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The Official Student Media of Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Purple Media Network

Purple Media Network

Environmental Catalyst Organization of NSU strives to bring awareness to environmental problems

ECO member, Jayda Gee, poses for a photo to promote their Don’t Litter campaign.
ECO hosts their first butterfly release in honor of Earth Day.

Whether walking through a forest or on a college campus sidewalk, not a day goes by without one seeing a piece of trash on the ground. In today’s world, it has been like this for as long as people can remember. At this point, it may seem as though the world is rapidly degrading and there is not much people can do to save it.

This is not the case. Working to preserve the planet, the Environmental Catalyst Organization of Northwestern State University of Louisiana has a mission to bring awareness to environmental issues by taking small steps at NSU.

ECO has a history at NSU, going back many years, but it first went inactive due to lack of funding. It was then restarted by one of the former student presidents, Isabela Musgrove, a current senior at NSU with a major in psychology.

“One of my biology professors, professor Antoon, wanted to start up ECO again and asked me to help him with it because my family owns plant nurseries and I really like nature and the environment,” Musgrove said.

Musgrove jumped at the opportunity to take her love of the environment and let it blossom into something more. She wanted people to realize that anyone can have an impact on the world.

“My whole premise of me becoming the president of ECO was because I majored in psychology and addiction studies, the complete opposite of nature and all that kind of stuff,” Musgrove said. “I really wanted to stress to students, professors and anyone that would hear that you don’t have to have a background in nature or biology or agriculture or anything like that to either to just do something for your community, start a club or be a president of a club.”

However, Musgrove ended up having to leave and live in Shreveport. She tried to turn the organization over to the vice president, but she could not take the position. In addition to this, the organization’s funding was dropped because professor Antoon had left and moved to Arkansas.

“I was very, very sad about it because it was like something that we built together, so whenever he left there were a lot of things that the university was contacting me about, and since I wasn’t in Natchitoches, I wasn’t able to pick it back up,” Musgrove said. “I was so happy and glad when Nina contacted me about it and asked me all these questions because she’s done such an amazing job; I’m so proud of her for that, and she’s done so much in such a short time too.”

Recently, ECO was restarted by the current student president, Nina Ovalle, who is a junior with a major in hospitality, management and tourism. Ovalle was a member of ECO when Isabela was president, but she left campus for an internship the same semester Musgrove moved to Shreveport. When Ovalle came back to Natchitoches, her passions led her to restarting ECO.

“I felt it was something we really needed on campus and it was something I was very interested in,” Ovalle said.

With this, she took initiative. She contacted Yonna Pasch to help her with the organization’s reinstatement and Musgrove for permission, she said.

In October of 2023, Ovalle officially restarted ECO and posted on the organization’s Instagram page to share the news with students.

Now that she is coming up on her senior year of college, Ovalle feels sentimental when thinking of her college campus.

“I feel like when you care about your environment, you want to help your environment, so I want to do something that will last at the university or do something to help the university,” Ovalle said.

Although the organization just started, members of ECO feel that the smallest actions can lead to big changes.

“What I want to do is just make people aware of the things that they do that can affect the environment and the little things that they could change,” she said. “Like our first project was our electricity initiative, so we hung up little signs all around campus right by the lights as a reminder to turn off the lights on your way out; it’s such a small thing that can help in such a big way if enough people do it.”

ECO recognizes that students need to be informed about the impact they have on the environment as individuals. Students in the organization do this by spreading awareness around campus through events such as “These Hands Don’t Litter,” where they created a banner for students to stamp their hands on to show they are against littering.

“Especially on a college campus, there’s so many people here that we can reach,” said Ovalle. “Because even if they didn’t print their hand on our banner, they still know that there’s people here working against littering.”

Yasmine Holmes, who has a major in biology with a concentration in clinical laboratory science, is the secretary of ECO. Although she is not attending college with the intentions of an environmental career in the future, Holmes plans to take precautions to avoid furthering environmental damage. Within her labs, for example, she is sure to only change her gloves if absolutely necessary.

Holmes elaborated on where her care for the environment stemmed from.

“I guess I grew up in a childhood house where, if we left the light on, we get in trouble; like you’re wasting power,” Holmes said. “But it wasn’t anything taught, it’s just natural.”

Holmes’ love for the environment has grown up with her as she transitioned from her childhood home to her college dorm. When going about her daily life, Holmes will pick up trash and throw it away as she sees it. This is usually an everyday occurrence, especially in the parking lot of University Place 2.

“It’s really dirty,” Holmes said. “There’s so much trash, and that kind of makes me mad, too, because I step out my car and I’m stepping on top of a Chick-fil-A bag, a coffee cup that’s half filled with coffee and stuff like that; I don’t like that.”

On campus, alone, people carelessly throw trash on the ground.

“Lately, everybody’s been really upset about how it’s been cold in the spring, warm in the winter, but the thing is, people just complain and don’t do anything about it,” Holmes explained.

She wants people to recognize that they are part of the problem they are upset about, and being in ECO allows her to spread awareness to others. Not only this, but ECO is taking action to solve the problem by starting on campus, she said.

The organization is going to place 10 new trash cans around campus, one of them being in UP 2. In addition to this and to celebrate Earth Day, ECO is having a butterfly release event on April 22 at 4 p.m. outside of the Friedman Student Union.

The organization hosts biweekly meetings on Wednesday in Bienvenue Hall room 122.

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Madelyn Murphy
Madelyn Murphy, Current Sauce - Arts & Living Editor
Maddy Murphy is a freshman communication major at NSU. Spending her first semester as a reporter for The Current Sauce, she cannot wait to write news articles and stories inspired by both on-campus and off-campus events in Natchitoches. Her goal is to entertain students by including them in her writing, so be on the lookout—she may ask to interview you for a story!
Lia Portillo Cantarero
Lia Portillo Cantarero, Current Sauce - Editor-in-Chief
Lia Portillo Cantarero is a junior communication major. This is her third year in The Current Sauce and as Editor-in-Chief she hopes to raise awareness around the stories that are happening in the campus community. For Lia, becoming the Editor-in-Chief has been a dream and she is honored to carry the legacy of The Current Sauce forward.
Isabel Juarez Rubio
Isabel Juarez Rubio, Current Sauce - Community Outreach Coordinator
Isabel Juarez Rubio is a junior communications major. After getting her associate degree through dual enrollment, she continued her studies here at Northwestern State. Being a new staff member at the current sauce, she hopes to use the knowledge she'll learn and apply it to her future journalistic career.  

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