The striking displays in Ferrante Hall catch your eye. The longer you look at them the more you learn. A large wall in the stairwell between the 2nd and 3rd floors has been turned into a huge lesson in how plants impact environmental health and human health in positive ways. An 8-foot by 10-foot stainless steel box hangs on the wall. Inside it are potted plants sitting on angled shelves. Bright lights and a water pump provide the plants the fuel they need to grow. Surrounding the plants are informational panels detailing how plant diversity supports environmental health.
The display was a collaborative effort between faculty in the Biology department, OCC’s Facilities department and three people in particular; the College’s Director of Sustainability Sean Vormwald, Biology Professor Alaa Craddock, and Graphic Artist Amanda Pendock. “My original idea was to make an educational terrarium to place in one of our display cabinets,” said Craddock. “Sean suggested we install a living wall and let it be the focal point for an educational piece about the role of plants in human health. I like what we ended up with. The wall is a great way to bring the feeling of the natural world inside and the content provides food for thought as students relax in the sitting area between the second and third floors.” Craddock wrote the text which was used to create the informational panels. Pendock took Vormwald and Craddock’s vision and used her skills as a graphic artist to make it reality.
Walk through the main doors, enter the second floor of Ferrante and more informational panels invite students to, “Discover a Career in Environmental Health.” A mixture of bright colors, photographs and text encourage students to, “Discover how a native species could be used as a bioindicator,” or “You could monitor and protect municipal water supplies,” or “You could identify the source of a food contamination outbreak.” “Our goal was to give students the opportunity to envision themselves in these careers,” said Vormwald. Craddock authored the text on the second floor as well. “I thought a display that showed the exciting variety of workplace environments would open student’s eyes to what daily life in environmental health careers might be like,” she said.
The displays on the second floor and in the stairwell were completed in November 2015 and have the same look and feel as a display on the first floor which was installed during the 2014-15 academic year. It highlights campus-wide sustainability initiatives including solar panels, electric car charging stations and an orchard in the northwest corner of the campus. There is also an energy dashboard which shows how much energy is being used in campus buildings.
The entire series of displays is funded by SUNY 2020 grants.