Category Archives: Environmental Advocacy

Jason Bittel at Elizabethtown College

On Friday, February 28th, a group of Millersville students and professors traveled over to Elizabethtown College to hear Jason Bittel, a renowned science writer, speak at the Bowers Writers House. He gave two talks and students and English faculty members Justin Mando and Jill Craven attended a dinner with Bittel hosted by Bowers Writers House’s Jesse Waters.

Jason Bittel, from his blog. (Source)

Jason Bittel is a science writer who most often writes about animals. Cute animals, weird animals, animals that eat the eyeballs of other animals, animals that launch chemical warfare attacks out of their derrieres. As a National Geographic Explorer, he’s trapped invasive wild boar for the National Park Service, eaten termite soldiers in the South African bush, and taken rectal temperatures from bull elk. Bittel’s writing covers a range of topics, including human-wildlife conflict, new scientific discoveries, environment and conservation, and emerging wildlife diseases. You can read his work in National Geographic Magazine,The Washington Post, New Scientist Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, and onEarth Magazine. He is currently working on a children’s book about animals for Magic Cat Publishing due out in 2021.

Jason Bittel, apart from having a world-renowned reputation, is a really interesting guy. Read more about his love of weird animals on his website. Jason is also a contributor for National Geographic – how cool??

Here are the two talk summaries:

4-5 p.m. What the *&^!? is THAT!? Writing for the Sciences with Jason Bittel

Jason Bittel spoke about how to become a professional science writer, including tips and techniques for the emerging professional sciences writer.

7-8 p.m. Nipples on Men, Collars on Crocs: Science Writer Jason Bittel

Jason Bittel amazed the audience with the unknown aspects of the opossum and the squirrel.  Wow!  The opossum is crazy complex. And we were blown away by the history of the squirrels we see every day.  They had to push us out of the door.  We wanted to learn more!  But more importantly, we learned how science writing could be both engaging and funny!

Much thanks to Jesse Waters, director of the Bowers Writers House, for putting the event together and inviting our students.

Please email Dr. Mando with any questions.

Congratulations to 2019 Millersville University Sustainability Champions

Mamie Covell Student Sustainability Champion
Mamie Covell Student Sustainability Champion

Millersville English proudly recognizes the contributions of Mamie Covell and Justin Mando for their efforts in promoting sustainable practices on campus and in the larger community.  Both Mamie and Justin were named Millersville sustainability champions this week by the Sustainability Committee.  Mamie was named the Student Sustainability Champion for her work on educating others about sustainability, and Justin was named the Faculty Sustainability Champion for exploring sustainability in his Science Writing classrooms.

Mamie currently chairs the sustainability committee within the Student Government Association, where she and her team create sustainable initiatives on campus and listen to concerns related to sustainability from students and the community. Mamie’s creativity & passion for sustainability shine through in her work with others. She has run a DIY Reusable Bag night with the SHARP Team to help them learn about upcycling and making sustainable choices. Her fellow students have nominated Mamie because of her passion to make the Millersville campus community more sustainable, as well as her dedication to educating and informing the student body on sustainability.

Justin Mando Faculty Sustainability ChampionDr. Mando’s focus at the university is Science Writing, and he uses this in interdisciplinary writing classrooms to help students understand and explore ideas of sustainability. He has developed a Kayaking on the Susquehanna assignment that helps students physically explore sustainability and has resulted in conference presentations and internships for undergraduate students. He has helped to organize local stream cleanups by Millersville University and annually conducts a Susquehanna Stories green reading event at Saxbys that gives students the chance to share their environmentally focused writings in an open mic setting.

Environmental Writing Susquehanna Kayak Trip

On October 3rd, Dr. Mando’s Environmental Writing class went on a kayak trip as part of their Susquehanna Stories Project through Shank’s Mare Outfitters. For many, the Susquehanna River is just that expanse they cross on their way along the Pennsylvania Turnpike or a troublemaker for the Chesapeake Bay, but for students from ENGL 466: Environmental Advocacy Writing, the river is a source of inspiration. These students have been tasked with telling stories of the river, focusing on the people, plants, animals, and places that make the Susquehanna a valuable connection to our area. What better way to start that process than by getting into the river itself?

The class floated the river to gain a sense of place that will drive the writing they do on behalf of this magnificent, threatened, and often overlooked American waterway. Their goal is to capture in writing both the aesthetic and cultural value of the Susquehanna along with the threats that face it. Many organizations from the Susquehanna’s headwaters to its mouth in the Chesapeake Bay are excited to hear what flows from our student advocates. River Stewards, a Susquehanna-focused organization, funded the excursion in its entirety. This surely demonstrates the value of the work our students do!

The trip was attended by Liz Amoriello, Abbie Breckbill, Domenic DeSimone, Jessie Garrison, Skyler Gibbon, Shelby Hall, Anthony Miller, Jonathan Rivera, Kyle Steffish, and Kelly Umenhofer.

The students set off on a calm evening in early October, taking double kayaks from south of Wrightsville down to Fishing Creek and back in the section of the Susquehanna known as Lake Clarke. Because it is between two dams, this part of the river is much more like a lake than what normally comes to mind when we think of rivers. This lake-like stretch has caused the students to think of how differently they may have to communicate environmental issues to citizens located along the banks of Lake Clarke among lighthouses, seagulls and jetskis than they would in the river’s northern reaches of grass islands, exposed rocks and riffles.

These kinds of rhetorical issues regarding context and audience really come to life when you’re out there in the middle of the river. You can’t help but imagine the native Susquehannock settlements of the distant past and their dugout sycamore canoes juxtaposed with the brightly colored kayaks we floated. You look to the top of Turkey Hill where a landfill, a processing plant and windmills now have the high ground and then your eyes focus on the mottled white of a swooping osprey. You come ashore and the ground feels different; it’s not just your soggy shoes, it’s the sense of being part of the sweeping flows of time and place that we as individuals can passively float or choose to paddle against.

On October 24th at 4:30pm, there will be a reading of the student’s Susquehanna Stories at Saxby’s as a part of Sustainability Month.

Photos and Article from Dr. Mando


Made in Millersville English Events

There will be a strong representation of the English department at this year’s Made in Millersville. Read these quick summaries before you go check them out on April 17th in the McNairy Library! Visit this site for the full program list. 

Use and Perception of Google Translate in the Classroom: 8-9:15am Maria Glotfelter will present on the potential use of computer translators as instructional tools for learning languages. Past studies indicate that students frequently use computer translators and sometimes have inaccurate perceptions about them. Google Translate was chosen as a tool to gauge students perception and use of computer translators. Maria will analyze survey and interview data with the goal of making pedagogical recommendations for both teachers and students.

A Different Space: 8-9:15am Kaylee Herndon will present a feature-style profile piece on Elizabethtown College’s Writers House and its director, Jesse Waters. The story focuses on what the house is, how it connects with the local community and other Writers Houses, and some struggles it faces. She will go over the story’s content, the interviewing and writing process, and the design layout process in terms of layout for publication.

Writing Workshop Digital Portfolio Session: 10:50am-12:05pm Students in Dr. Farkas’ Writing Workshop class are going to be discussing the benefits of creating a professional portfolio and the different digital platforms available and which they recommend.  Students will also share their own processes of creating their portfolios, some of their writing samples that they are including in their portfolios, and examples of their digital portfolios.  Students in the course will be working in small groups of about three students each and will present these various aspects of the digital portfolio.

The Issue of the Lack of Feminine Products Available to Homeless Women: 10:50am-12:05pm Mary-Kate Helm, Jessie Garrison, and Eilish McCaul will present on why lack of access to feminine products in the city of Lancaster is such an issue through their collected research and interviews with women on their experiences. The students will also focus on what they did to make a difference in the community and their sustainable plan of action.

The Line: 10:50am-12:05pm Rashna Yousaf will present her short film The Line that revolves around the theme of racial discrimination and gender inequality.

The Final Phase: Millersville Strike Oral History Project and Its Aftermath: 10:50am-12:05pm Lauren Cameron and Ashley Sherman will present on the PA State system of Higher Education Faculty Strike in October 19, 2016 by commemorating the state system’s first actualized walk-out. The presentation reflects upon the findings of the project, examining the development of the interviewing team and the strike project, as well as the aftermath such efforts created and the subsequent importance of oral history.

Non-Western Literature Poster Session: 1:10-2:25pm All students enrolled in the class ENGL 336 New Dimensions of World Literature are participating in this poster session. The goal is to draw the attention of the university community to accomplished literary works from countries that are often overlooked in mainstream discussions about literature in America. Students, working with Dr. Jakubiak, will present on major issues raised by works of fiction, nonfiction and drama written by Maryse Conde (Guadeloupe), Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan), Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Ngugi Wa’Thiong’o (Kenya), Mo Yan (China) and Samar Yazbek (Syria). They will also explore the rich cultural and historical contexts of these works.

Susquehanna Stories Panel: 1:10-2:25pm This panel will be a presentation of the “Susquehanna Stories” written by students from Dr. Mando’s last semester ENGL 466 Writing Studies Special Topics: Environmental Advocacy Writing. Maddie Giardina wrote a piece for the English Newsletter that explains the project in detail. The students who will be participating are Rylan Harvey, Caitlyn Tynes, Amanda Mooney, and Gabrielle Redcay.

Hip Hop and Intersectionality Panel: 1:10-2:25pm Hip Hop & Intersectionality is a panel of undergraduates exploring how rap music provides a site of cultural intersection between the marginalized perspectives that developed the genre and the mainstream perspectives that largely consume it. These students combine their knowledge of feminist theory with popular culture to bring revealing insights. Eugene Thomas, Stassy Bonhomme, Evelyn Dais, Sandra Molina-Hill, Diavian Gunner, Skyler Gibbon, and Elizabeth Wright are involved in the panel discussion.

Prisoner City: Lancaster City’s Role as a P.O.W. Prison During the American Revolution: 1:10-2:25pm Domenic DeSimone will present on Lancaster City’s role during the American Revolution. Unprepared for the sudden influx of prisoners they were being tasked to house, Congress instructed the citizens of Lancaster to let the prisoners walk among them in the town as a show of goodwill. The unique way that Lancaster dealt with their new identity as a prison town would drastically change the lives of the cities residents, forever altering the city that many of us call home today.

The Power of Creative Writing Class Presentation: 2:35-3:50pm Students enrolled in Dr. Jakubiak’s ENGL 421 Creative Writing in Fall ’17 will read their poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. The presenters are Brett Killian and Molly Landfried.

Spoken Word Event: 2:35-3:50pm The Spoken Word event will be students performing their work on the theme of what’s not spoken about in school.  They will give voice to what they think is important but not spoken about on campuses. These students are preparing an experience that will dramatize the theme, too. Skyler Gibbon, Sean Domencic, Krystal Lowery, Jessie Garrison, Rylan Harvey, Taylor Schaal, Kyle Copenhaver, Rachel Cubbage-Opaliski, Xiao Tian Wang, Alyssa Matchett, and Shamera Burbank Green will present.

& Joy: 2:35-3:50pm Catherine Dillon, in her dramatic performance session, will highlight the joy present even among the tragedies of life through a poetry reading/spoken word. The poet will share various poems discussing the mental health and familial relationships within the context of joy.

Student Perceptions of Student Driven Inquiry Projects: 2:35-3:50 Bryce Rinehart‘s study is meant to provide an understanding of students’ perspectives on their motivation during an IBL project in order to enhance educators’ understanding of how inquiry-based learning, especially student driven inquiry, can function within the classroom to address students’ need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness as they work.

For the Journal You’ve Never Heard Of: 2:35-3:50pm Shaakirah Tate, Alexandra Attinger, Daniel Dicker, Sara Lipski, and Mikayla Steele are interns for the Made in Millersville Journal and will unveil the new issue of the journal and display the student work submitted throughout the school year. It will also serve as the ‘Grand Opening’ for their new website and social media platforms. The presentation will integrate the journal with the conference as a whole. Visit this previous newsletter article for more information.

MUsings: The Graduate Journal: All Day Claire Porter, Jay Barnica, Rashid Noah, and Maria Rovito will present the publication of MUsings, showcasing the academic work of graduate students at Millersville University. The journal invites students to present highlight of their work in a venue that bolsters career- building experiences and celebrates their scholarly effects.

First Experiences on the River of Dreams

If someone were to ask you, “What is Environmental Advocacy?” would you be able to provide an answer for them?

The students of Millersville University’s first environmental advocacy class, led by Dr. Justin Mando, spent a semester trying to pick apart the meaning of that question together.

Their investigation began with a trip down the River.

Shank’s Mare Outfitters, located in York County, Pennsylvania, became the site of their discovery. On a field trip funded by the River Stewards, a non-profit organization whose main intention is to raise awareness and appreciation for our water resources, a class of about 20 students strapped on their life vests and got a hands-on, feet-wet education from the Winand family on the history of the Susquehanna.

Dr. Justin Mando (center back) and his class during their visit to Shank’s Mare Outfitters. Photo was taken by Devin Winand, their river guide for the day.

Dr. Justin Mando (center back) and his class during their visit to Shank’s Mare Outfitters. Photo was taken by Devin Winand, their river guide for the day.


After returning to the classroom, the students discussed their experiences on the river and were able to make some interesting connections. The students were able to relate their experience paddling on the river with readings that Dr. Mando had shared with them throughout the first weeks of the class. The concepts of close observation that Charles Fergus and Annie Dillard had offered them through their writings had suddenly gained meaning and the students found a deeper connection with the Susquehanna and those concerned with it after discussing the narrative rhetoric offered by these authors.

The class continued their curiosity by examining the works of Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson. These works led the class to think about the implications that human action can have on the environment and therefore, the inherent obligation to make up for the destruction that we may cause.

The remainder of the course of these students’ semester was shaped by the “Tiny Ecology” project they were assigned. Dr. Mando encouraged them to pick an environment, be it a lake or a street corner, and observe it, nothing more. He asked the students to post bi-weekly updates on their chosen space and relate what they observed to the topics discussed in class. Much to their surprise, the students developed much deeper connections with their chosen space than they thought possible.

The class was visited by Kristen Wolf, the Chesapeake Bay Coordinator of the Department of Environmental Protection, who spoke about the importance of raising awareness of environmental issues around the globe. Wolf emphasized the importance of citizen scientists and what it takes to motivate people to care about an issue that may not directly affect them. She explained the work that she has done with the Chesapeake Bay Program relating to species and resource protection, and how the threats affecting local bodies of water travel downstream and affect the larger bodies they empty into. In the case of the Susquehanna River, contaminants that enter the water are carried all the way to the Chesapeake Bay, where their potency is amplified.

With these ideas in mind, the class began to further their knowledge by reading Garrigan and Carbaugh & Cerulli. These readings gave the students the insight to consider the importance of “place.” Considering these new ideas, the students of Mando’s class entered the next phase of their class and began constructing their own “Susquehanna story.”  These stories took the form of many different media styles, including fiction and non-fiction pieces, videography, photographic stories, and poetry. Every student took the time to observe and investigate the Susquehanna River and really take into consideration the significance that the river has for those who use and enjoy it, both recreationally and as a resource. Ranging from the native Susquehannock Indians, who relied on the river for spiritual guidance and physical sustenance, up to modern-day fracking debates, the students became advocates and voices for the river to tell its story.

Dr. Mando, along with one of his students, Madeline Giardina, took what they had learned to the Susquehanna River Symposium at Bucknell University. Here, they shared the experiences the class had investigating and interacting with the river. They reflected on their experiences and spoke about how important it is to be respectful of not just the Susquehanna River, but of all land and rivers, for the history they preserve and the life they provide for.

The rest of the class was given the opportunity to share their personal work at an open-mic held at Saxby’s, a café on campus. If they chose to, students were able to share the stories they had produced with each other and with other interested students. The goal of these readings was to share the stories that were crafted about the river and emphasize the importance of raising awareness for relevant issues.

Dr. Justin Mando and his class after presenting their Susquehanna stories at Saxby’s.
Dr. Justin Mando and his class after presenting their Susquehanna stories at Saxby’s.

One observer present at the reading was Chris Steuer, Millersville’s Sustainability manager. Steuer became actively involved with the Advocacy class and came to speak about the University’s sustainability efforts and the logistics that surround sustainable action. He highlighted sources of funding and resistance to change as being two key factors that make completing sustainability projects difficult.

The students took these ideas into consideration and applied them to real-life scenarios. Each student chose a subject under the larger umbrella of “sustainability,” and did extensive research and evaluations of the ways these topics are presented in science writing, in public writing, and in current campaigns. After examining various forms of literature, they began to construct their own “Environmental Advocacy Campaigns.”

These campaigns inspired and challenged students to recall the various forms of writings that they had studied throughout the semester and use them to build informed opinions on the way these issues are addressed in society. The subjects chosen ranged from issues influencing large-scale populations, such as water pollution and trash disposal, to the current sustainability efforts acted out at Millersville University. The finished campaigns included critical evaluations and comparisons of environmental discourse representing their topics, a report representing their findings and how this discourse could be improved in the future, and their own individual collections of work depicting what they determined to be successful advocacy campaigns for their chosen subjects.

Using all of the information and knowledge that they had collected through the semester, the Students of Environmental Advocacy gained the insight and skill to critically evaluate and produce effective forms of environmental discourse. So what does “Environmental Advocacy” mean, exactly? After experiencing Dr. Mando’s class, his students conclude that environmental advocacy means being honest and responsible for your actions and how they affect the environment; it means sharing important, scientific information with the general public in a way that they can understand; and above all else, it means stewardship and speaking up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

—- Madeline Giardina