What started as casual nature walks along the riverbank in Port Byron, Ill., with her 8-year-old son has developed into a multi-faceted environmental undertaking for a St. Ambrose student wanting to make a positive, lasting impact on her hometown.
After her experience in Rev. Bud Grant’s Environmental Ethics class in 2007, senior Sarah Ford wrote a proposal outlining how Port Byron could become a sustainable community. She presented her ideas to the village council last fall, and while many of them proved beyond the village’s current means, the council was so impressed it put Sarah in charge of Port Byron’s first Green Committee and charged the group with expanding the river town’s environmentally conscious efforts.
Less than a year later, Sarah, who is also the new president of the environmental student group Greenlife on campus, has already accomplished a slew of projects in her hometown. And she’s only just begun. This summer, she wrote:
The village, like many communities its size, supports the idea of a sustainable community but would struggle financially to support it. For now, they passed an Earth Day resolution, which covers some aspects of a sustainable community. So on top of taking six courses at St. Ambrose, I organized Port Byron’s first Earth Day Festival on April 20. It was a successful event that will now be held annually!
For Earth Day, we planted four new trees and a butterfly garden, and for National Join Hands Day on May 3, my son Isaiah’s Cub Scout pack planted flowers all around downtown. It’s the little steps we’re taking now that will hopefully rejuvenate the community.
I’ve also been involved in organizing a farmer’s market and community garden at the request of the mayor. And the council gave its approval for a huge mural to be painted on the white walls around Village Hall. I was also appointed committee chair of my Cub Scouts Pack 308, and we were involved in an X-stream Cleanup event in August.
I feel blessed for this opportunity to serve my community. I am truly humbled to have become an influence in the environmental movement in Port Byron. I’m just going with it and trying my best. But I have a good feeling that the support for a sustainable community will grow, and I look forward to the future of this river town.