Aug. 5, 2010

Living green at the Iowa State Fair

by Annette Hacker, News Service


It's cardinal and gold ... and green.

Visitors to Iowa State's state fair exhibit will see how students, faculty and staff are using less energy, reducing waste, saving millions of dollars, and creating a more sustainable future.

"Iowa State is Living Green!" is the theme of this year's fair exhibit, said university marketing director Carole Custer. Custer said she and the dozens of Iowa Staters staffing the exhibit are eager to share success stories of the university's Live Green! initiative.

"I think Iowans are going to be surprised at the variety of individual and collective action happening all over campus, and the creativity of those efforts," Custer said.

Merry Rankin, director of sustainability programs, is a partner in the exhibit. Rankin added, "As Iowa State strives to become a national leader in sustainability, we're discovering that little changes can make a big difference in reducing our global footprint. We're proud of what has already been accomplished, and excited about how much more we can achieve."

What you'll see

Walk through this year's display, and you'll see a visual potpourri of those efforts:

  • A live tree
  • Stacks of now-obsolete dining hall trays (not using them has already saved the equivalent of 50,000 meals)
  • Clothes and other good stuff recycled by students living in campus housing (they diverted 18.5 tons of material in six months)
  • And look for the giant "I" "S" and "U" letters, repurposed after they were removed from Jack Trice Stadium
    • Informational towers in the exhibit will tout the green momentum building on ISU's campus -- from composting to green cleaning, and environmental design to wind energy to using local foods in the dining centers. Fairgoers can share their ideas and post ways they are "living green" for all to see.

      Iowa State's BigBelly solar trash compactor -- the state's first -- also will be on display. It has reduced trash pick-up at its central campus location from two to three times per day to just once a week. And that brought down collection costs by 90 percent.

      Team PrISUm's 2010 solar car, Anthelion, will be on display, too -- as well as one of Iowa State's four electric vehicles regularly used to move people and supplies on campus.

      As always, Iowa State's exhibit will be in the northeast corner of the air-conditioned Varied Industries Building. The fair runs Aug. 12-22, and the building is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

      A Cyclone fan's paradise

      Visitors to the booth can pick up Cyclone football posters and schedules, get their free I-State temporary tattoos applied, and register to win tickets to a Cyclone football game or the Chris Cagle concert at the Iowa State Center Sept. 1. The Insight Bowl and Cy-Hawk trophies will be on display. Women's basketball head coach Bill Fennelly and several team members will be on hand Thursday, Aug. 19, from 2 to 4 p.m. to greet fans and sign autographs. University Book Store staff will sell Iowa State merchandise in the exhibit.

      4-H: Growing and learning at the fair

      Just like lemonade and corn dogs, 4-H is a mainstay at the Iowa State Fair. The 4-H Exhibits Building will be filled with youth projects and displays. Rocket-building, woodworking, skits, speeches and fashion shows are just a few of the activities visitors can take in -- and they may learn something, too.

      Fairgoers can watch popular 4-H competitions on select days:

      • Top flicks in the Iowa 4-H Film Festival may be viewed from 7 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 13.
      • Teams will design and program robots during a real-time robotics challenge from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 15. Teams will face two engineering tasks: one that uses a robot kit and the LEGO Mindstorms© NXT platform; and another that will test their ingenuity using common junk drawer contents.
      • "Cook This!" is a youth culinary challenge in which teams demonstrate their kitchen know-how and meal prep creativity. Junior, intermediate and senior level teams will compete the mornings of Aug. 17-19. The winning senior team's recipes will be tested in the Better Homes & Gardens test kitchen. Those winners also will receive VIP tours of Meredith Corp.'s Des Moines headquarters, and their story and recipes will be featured in Successful Farming magazine.
      • Prom dresses and blue jeans will collide Aug. 20-21 during the "Stitch This!" event, in which 13 youth teams will deconstruct garments and create new designs that will be modeled in a runway show. Members of the grand-prize winning team will receive $500 scholarships to attend the College of Human Sciences.

      Fair on air

      Iowa Public Radio's Katherine Perkins and John Pemble will travel to the state fair to produce segments that will air on The Exchange (Aug. 17, noon-1 p.m.) and Talk of Iowa (Aug. 19, 10-11 a.m.).

      Creature comforts

      Iowa State veterinarians are serving in important roles at the state fair. Dr. Bruce Leuschen, university veterinarian, will be caring for animals in the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center. He and four, fourth-year veterinary medicine students will work a 24/7 rotation, providing healthcare and watching the animals closely for any heat-related ailments.

      Dr. Ken Waller, adjunct instructor in veterinary clinical sciences, will use ultrasound to examine udders of the fair's top-placing lactating dairy cows to detect violations and validate the judging. He has done udder ultrasound at shows in the United States and Canada since 1999.

      And Iowa State's VSMART chapter -- the Veterinary Student Mixed Animal Recruitment Team -- will assist with the fair's popular Vet Camp program. The program encourages children to learn about animal health and welfare, and gives them an idea of what it's like to be a veterinarian. That meshes well with the VSMART students' goals, which are to address the rural veterinarian shortage and encourage students to consider mixed animal veterinary practice.