A week of Honors in Action with Phi Theta Kappa

Photo by Christopher Taylor/Prospectus News Phi Theta Kappa member Jose Gomez and President Jenny Olmsted display their society’s banner to celebrate the beginning of their “Honors in Action” project on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014.

Photo by Christopher Taylor/Prospectus News
Phi Theta Kappa member Jose Gomez and President Jenny Olmsted display their society’s banner to celebrate the beginning of their “Honors in Action” project on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014.

Humna Sharif

Staff Writer

Phi Theta Kappa is one of the most prestigious honors societies of two year colleges. Parkland’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa can be joined by students with a minimum GPA of 3.5. Being a member of an honors society allows likeminded individuals to come together and be a part of different programs, which aim to make a positive impact on society.

Monday, Nov. 17 marked the beginning of Phi Theta Kappa’s Honors in Action project. The events of the Honors in Action project were based around the theme of “exploring the natural environment.”

The week was called the Environmental Awareness and Food Drive week. Two goals were set for this project, the first being collecting canned and nonperishable foods for the local Eastern Illinois Food Bank, located in Urbana. The second goal was to collect monetary donations for kiva.org.

“Kiva.org is a website that provides micro loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries and in United States. Kiva.org is trying to help build more sustainable businesses, as a way to fight off poverty,” Jenny Olmsted, Regional President of Phi Theta Kappa, said.

Kiva.org itself is an example of a truly sustainable non-profit organization, as it only lends money to entrepreneurs. Once the new business starts flourishing, and is able to support itself, the money is paid back to Kiva, which then lends the money to another entrepreneur.

“As of now we are raising money for Kiva.org so it can be lent to a female dairy farmer in Kyrgyzstan, so she can buy dairy cows and sell eco-friendly milk in her hometown,” Olmsted added. “We encourage people to invest with Kiva because their money will always keep moving in good causes.”

Phi Theta Kappa had a table set up in the new Student Union building from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. throughout the week. The first day of the Environmental Awareness Week called “Green Out Day” aimed to raise awareness amongst Parkland Students about different agricultural practices, and what the impacts of those practices have on the environment. Students who stopped by the table to learn about these issues or to donate food or money also got a green ribbon to wear and, if they were lucky, a donut to munch on.
The second day called “Ecosystem Day” focused on raising awareness about the impact on different species through different agricultural practices. The third day titled “Skip a Meal Day” invited all students to donate their leftover change after buying meals, for the benefit of those who have no option but to skip a meal or two each day.
The fourth day of the Environmental Awareness Week was called “Trash Day.” The focus of the day was drawing attention to the amount of trash generated at Parkland and what strategies could be adopted to reduce the amount of waste.
Friday was the last day of the Environmental Awareness Week and the main goal was to draw attention to the contributions of farmers and their role in developing a sustainable society.

Throughout the week Phi Theta Kappa was accepting food and money donations to help the local population.

Phi Theta Kappa members spent months researching the topic of their Honors in Action project, and also handed out informative fliers about agricultural practices and environmental issues to students throughout the college.

“Our research shows that 28 percent of all land used annually for food production grows food that will be wasted. Also that by 2050, the world population will reach 9 billion and, that to feed everyone, agricultural production will have to increase by 60 percent,” Amber Simmons, Executive Vice President Phi Theta Kappa, provided.
The research done by Phi Theta Kappa also focused on sustainable agricultural practices.

“There are three tiers to sustainable agriculture. First it has to be economically sustainable so a profit can be made off of it to keep it going. Second, it has to be socially sustainable and, third, it has to be environmentally sustainable,” Simmons elaborated. “Since the State of Illinois has plenty of viable farm land, we want people to know how to make the best out of their piece of land.”

The Environmental Awareness Week at Parkland turned out to be successful; sizeable donations were collected, and Phi Theta Kappa members remain hopeful that in following years they will keep improving and do much more to help their planet and the people on it.

Students interested in learning more about sustainable business practices can visit www.kiva.org/about. Local gardeners and farmers can also visit www.ampleharvest.org to connect with local food pantries.