Student-Led Plan-it Earth Project Celebrates Earth Day on Otterbein’s Campus 

Posted Apr 22, 2022

 By Bridget Oder ’23 

Students Abby Hanselman and Shaina Turner talk about why Earth Day means so much to them 

Otterbein students are celebrating Earth Day on April 22 on campus by hosting the Compost Challenge to educate peers about how to compost food and yard waste through the Westerville Compost Exchange. 

Plan-it Earth is one of the Center for Community Engagement’s student-led Cardinal Corps service programs and was founded in 2006 to educate students about strategies to lower their carbon footprint. Over the past 16 years they have challenged their peers to reduce their energy consumption, carry reusable water bottles, decrease water usage, recycle, and go zero-waste. 

The current project that the group is working on is called the Otterbein Compost Challenge. They started a challenge by giving households a one-gallon bucket with a compostable liner, and the recipient’s job is to fill it with as many compostable food scraps as possible. 

Compostable items include coffee grounds, tea bags, fruits, vegetables, and bread. There will be prizes given out on April 22 to the households that collect the most compost in their buckets. Prizes will include things like utensils, soaps, and tote bags that are either biodegradable or are made out of recycled materials. The goal is to unite the campus community in a fun way and make them aware of their carbon footprint. 

Abby Hanselman is a senior environmental science major with earth science and sustainability studies minors. She is helping to lead the initiative. 

“I’ve always wanted to save the world and preserve the beauty of our natural surroundings. Human nature is quite erratic and there’s always debates over how the world should be run, but nature is the most faultless thing we have, and it isn’t a debatable thing,” she said. 

Hanselman and her coleader, Shania Turner, became a part of Plan-It Earth in early 2021, brought on by a class project with Professor EmeritusTerry Hermsen. He encouraged them as a class to do something for the campus that involved nature, so they decided to try to plant trees. 

Through a grant they applied for, as well as a very generous donation by Professor Jeff Lehman, they received $2,200 to plant a row of 20 Douglass Spruce trees as a windbreak at the Otterbein Equine Center. As a campus and community event, they decided to turn this into an Earth Day Tree Planting Ceremony for 2021. 

The event was a big community success, with families volunteering to help them plant the trees, and President John Comerford even cutting a ribbon to make it official. Other events include the Polar Bear Climate Summit in 2021, and also the annual Teach-In for the Planet hosted by the CCE. Hanselman and Turner wanted to unite the campus community in their fight against climate change, so these events have been pivotal to their success. 

Turner, a senior zoo and conservation science major with minors in biology and sustainability 

studies said, “Earth Day has always been something I loved because it meant getting to watch all the fun shows and movies that showcased how beautiful our planet is. I’ve always wanted to protect this planet and the life on it especially animals, which influenced my choice of major.” 

For any more further questions about the Plan-it Earth Project, contact with Abby Hanselman ( or Shaina Turner (