‘Spring is a time of great hope and anticipation for the future’


Wes Enterline, Sustainability Coordinator

Every late February since 2013, interns working for the UW-Whitewater Sustainability Office begin their earnest preparations for the much anticipated gardening season ahead. They carefully follow the instructions on the seed packet and plant those tiny beads of hope with anticipation, never certain they did it right so they germinate. Without much fail, flat after flat of barren potting soil erupts with tiny plants, so delicate and sensitive to the ever-changing conditions of our aging Upham Greenhouse. The students dutifully check on these small plants twice a day, seven days a week, to make sure they have just the right amount of water and sunlight to keep them healthy and growing. The paranoia of roasting your tiny plants in an overheated greenhouse is very real by the first day of Spring. Maybe I just need to check on them one more time…

By the time students return from Spring Break, the greenhouse is starting to fill with seedlings destined for the Campus Garden. Will these be the seedlings that help break the record of 2,600 pounds of produce donated to local food pantries set in 2019? Or will the combination of deer and groundhogs test the patience of our intrepid Garden Manager as she tries every countermeasure researched online to thwart our hungry neighbors? Which are destined for our Annual Plant Sale? They all get the same attentive care and in mid-May, they begin their great adventure outside the Greenhouse to bring food and beauty to their caretaker.

Spring is a time of great hope and anticipation for the future. This season of renewal and rebirth brings all of the plants and animals out from their hibernation or back from their remote winter locations. They work together to restart the cyclical processing of food into waste and waste into food and the soil resumes its role as nourisher to all living things. Last year’s leaves begin to decompose into next year’s soil and the food we all depend on are planted by farmers and nourished by these recycled nutrients. 

Spring also reclaims water still stored in snow and fresh rains synonymous with the season and refills wells and aquifers. The soil helps filter this water to make it safe for use in the future. The plants use the water to establish themselves quickly before the water cycle yields to the drier months of summer. Spring rains are vital to life, but too much of a good thing can wash harmful road salt and other pollutants into local waterways. Nothing is better for life in Spring than a gentle rain that breaks into the warm sun. Perhaps a rainbow will smile upon such ideal conditions for plants to grow.

Spring causes people to re-emerge from relative hibernation in their living rooms as well. Sometimes they want to make a splash socially between long nights studying for the end of semester. Others will mark the season with graduation and turning to a new chapter in life. Spring also offers opportunities to do your part to give back to the Earth by getting involved in something tangible to help the planet. Simply picking up litter buried under the snow can prevent these items from washing down a street drain and into Whitewater Creek. There are also ample opportunities to get involved in Sustainability Office projects, like the Campus Garden as a volunteer, or by attending Earth Month events throughout April. Spring is the time to put down the screen, head outside, and discover a new passion or learn a new skill that can also help your local environment. Check out uww.edu/sustainability to learn more about how to get involved and always feel welcome to reach out to me if you have an interest in joining our efforts. Think Spring!