective ways to take care of the problems through innovation and scientific understanding.

8. Former president signed pledge to track university’s carbon footprint

As the first state-funded Kentucky university to sign the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, NKU is working diligently toward reducing and eventually eliminating its greenhouse gas emissions. The pledge, signed by former NKU president James Votruba, has the more long-term goal of making NKU a carbon-neutral and completely sustainable campus.

Currently 15,325 pounds of material are collected on campus each day, according to NKU Green’s website. 70 percent of which could be recycled. That’s equal to the average weight of 4.7 cars. Comparatively, only 1,400 pounds of material are currently recycled in that same amount of time on campus.

More information about NKU’s carbon footprint, green tips and more can be found at their website.

9. Mount Trashmore and more

If you’ve been at NKU for any amount of time at all, you’ve probably seen or at least heard of the large pile of trash stacked together in the center of the University Plaza once a year as a part of NKU Green’s Mount Trashmore project which aims to reveal the amount of trash NKU actually uses in a given day. Last year the mountain of trash amounted to 15,890 pounds.

A past Earth Day celebration in NKU's main plaza. Courtesy of NKU Green.

A past Earth Day celebration in NKU’s main plaza. Courtesy of NKU Green.

NKU Green is also responsible for different events each year such as the now week-long Earth Day celebration which aims to get the entire campus community thinking about green issues and sustainability and what you can do to help out.

Past Earth week events include group film viewing and community gardening seminars. This year’s events kick-off the week of April 20. Click here for more information.

10. NKU paving the way to a greener future?

As we speak  NKU is literally paving its way to a greener future through more environmentally friendly construction projects, such as the possible use of geothermal heating and cooling in the university’s plans for its new campus recreation center.

NKU has also implemented the use of things such as green roofs with its construction of Griffin Hall and the recent reconstruction of the roof of the central receiving station in the recent plaza construction on campus.

But even with these progressive steps, there are still many areas for improvement. So far, Griffin Hall is only Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building on NKU’s campus.

Various other renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric, solar power and more could still be taken more advantage of by NKU in its new constructions and even in its older buildings.

“I think NKU’s environmental movement is in a period of planning,” Santos said. “But overall we are definitely moving in the right direction.”

Overall, this list barely scratches the surface.

Just in the last few weeks, Greater Cincinnati officials have had to shut off our water intake due to toxic chemical spills from West Virginia and multiple news outlets in the area have reported on the detrimental impacts that chemicals like salt— used to de-ice snow-covered roads– have on surrounding bodies of water.

With all these things happening, it’s bizarre to think I haven’t covered any of this in the past. But, I am definitely looking forward to writing about every last chemical spill, student research finding and pile of trash that comes along the way.

If you have any story ideas you’d like to hear about or questions you’d like answered, email me at KevinESchultz@gmail.com  or tweet me using the hashtag #NorthernerGreenBeat.

This blog is a part of Kevin Schultz’s senior project for his Northern Kentucky University honor’s capstone. Follow him @KevinEdSchultz on Twitter or look for his hashtag, #NorthernerGreenBeat, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more on this project and others like it.

See more of Kevin’s work at his TheNortherner.com profile. Or, click to download/view his Resume.