We’re in the midst of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history due to the massive ongoing offshore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill, which began on April 20, 2010 following an explosion and fire on the semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, has already damaged beaches along the Louisiana coast, devastated the local fishing industry, and killed countless amounts of wildlife.
The oil spill disaster will wind up affecting us all in more ways than one, and colleges and college students across the nation are stepping up to the plate to assist and learn through research and training, share their viewpoints, and spread awareness.
Colleges Training Workers to Aid in Oil Spill Cleanup
Florida Keys Community College is offering a 4 hour OSHA Marine Oil Spill Post Emergency Response Clean-up Worker Course, a 4-Hour OSHA HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard) Technician Level Training, as well as an Oiled Wildlife Response Course.
The National Spill Control School, part of Texas A&M University’s College of Science and Technology, offers specialized hands-on training for those in the oil spill, HAZMAT, and emergency management industries.
- Clark Atlanta University’s Environmental Justice Resource Center and Dillard University’s Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in New Orleans have offered hazardous waste removal training for low-income workers.
New College Courses and University Oil Spill Research
- The University of Minnesota has created a new course called Oil and Water: The Gulf Oil Spill of 2010 that will be offered this fall. The class will address the current crisis in the Gulf of Mexico by educating students on the history and ecology of the Gulf, the makeup of the Louisiana economy and the impact of past oil spills on humans and the environment.
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is also studying the oil spill disaster. UNC marine microbiologist Andreas Teske and doctoral student Luke McKay are searching the Gulf of Mexico for life forms that could shed light on the impact of the oil spill and be helpful in the clean-up.
- More than three dozen Florida Institute of Technology students have dropped drifting satellite devices in and near the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current, after environmental field projects designed to teach them basic ocean research turned into a chance to spot BP’s oil spill. Florida Tech and other universities statewide plan to tap that money to study the oil’s pathways and long-term effects on coastal habitats.
- Four Louisiana State University students majoring in petroleum engineering are studying and working at the Petroleum Engineering Research and Technology Transfer Laboratory, a facility which opened in 1981 with funds provided by the U.S. Minerals Management Service. It gives the University a place to train students and workers in the field and allows researchers to explore well-control method. It is the only facility of its kind operated by a university in North America.
Cosmetology Schools Donating Hair to Help Contain the Oil Spill
College Students Protest the Oil Spill without Saying a Word
As I write this, oil has not yet been spotted on the beaches of southwest Florida, but residents are extremely concerned and a group of Edison State College students decided to make a statement about keeping them clean.
On Thursday, June 24, a group of seven college students from the school’s Lee County campus lined over 700 bottles of Dawn dish soap along the shore at Lovers Key State Park as part of their final project for their Media Exploration class.
The class decided to use Dawn dish soap for several reasons, including its marketing campaign to aid wildlife rescue. (The company donates $1 to saving wildlife for every bottle bought and registered online.) Beachgoers had mixed reactions to the piece, Threat Level Blue, and it was on display on the beach from 8 a.m. until around 1 p.m. “It’s a passive statement and reaction to the oil spill disaster,” said student Kaleena Rivera. “It’s a helpless focus to keep us safe from this impending disaster.”
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.