April 2013

PAWs - Promoting Awareness and Wellness

Ashford University is proud to show you our PAWs. That is, our Promoting Awareness and Wellness initiative! Every month, we'll highlight different causes and opportunities that reflect the values of the University. You'll also learn ways that you can participate or be more involved.

This month, we're highlighting two environmental efforts: Earth Day and National Garden Month.


Earth Day and National Garden Month, both held in April, present an opportunity to shine a light on
the health of our environment.

Earth Day

Earth Day, celebrated each April 22, is an environmental movement started by US Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin. Senator Nelson was inspired to make a difference after a tragic oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969, in which more than 3 million gallons of oil were dumped into the Pacific Ocean (Santa Barbara Oil Spill, n.d.). “National Teach-In Movement on the Environment,” the first publicly-endorsed day that celebrates the environment, eventually became Earth Day. Nelson persuaded others in positions of power to join him on this mission and formed a committee to support this cause. As a result, on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies (Earth Day, n.d.).

The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts (Earth Day, n.d.). It continues to stimulate, motivate, and remind us all to preserve Earth and act with environmental consciousness. Senator Nelson planted the seed, and it has grown tremendously to include over 184 countries. To find out more information about how you can get involved in this year’s Earth Day events, visit www.earthday.org.

National Garden Month

Not coincidentally, the month of April is also designated as National Garden Month, a time when communities and organizations can celebrate and encourage gardening. What gardeners know - and research confirms - is that nurturing plants is good for us; it helps our attitudes toward health and nutrition improvement, our kids perform better at school, and our community spirit to grow (National Garden Month, n.d.)

Two organizations contribute to National Garden Month in an effort to promote communities and help gardeners to do what they do best. The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) and the National Gardening Association have been serving communities for 35 years. For more information, visit National Gardening Association and American Community Gardening Association.


Community Gardens

A community garden is a place that is gardened and tended to by a group of people. It can consist of flowers, produce, or both. Benefits of a community garden, according to the American community gardening associations, can include the following:

  • Improves the quality of life for people in the garden
  • Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
  • Stimulates social interaction
  • Encourages self-reliance
  • Beautifies neighborhoods
  • Produces nutritious food
  • Reduces family food budgets
  • Conserves resources
  • Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
  • Reduces crime
  • Preserves green space
  • Creates income opportunities and economic development
  • Reduces city heat from streets and parking lots
  • Provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections

Check out the video below to find out how you can start your own organic garden!

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets have been growing in numbers, size, and popularity from year to year and can be found in almost every state and county. A farmers market is a place where local individual vendors come together and sell their produce, meat, drinks, and other goods. To connect with farmers markets close to you in a quick and convenient way, visit FarmersMarket.com (Farmers Market, n.d.).

There are many benefits to farmers markets. The impact extends to the consumers, producers, environment, community, and local economy. Farmers markets benefit the environment because they help reduce food miles, fossil fuel use, packaging, and encourage bio-diversity. The community benefits from the economic boom they create for the local economy, the support local businesses gain, and the social interaction between people that build a better community (Benefits of Farmers Markets, n.d.).

Learn of additional benefits of farmers markets or view the video below for tips on effectively shopping at your local farmers market.

Green the Block

Green the Block is a campaign that was created to address the impact of pollution and poverty that affects us all. The national campaign is aimed at low-income communities as a means of educating, promoting, and advocating environmental issues. While events are held all over the country, the Green the Block website will help you find events located near you.

The foundation of Green the Block includes these three pillars:

(1) Advocacy for a green economy: Green the Block advocates for legislation and policy change to help low income communities to do what is best for both for the community and the environment.
(2) Green jobs: Green the Block advances the creation of more green jobs through campaign efforts to increase awareness of green collar jobs, while also providing training in an effort to help eliminate poverty.
(3) Conservation: Green the Block addresses conservation through community service and environmental projects that clean up and make neighborhoods more environmentally friendly (Green the Block, n.d.).

Check out the musician Drake as he discusses his partnership with Green the Block in the video below.

A Green Machine

As you can see, there are many ways that you can be on your way to an environmentally friendly lifestyle, and the more people who get involved, the more powerful the impact. Whether you visit or contribute to a community garden, shop at a farmers market, or advocate for environmental awareness, find your voice and be heard by getting involved in these or other organizations. Make a change by becoming involved in Earth Day and National Garden Month, and spread awareness to someone you know.

Ashford University Alumni Spotlight - Wayne Shems
Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management, 2012

Ashford graduate Wayne Shems helped launch a green technology company that convers waste into energy. Check out his story in the video below.




About NGA. (2013). Retrieved on March 27, 2013 from

American Community Gardening Association. (n.d.). Retrieved on November 1, 2012 from

Benefits of farmers’ markets. (2012). Retrieved on November 1, 2012 from

Corwin, M. (n.d.). 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill. Retrieved on November 5, 2012 from http://www2.bren.ucsb.edu/~dhardy/1969_Santa_Barbara_Oil_Spill/Home.html

Drake partners with Green the Block. (2010). Retrieved on November 6, 2012 from

Earth Day (n.d.). Retrieved on November 1, 2012 from

Farmers Market. (2011). Retrieved on November 1, 2012 from

Green the Block. (2011). Retrieved on November 1, 2012 from

National Garden Month. (2013). Retrieved on March 27, 2013 from