Roanoke College holds day of service in honor of MLK Day

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 6:20 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke College dedicated a day of service Monday to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Students, faculty and community members focused on preserving and helping the environment in our hometowns. By focusing on environmental justice, one student explained it will help Dr. King’s work continue through communities.

“Environmental justice and social justice kind of go hand-in-hand because people need a good place to live,” Nora Terrill said.

Terrill spent her MLK holiday moving bricks and shoveling rocks. It’s part of a project to restore ten acres of land into a center for environmental sustainability.

“In order to achieve social justice, people need good land and a healthy environment to live in,” Terrill said.

The land off Kime Road in Salem used to be filled with rubble, but students are working on taking what used to be a landfill and making it into a restorative meadow. One of the project’s leaders explained the center is going to benefit everyone.

“You end up with areas that are really degraded and polluted and those areas are disproportionately found in minority neighborhoods,” Rachel Collins said. “By learning how to do restoration in degraded areas, we’re training a whole group of students to be able to go out and do that work.”

Students and faculty will be able to research how to improve environmental quality for everyone throughout the Roanoke Valley.

“If we care about the communities that we live in, if we care about the environment that we live in, we have to do service to improve both of those things,” assistant professor of environmental studies Chelsea Peters said.

For students like Terrill, that work is just getting started.

“I want to be able to use all of my knowledge of the environment and this intense passion I have and give that back to the community and turn that into a force for good,” Terrill said.

The restoration work is part of an ongoing project that will continue to add new improvements and research techniques.

Monday’s day of service is the first of many events throughout the week at Roanoke College to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.