The Outdoor Education Center at Pomona College currently incorporates numerous policies and practices in the areas of environmental awareness, sustainability, and social justice. While many of these practices have been in place for several years, the OEC continues to strive for the best possible educational and practical outcomes for the program with OA trips, OTL, leader training, and workshops.
Examples of this include our beach trips who work with the Wishtoyo Foundation, a Native American Chumash village and advocacy group who works with different environmental organizations and sues environmental polluters when it directly affects different social groups along the California coastline.
Our trips also works with the Friends of the Inyo, a non-profit in the eastern Sierras who does a night talk/slideshow for the OA Lake trip. The talk centers around the social injustices created for the Southern California population when environmental problems affect the water supply in the Sierras, and thus the Southern California water supply. The group then does a service project the next day with the Friends of the Inyo. The groups also visit the former Japanese Internment camp, Manzanar, on their trip.
Many other OA trips engage in different service projects such as beach clean ups and trail maintenance.
In the past several years, many OA trips were planned with numerous service projects and OA will continue to add even more service projects in the future. Our plan is to expand this to all programs offered through the OEC.
In 2010, OA had individual leaders calculate how green their trip was. This was done with some suggestions from the Sustainability Integration Office. After all 31 trips' results are calculated and used to further improve the sustainable efforst on our trips.
In keeping with our commitment to environmental awareness and sustainability, and as social injustices occur frequently with a poorly treated environment, the OEC incorporates the following sustainability efforts:
- We consolidate transportation when possible using high occupancy vehicles.
- We use online forms for leader applications, first year sign ups, and post trip evaluations.
- We make all information available by email and/or from website to avoid snail mail (packing lists, itineraries, etc.).
- We only use human powered activities whenever possible (kayaking, biking, surfing, etc.).
- The OA program uses fruits and vegetables from the Pomona Farm in order to reduce the amount of store purchases.
- We strive to purchase locally grown food whenever possible.
- No beef is ever sent out on OA trips.
- There is one fully vegetarian meal on every OA trip.
- OA's extra food is donated to local food shelters through the Otay Foundation.
- The OA program works with the Green Bikes program on campus in helping to promote alternative transportation for students on.
- We use sustainable bulk containers for propane stoves, rather than using small non-refillable ones.
- We recycle all of our recyclable waste (cardboard from packaged food, printed paper, batteries from flashlights/two way radios/lanterns, etc.).
- The Alumni Association provides reusable water bottles for the OA participants, eliminating any disposable bottles.
- We teach and practice the seven principles of environmental stewardship as outlined by the Leave no Trace: Center for Outdoor Ethics. Each of these principles has a ripple effect to the local and global community, minimizing environmental and social damage.
- We only use recycled paper when possible.
- Trips bring back all compostable food scraps to take to the Pomona Farm.
- OA orders eco-friendly T-shirts from a local vendor in Claremont.