Sustainability

Eco Princess aims to promote self-esteem, conservation

So I’m freaking out. On Saturday, December 7, I will be hosting RPI’s first ever Eco Princess Festival at the Rensselaer Union from 1–5 pm. That’s right—the festival is not being hosted by any one club, it’s being directed by just one individual (me). Luckily, I’m not completely alone.

Some fantastic groups like Ecologic and Society for Women Engineers and a few dedicated people have really involved themselves with the planning and implementation. I definitely owe a lot to them and to the Union staff.

Anyway, the RPI Eco Princess Festival is a family-friendly event that focuses on building a sustainable world as well as healthy self-image among young girls. I chose sustainability as the topic since so many environmental issues can be connected back to other social issues, like health. My goal is to help the younger generation get excited about being involved with any issues they care about as well as promote science, technology, engineering, and design.

It’s an idea that I’ve been waiting to implement for a long time and finally realized an opportunity to start doing so five months ago. I figured it would work to have RPI host since not only do they have a strong stake in convincing girls to be involved with STEM, but it could also help boost relations between the college and the City of Troy. Here’s what I’ve got. The festival’s main attraction is the “Royal Eco Quest,” in which participants can take on interactive challenges that teach about environmental issues present in communities around the United States.

These interactive challenges are hosted by costumed princesses who will demonstrate that princesses are leaders in their communities, and experts at community issues. There are five different challenges right now with princesses at each—Cinderella and Jasmine teaching about consumption, the Little Mermaid teaching about water pollution, Snow White teaching about air quality, Tiana and Belle teaching about healthy food choices, and Sleeping Beauty teaching about energy.

The challenges themselves are critical-thinking based and are designed to be completed by an audience between K–5, although people of any age could get enjoyment out of it.

If a participant completes all the challenges, they receive a prize (an herb that participants can take care of and grow for themselves) given to them by either Pocahontas or Fairy Godmother. Pretty cool, huh?

A few other activities that we have at the festival include “environmental MadLibs” hosted by Peter Pan and Tinkerbell and written by Society of Environmental Professionals, a recycling t-shirt activity benefitting the Humane Society hosted by Circle K, and a worm and composting workshop led by Troy Compost. There will also be performances by groups like RPI’s amazing Juggling & Unicycling Club, a storytelling corner, and games supplied by Total Events and the Winter Carnival. By the way, Ben & Jerry’s have also offered to supply free ice cream for the event. So there’s that too.

It’s definitely been a frightening and difficult project, but I’m glad it’s finally actually happening.

If you’re interested in learning more, want to be a part of the magic, or if you have any questions, look us up! The website is http://www.rpiecoprincess.com/, and our Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/rpiecoprincess/. You can also contact me through my personal email, wilsoa4@rpi.edu. Maybe I’ll see you Saturday?

Editor’s Note: “Sustainability” is a column granted to the Student Sustainability Task Force to discuss issues of sustainability on the Rensselaer campus and around the nation.