DIY Project: sturdy plastic bag tote

Get a whole bunch of plastic bags (we know you have them), cut ’em down, stack ’em together and do some other stuff [ instructions here ].  And voila!  A plastic bag tote of your very own.

This project is great because it puts to good use something people already have lying around and aren’t likely to recycle. It also answers a need for reusable bags, which (if they’re also made of plastic) only last 2-3 years anyway.

Tour of Columbia for National Geographic GeoBee

Missouri’s 2012 National Geographic Bee champion, Jack Langen, gives a tour of his home town of Columbia for the NatGeo YouTube channel. Double-fisting Sparky’s ice cream? Walking on the MKT? The kid couldn’t be more spot on.

Jack will be competing against the other state champions in Washington, D.C., on May 22-24. The Bee finals hosted by Alex Trebek air Thursday, May 24 at 7:00 p.m. (Central Time) on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD.

Students sell produce to Campus Dining

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos by Kat Seal.

Tigers for Community Agriculture, Sustain Mizzou’s gardening group, have sold 324 pounds of lettuce, chard and broccoli to MU Campus Dining Services and the University Club in just one month. The journey from seed to students resulted entirely from student volunteer efforts.

In early February, the students started romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, leek, onion and broccoli seed in the campus green house. Volunteers then transplanted the sprouts into hoop houses at Bradford Research and Extension Center and carpooled there to water it periodically. They used a drip-tape watering system, which waters at the roots and conserves water. There’s also a commercial benefit: “You don’t have water spots on the lettuce so it looks better when you try to sell them,” says Monica Everett, a project volunteer who has been with TCA since its inception in 2010. The group also sold 60 pounds of greens to the University Club, a higher-end dining establishment at the Alumni Center.

Setting up the business plan was surprisingly simple: they asked CDS to buy their produce. “After marching into the kitchen offices of the Student Center (not knowing what we were doing), we brought [sous chef] Jeremy out to the Ford Explorer,” says Kat Seal, project volunteer and former Sustain Mizzou president. “He looked at the lettuce and said, ‘we’d take it all.’”

TCA has other produce coming up for harvest, including peppers, spinach, carrots and tomatoes. They plan to sell it to the aforementioned businesses, as well as Centro Latino. All profit goes back to building the program and its assets.

Big Tree owner in the Big Muddy Speaker Series

The presentation will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 8 at the Les Bourgeois Bistro in Rocheport.

Short-eared owl at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. Photo by Benjamin Zack.

John Sam Williamson’s family has been farming the McBaine bottoms along the Missouri River for six generations. They’ve fought floods, droughts and the changes of the river while taking care of the rich bottomland and growing food for the country.

There’s a lot going on in the McBaine bottoms, including Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, the Columbia Water Treatment Plant and well field and the much revered site of the state record bur oak tree, which Williamson and his family have been taking care of for generations. Williamson is also the president of the McBaine Levee and Drainage District and treasurer of the Boone County Fire Protection District.

John will share some of his family history in the area and bring the story to the present, where changes in the management of the Missouri River mean changes in the ways farmers deal with levees.


  • Take I-70 to the Rocheport, MO, exit (Exit #115). It’s the first exit east of the Missouri River.
  • Head north toward Rocheport.
  • After about a mile, turn left at the sign for Les Bourgeois Bistro. Follow the signs to the Bistro. You will probably need to park in the lot above the Bistro and walk the trail down.
  • The presentations are held in the lower level. You can either enter at the restaurant entrance then go down the stairs to your left past the bar, or you can follow the walk to the right of the restaurant and enter through a glass door into the lower level.
  • 14020 W. Hwy BB, Rocheport, MO (click for Google Map)

For more information, visit Missouri River Relief’s page for the Big Muddy Speaker Series.

New class: “Readings 

The Readings:

  1. Michael 

  2. Richard

  3. John 

  4. Tracy

The Particulars

  • Science and Agriculture Journalism 4301 (section 2), Journalism 4301 (section 5) or Journalism 7050
  • Tuesday and Thursday 
11:00­ to12:15 

21 – ­Sept.
  • Prerequisites:
  • Learn about journalistic book-lenght storytelling by prizewinning authors. Analyze and write about these books, their writers and the issues raised by content and technique.
  • For more information or to get the permission number, contact Bill Allen, Asst. Professor of Science Journalism at

Growing Energy: Algae Biofuel for a future climate neutral energy

Check out this crazy awesome video made by Oberlin College student Angus R. Chen. As he illustrates, there’s “algae, algae, algae everywhere!” Why not use it to grow energy?*

*Well, ok, there are a few catches. Watch the video to find out more!

From the Youtube page:

What are biofuels and where do they come from? This video presents algae biodiesel as a possible future source of renewable carbon neutral energy.

If you like, please hit the happy thumb!

Special thanks to the Oberlin College Biology Department and the Bonner Center for Service and Learning

Also thanks to some of the pioneers for this type of video format, people like Jorge Cham and Henry Reich over at MinutePhysics who do this kind of thing far better than me.

A couple of things I didn’t mention: the reason why biofuels are considered carbon neutral is because even though they release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere when burned, they sequester it as biomass while they’re growing. So they’re not actually adding to the sum of atmospheric carbon – it all is supposed to come out close to zero.

Environmental Leadership Office: new name, same mission

New logo? check. Web address changed? Check. It’s official: the Office for Student Sustainability in the Center for Student Involvement changed its name to the Environmental Leadership Office. “There was a lot of confusion about who we were, so we created a more distinct identity and brand,” says Ben Datema, ELO coordinator. The office currently employs one graduate assistant, four undergrads, and coordinates student sustainability services such as the Bike Resource Center, Sustainability Peer Resource Outreach, the Mizzou Food Coalition, advises numerous campus environmental groups, and facilitates about 50 service learning students.