An Advocate for Sustainability

Sustainability is something that Lebanon Valley College takes seriously. When it comes to its students, however, environmental issues have not always been expressed or discussed. Kelly Jacobs ’18 is striving to change that dynamic through her environmental steppingstones at LVC. 

Jacobs, an economics major, has held an interest in the environment since childhood. While in high school, her interest turned to passion as fracking threatened her hometown, Dallas, Pa. Natural gas companies looked to take control with plans to drill into the Marcellus shale, which is a sedimentary rock found thousands of feet below the surface in the Northeast. They also attempted to create a network of pipelines. With her mother, Jacobs attended zoning board hearings, township meetings, and more to make her voice heard. 

And, that voice is still being heard today at LVC. 

As a freshman, Jacobs discovered that LVC no longer had an Environmental Club. Through the encouragement and mentorship of Dr. Will Delevan, associate professor of economics, she was able to establish LVC’s Environmental Club last spring.  

“I figured I couldn’t be the only person who felt passionate about protecting the environment, so I felt obligated to start my own club,” says Jacobs. 

The Environmental Club’s preliminary semester saw great success under the leadership of Jacobs. The club teamed up with the Department of Art & Art History to create the “Dead Zone” project through collecting, cleaning, and cutting the plastic bottles used in the sculpture, as well as hanging pieces of the sculpture. The “Dead Zone” project is displayed in Lynch Memorial Hall. Other Environmental Club activities have included hosting a guest speaker from FracTracker.org, who gave a presentation on the environmental impacts of fracking and fracking in Pennsylvania, participating in Earth Day activities by conducting an environmental trivia game in Mund, and making recycled paper from Environmental Club promotional flyers. 

This year, Jacobs still leads the club, which has grown to approximately 45 members. The club recently hosted Dr. Owen Moe, LVC professor emeritus of chemistry, who gave a presentation on climate change, and in mid-November, members had the opportunity to tour a local farm. 

In addition to Jacobs’ on-campus environmental efforts, she has also done some important work for the Public Works Department of Lebanon County. Her sustainability internship with the department involved preparing the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) Annual Report required by the Department of Environmental Protection, evaluating the city’s catch basins (which are more commonly recognized as the storm drains covered by metal grates located along the side of the road), and preparing standard operating procedures for new employees to use before evaluating catch basins and outfalls. The internship was made possible through a grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development.

Jacobs has become a great advocate for environmental issues at LVC, and she hopes that she can continue to bring greater awareness to students.

“Unfortunately, the one major issue that we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives is global climate change. If people don’t open their eyes and realize that they need to change their consumption behavior now, then future generations won’t have a fair chance. I believe the first step in combatting this issue is through education, because most people have no idea what we are up against. My hope is that through Environmental Club and guest speakers, I can help people become more aware about climate change and personal consumption choices,” says Jacobs.