Westmont Magazine A Creation of Her Own

When Creation Stewardship Week kicked off on campus this fall, few people knew that senior Amanda Sparkman ’03 was behind the event. That’s the way she wanted it.

“I am not very outgoing,” the senior admitted. “This entire project has been so good for me and really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I feel strongly about this entire issue, and my desire to make a difference outweighed my quiet nature.”

Amanda has been interested in nature as long as she can remember. But her sense of responsibility to preserve the environment began during her sophomore year at Westmont. That interest deepened after she spent a semester in Belize with the Global Stewardship Study Program and began talking with English Professor Marilyn Chandler McEntyre and Biology Professor Jeff Schloss.

“Dr. McEntyre and Dr. Schloss’s classes were so instrumental for me,” Amanda noted. “They pushed me to find my voice and a role in the issue. Obviously, my time in Belize was also a turning point for me.”

While in Belize, Amanda studied tropical ecology and learned about God’s relationship to the earth and the biblical mandate for taking care of the environment. She was so overwhelmed, she came back to school with a driving passion to make changes in her community.

“I realized that if we each took responsibility for our own communities, we would be a lot farther along on this journey to protect our environment. My community is Westmont College,” she notes.

The idea for Creation Stewardship Week was born in Belize. Originally intended to encourage the campus community to enhance its recycling program, the concept evolved after Amanda discussed it with Provost Shirley Mullen. The two of them decided to use the time to educate the campus about its role in responding to the environment.

Activities during Creation Stewardship Week  included a chapel featuring wildlife photography by Frank Jahn and evening lectures by various Westmont professors. Dr. McEntyre led a faculty panel on “Beyond ‘Should’ and ‘Ought’: Stewardship as an Act of Love.” The highlight of the week was the new recycling program unveiled in the residence halls.

“I hoped to give individuals and our campus practical ways to respond and instill in them the same desire I have for a commitment to our environment, be it through active programs such a recycling or just an awareness that we have a responsibility to take care of this place we live in,” Amanda shares.

Part of her excitement for the new steps on campus comes from participating in Tivona, the environmental stewardship club on campus. She has felt united with the other students who share her passion and helped make the week a reality.

After she graduates in the spring, Amanda plans to attend graduate school and study ecology. She is leaning toward a future in field research.

Amanda admits she learned as much as she taught through planning Creation Stewardship Week.

“Gosh, did I learn a lot about details!” she laughs. “But people on campus have been so supportive and encouraging. This has been a wonderful experience for me.”