A Message of Acceptance and Tolerance

Written by Alex Liethen

Photos courtesy of The Denver Post

The 14th Dalai Lama visited Boulder on Thursday, marking his first visit to the state since 1997 and given his age, 81, potentially his last. Along with many others in attendance, it has been a dream of mine to attend a teaching of his for decades. On June 23rd, that dream was finally realized.

The teaching was held on the CU-Boulder Campus, in the Coors Event Center. It was a warm and sunny morning when I pulled up on my bike, about an hour before the scheduled 9:30 start time of the teaching. The crowds grew thicker as you approached the center. Bikes were locked to every sign, tree and bench in site, in typical Boulder fashion. Streets were closed off with yellow vest clad officers directing pedestrians and cars alike. I heard at least five languages spoken among the diverse crowd; English, Spanish, Tibetan, Chinese and British. I sat next to a kind lady from Pennsylvania. People travelled from far and wide to see the Dalai Lama speak.

The lines to get in snaked around the building as everyone was funneled through metal detectors. The energy inside, as it was in line, was excited yet calm, just as you would expect at a Buddhist centered event. The teaching was hosted by the Tibetan Association of Colorado and the influence of Tibetan culture could be seen in the goods being sold and the adornments of the stage.

The teachings were preceded by short speeches from Boulder Congressman Jared Polis and Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones. Polis welcomed the Dalai Lama to Boulder and showered him with praise; “It takes a man of peace to be a man for peace.” He managed to sprinkle in some political statements and thoughts, including the recent Orlando nightclub shooting and the sit-in that was taking place in Congress as he was speaking and which he needed to return to Washington, D.C. for. He was greeted with raucous applause at the mention.

Mayor Jones also greeted the Dalai Lama and welcomed him to Boulder. In her speech, she claimed “I would be remiss to not present you with some gifts” after which she gave him a bicycle jersey and helmet. With the all-knowing grin that only an enlightened individual seems to have, he slung the shirt over his shoulder and donned the helmet. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, the reincarnation of Buddha and one of the most recognizable figures in the world, wore the white bike helmet for the next 10 minutes, through the remainder of the introductions and welcome speeches. In a world filled with political correctness and cultural customs, he is the only person of his stature that can get away with wearing a bike helmet through any significant portion of an event that has the eyes of a nation focused on it. It was comical and refreshing and really helped set a tone of acceptance and humility, concepts that would come up in his teachings that followed.

Dalai Lama Bike Helmet
Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones with the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama started the teachings by immediately invoking an analogy created from the bike helmet. He spoke about the helmet being for safety while using a bike to get from place to place. He likened Buddhism to that bike helmet in that it can be a safety net for our mind and body, which get us around in this life. He was quick to transition into what would become a major theme of the first half of the two-hour teaching; acceptance of others. Partly delivered in his native Tibetan (then translated) and partly in English, he talked about the importance of accepting other people’s belief systems and the need to understand that all the major religions try to teach the same principle, love. He stressed that Buddhism might be the path for some but that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism are paths that are more appropriate for others. The path isn’t what’s important he says, finding yours is.

“’My religion’ turns religion from an altruistic tool to a weapon. A strong sense of ‘this is my___ (fill in almost anything) causes a sense of ownership, which create negative emotions- anger.”

This message is especially relevant in the social climate world-wide and in America as it regards religious faith and people’s strong sense of this is my religion or country or right and I need to defend it. The message that he strongly associated with tolerance of others was being altruistic, especially when it comes to one’s spiritual practice and generally how we interact with those around us.

“To practice altruism, you need to practice tolerance.”

His talk was periodically interrupted by his deep, guttural yet highly soothing chuckle, usually instigated by something he said that he found amusing. These brief laughs, which brought a smile to the face of everyone in the audience, help keep the mood light while addressing important, contentious issues.

The Dalai Lama also had some messages and lessons for students, but they are ones that everyone can, and should, apply. “I’m 81 years old and I’m still a student. When I have time, I read and think, which, I think, is good.” He does mention that he wasn’t always this way. “When I was young, I was lazy, I didn’t want to study, I wanted to pray.” This statement elicited his belly laugh, as well as laughs from most of the audience.

In a phrase that could have come out of a commencement address but one that was highly appropriate for the setting, the Dalai Lama sums up how we can make a difference in the world.

“To change, we must start with 1 person. Then multiply by 10, 100, 1000. That is how we change.”

This concluded the first half of this teaching. The second half was devoted to the theme of the event, which came from a Buddhist text and is called “Eight Verses of Training the Mind.” The text that he taught from was very appropriate to follow-up the teachings on tolerance and acceptance because it focuses on eight practices that can be adopted to develop a compassionate and altruistic mind.

Compassion in Action
BOULDER, CO – June 23: His Holiness the Dalai Lama duplicates sign language from an audience member expressing ”I love you” during the Compassion in Action event at the Coors Events Center June 23, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Instead of just reading the Eight Verses, which as he stated are fairly clearly laid out in the concise text, he talked about how to practice the lessons contained in the verses while tying them back to the earlier lessons. He talked about specific methods to meditation and contrasted single-pointed meditation- focusing on the breath is an example- verses analytical meditation, which is meditating by repeating a mantra or focusing on a word or topic such as love.

“Single-pointed meditation is one path and is beneficial but analytical meditation is more important, better, for the mind.”

The Dalai Lama concluded the teaching by having everyone join in with a recitation of the 8th Verse (see below) three times, followed by reciting a few Buddhist mantras three times as well. He then thanked everyone in attendance, bowed, and gracefully and humbly walked off the stage.

The teachings of Buddhism, and the Dalai Lama, can be highly beneficial for all people, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or religious background. Meditation practices can help students through the stress of school. For more information on Buddhism in the Boulder area, check out;

Tibetan Association of Colorado

Boulder Shambhala Center


The Eight Verses on Training the Mind.


1.       With the wish to achieve the highest aim, which surpasses even a wish fulfilling gem, for the benefit of all sentient beings, may I hold them dear at all times. 2.       Whenever I interact with another, may I view myself as the lowest among all and, from the very depths of my heart, hold others as superior.
3.       In all my activities may I probe my mind, and as soon as an affliction arises- since it endangers myself and others- may I confront it directly and avert it. 4.       When I encounter beings of unpleasant character and those oppressed by intense negativity and suffering, as though finding a treasure of precious jewels, may I cherish them, for they are so rarely found.
5.       When others out of jealousy treat me wrongly with abuse and slander, may I take upon myself the defeat and offer to others the victory. 6.       Even if someone I have helped or in whom I have placed great hope gravely mistreats me in hurtful ways, may I view him as my sublime teacher.
7.       In brief, may I offer benefit and joy to all my mothers, both directly and indirectly, and may I quietly take upon myself all the hurts and pains of my mothers. 8.       May all of this remain unsullied by the stains of the eight mundane concerns, and, by understanding all things as illusions, free of clinging, may I be released from bondage.



The Academic Success Center is FRCC-Westminster’s New Student Hub

During the 2014-15 school year, the Academic Success Center tested the waters at Front Range Community College’s Westminster campus as a separate writing center and math lab. Students could make appointments or drop into these rooms for help on assignments from FRCC professors. When students responded positively to this development, Pandi Bromley, Academic Success Center Coordinator, developed the project further, combining the two centers, moving to the library and adding to the Center’s offerings.


“We partnered with the College Hill Library which is an exciting opportunity, because we’re realizing that the Academic Success Center represents all things academic oriented,” Bromley said. The Academic Success Center is now comprised of a math center, a writing center, tutoring services, study rooms, group study opportunities and group tutoring services, all located in the back corner of the library.

The Academic Success Center’s study rooms are one of the most popular features. Not only can students reserve study rooms for group work, but they can also have a professor in a study room give group lessons and tutoring. This is especially handy for small groups of students who need help preparing for an exam or clarifying information that was lost in class.

Jeff Wahl, the head librarian at College Hill, and Cynthia Keller, a research librarian, also offer their services to assist students with research assignments, which include finding and citing sources. “What’s convenient is that the writing center is in the library, so after students gather their sources, they can go to the writing center. It’s a one stop shop,” Bromley said.

The Center’s move to the library did not come without its issues. Even though it has established itself now, many students still do not know about the Center’s expansion or new location. However, according to Bromley, “I hear from students that they love being in the library because of the openness, and that it’s a great place to get their studying done because there are no interruptions.”

Bromley intends to continue developing the Center to entice more students into its services. Between new furniture and new programs, in a few semesters, the Academic Success Center will be the place on the Westminster Campus for student success.

“Students started realizing that [the Academic Success Center] really is a great place to work and get studying done,” Bromley said. “This is the new norm; it is an enculturation process. Students will get used to the Academic Success Center being the new hub of student support.”

Written by Kayla Klein

Photo by Kayla Klein

The English Faculty Reading Spectacular

On April 25, Professor Jonathan Montgomery opened the second annual English faculty reading with, “We’ll show you we weren’t hired for nothing!” The reading was an opportunity for the English faculty at Front Range Community College to share their own pieces of writing with the community.

Pictured left to right: Tino Gomez, Randy Russell, Jonathan Montgomery, Kate Spencer, Michelle Medeiros, Mark DuCharme


The room reserved for the event at College Hill Library overlooked sweeping views of the Front Range on the western horizon. Inside the room were rows of chairs for the audience, a table full of odd hats and stuffed birds, a podium and a guitar and amplifier, all signs that the reading was more than a typical lecture.

Over the course of an hour or so, six faculty members read more than 20 different poems and stories. Along with Montgomery, the host and M.C., Michelle Medeiros, Tino Gomez, Kate Spencer, Randy Russell and Mark DuCharme read literature to the audience members.

Many of the stories were personal, rooted in events in the readers’ respective pasts. Some of them were hilarious, while others held more series and contemplative tones. Some were performed, like spoken-word events, while others were shared as if in a coffee house.

Randy Russell

Gomez’s Your Tongue, My Son examines his life growing up in a household where his mom spoke only Spanish and he spoke mostly English. In contrast, Russell’s hilarious recount of his experience with a vasectomy in Capt’n Eunuchs Doomed Privates left the audience laughing to the point of tears.

Some of the pieces were polished, published writings, and others were brand new, having been written in the days or weeks before the event. Many of DuCharme’s readings came from books that he has published. Spencer’s reading was a non-fiction, short story which, for her, was a new style of writing, as she moves away from poetry.

Montgomery kept the mood light with his banter between readings and his encouragement that the performers use the goofy hats and the stuffed, singing birds as props. Montgomery a natural performer, paid his homage to Prince, who had passed away recently, as he wore purple and comically used the late musician’s biography as his own during his introduction. He also used the guitar and amplifier as he closed out the show with his work All the Great Rock-stars are Gonna Start Dyin’.

Jonathan Montgomery

Montgomery introduced each of the presenters with a brief biography and a few fun facts and also led the audience in a mid-performance energizer activity. During his dramatic readings, the table served as his make-shift stage.

On this cloudy, rainy night, a few flashes of lightening added effects to the performances, and the cool, rainy weather gave the warm room a cozy feeling. Events like these allow students and faculty a chance to interact outside of the classroom, and are especially fun when teachers act goofy or share serious parts of their pasts. The faculty reading afforded students the opportunity to see their instructors as more than instructors, but to actually get to know them on more personal levels.

Written by Alex Liethen

Photos from Alex Liethen

Working for The Front Page Connects You to Campus

Are you a busy student looking for a flexible and fun job at Front Range Community College? If you’re looking for a great on-campus job, working for The Front Page newspaper is a wonderful opportunity to meet people on campus and earn money.

As a busy student, I have a complicated schedule and I needed a flexible job that worked with my class load while also strengthening my résumé. Being a staff writer for The Front Page allowed for all of these things.


A great aspect of being a writer for The Front Page is the ability to inform students about current events both on campus and abroad. Writing topics are either assigned by your editor, or you can choose a topic to write about. I’ve written on everything from sporting events and concerts to professor profiles and a week in the life of a busy student. The possibilities for topics are endless!

Working as a staff writer also allowed me to work remotely. The Front Page has a meeting once a week on campus to assign articles, but other than that, I have the ability to work wherever I am. With such a busy and changing schedule, being able to write from a variety of locations was a huge benefit.

All in all, writing for The Front Page is a truly special and fun job. The benefits are wide ranging: writing on almost any topic, getting paid by the word and working from wherever, whenever.

Looking for more information? Students interested in working as staff writers should email Julie.beggs@frontrange.edu or apply directly here.

Written by Christopher Kemp

Photo from The Front Page FRCC

Howl Release Party at College Hill Library

Front Range Community College-Westminster creates a student driven, campus-wide journal titled Howl every two years. This year the third edition was released at the Howl Release Party on April 21, in the College Hill Library. The event had music by FRCC’s Gypsy Jazz Trio, a free copy of Howl, and refreshments that were served. Attendees could meet the writers and artists, while also listening to the authors read their works.

Howl’s name embraces our school’s mascot, the gray wolf. Its name also gives respect towards Allen Ginsberg, a Colorado local and author of Howl, a poem which calls young writers to embrace a fervid writing style.

Howl-Front-Cover-titled-Alpaca-Credit to-Jie-Shen.jpg
Alpaca by Jie Shen – Front cover of Howl

The first volume was published by Randy Russell, a professor in the Westminster Campus English and Communication department. For consecutive volumes, Tino Gomez, chair of the Westminster Campus English and Communication department worked together with Russell as staff editors.

As the book embraces student involvement, Olivia Orr, a student designer, worked together with design supervisor Mike Ruberto, art submissions editor Lydia Brokaw, as well as Gomez and Russell to design the journal.

Howl is a pinnacle of student work, and is filled from beginning to end with artfully chosen creations. Each part of the journal embraces student involvement and the growth of creative art. Howl is a physical manifestation of what an organized group of students and staff artists can construct. The staff act as a catalyst, as the students are the ones truly in control of this masterful entity.

The student and staff work ethic can be described as “the culmination of energy directed at one common goal, to support and be a part of the magazine,” said Gomez.

Overall, the development of the book relies on the amount of creative writing classes available at Westminster. If more creative writing courses are available, more students will submit their works and hopefully the book can be created annually instead of the two year development process currently in place.

The ability for students to develop and enjoy a physical creation of this quality is spectacular to view as a fellow student. “It’s a labor of love for all of those involved,” said Gomez, “often times this is the first time a student has been published.”

Gomez would like to thank the administration for offering fiscal support throughout the entire process of creating this professional journal. Without these critical funds, students would be unable to grow together through this artful piece.

Students interested in publishing their works can email randy.russell@frontrange.edu or tino.gomez@frontrange.edu.

Written by Jacob Hallberg

How Wasteful is FRCC?

To commemorate Earth Day last Friday, the Environmental Science Club at Front Range Community College spent the week educating students about the importance of respecting the planet.

According to their website, the club’s goal is “to promote a clean and sustainable standard in and outside of Front Range Community College. Our purpose is to make the college and community as eco-friendly as possible. We will accomplish this through a variety of projects/events about recycling, water/energy conservation, etc. Together we will develop ideas and projects as a group to help bring sustainability to FRCC and the city of Westminster.”

According to Austin, Vice President of the Environmental Science Club, the club began thanks to a passionate student. “Brandon Blea was in environmental science, a class offered at [Front Range Community College], and he had an idea to try and get more people involved in living a more sustainable lifestyle and just generally make people more aware of how to live a lifestyle that impacts the earth less, and why that is important. Out of that idea, the Environmental Science Club was born,” he explained.

The club strives to implant students with a certain respect for the Earth. “We only have one planet, and if you don’t want to care about it that is up to you, but I think that you should be more concerned about the future of the planet and future generations, about posterity,” Austin said.

The state of the health of our planet is a big issue of concern and debate at the national and international levels. Many people are starting to gain an understanding of how our lifestyles can have drastic impacts on the environment and overall health of the planet. Many people believe that, as a society, we need to make some drastic changes to how we live and how we treat the Earth, if we are to survive, and thrive, as a species. Others feel that there is no way that the changes they make will affect any real change to such a large and daunting challenge, but this is far from the truth. FRCC’s Earth Week, and the Environmental Science Club, attempted to dispel this myth.

Instilling change in our behaviors on campus can have a ripple effect through the greater Front Range community. “We want to spread the message to the greater community but we need to first start with the school. We would like to get as many people as possible from the campus involved because obviously the people are members of the community themselves; they live around this area, they go to school around this area, they probably work around the area. If we get people to start making the changes in their niche it will spread to other people in the community through them,” Austin said.

To better the Earth, people do not need to reform their entire lives. In fact, they can take a few simple steps to initiate change. “It’s easy when you leave a room to turn the light off or when you walk up to a trash can or recycle bin, you make a decision to recycle something if you can,” Austin said. “It’s also easy to plug everything into a power strip, and if you’re not using anything, to turn of the power strip.” If every person did a small favor to the planet, a much bigger change could occur.

The Environmental Science Club also hosts events to help spread their sustainability message. The events took center stage last week to celebrate the Earth Week festivities. On Monday April 18, they handed out reusable goodie bags with suggestions for students to reduce environmental impacts.

The Environmental Science Club and the Science Club took turns working the information booth that was set-up most of last week in front of the Student Organization Center (SOC). The Science Club had an informational event on Wednesday, and the Environmental Science Club held events Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Thursday’s theme was reuse, so the Environmental Science Club handed out coffee mugs. “People will go to the café here and they’ll use one of those cups and then throw it away. So if we give away mugs (we hope) people will be more inclined to use those,” Austin said. Different days of Earth Week highlighted different tenants that are the pillars of the green movement; reduce, reuse, recycle.

Using reusable grocery bags, a travel coffee cup and a water bottle, instead of plastic or paper bags, cups or bottles take very little effort once the habit is established, but make a large difference in waste generated over the course of a year or years.

According to statistics from various online sources, Americans alone consume over 100 billion cups of coffee each year and, according to Starbucks, only 1.9 percent of all of their transactions include the use of travel mugs. While the cups are generally made from recycled material, once they are made water-proof for liquid storage, they are rendered un-recyclable due to the plastic coating applied. In addition, each one of those cups, even if made from recycled materials, releases 0.24 pounds of CO2 emissions to produce it. So, if you were to buy only a single cup of coffee each day, over the course of a year you would be adding 23 pounds of waste to landfills and over 85 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. These statistics only account for the cups, not the lids, sleeves or packaging.


Our addiction to plastic is no better. Americans used over 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. Historically, only around 23 percent of these bottles get recycled, meaning more than 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfills every year. It also requires more than 17 million barrels of oil to create those bottles annually, as well as more water to produce them than they actually store. Further, bottled water is exponentially more expensive than tap water and is generally no safer or cleaner than tap water, a big reason people claim for consuming bottled water.

If humans worked to reduce, reuse and recycle, they could dramatically decrease the amount of waste that inhabits the Earth. Use a non-disposable water bottle and coffee cup, take reusable bags to the grocery store and bike or take a bus to get to the store or school. Reduce your use of disposable materials, reuse materials like grocery bags and coffee mugs, and, if you can’t reduce or reuse the material, make sure it is recyclable.

By making these little changes to your life, you will be making a difference in the world. Even more importantly, as you go through your daily life, you will inspire other people to make these same small changes.

Imagine if everyone had even just a cloth bag with a water bottle and coffee cup in their car: very easy to put together and keep close by, and with daily use of all three, millions of pounds of waste would remain out of our landfills and atmosphere.

This is how you can turn everyday into Earth Day. Living a sustainable lifestyle, or one that reduces your impact on the environment, isn’t hard and doesn’t require massive lifestyle changes. Few people can, or want to, live off the grid or consume zero fossil fuels. Everyone can, however, make an effort to reduce the amount of waste they produce.

The Environmental Science Club is a great way to learn more about sustainability and what you can do to make a difference. The club holds meetings every other Friday, from 10 to 11 a.m. in the conference room of the Student Outreach Center. The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, April 29. Anyone is welcome to attend, and if you sign up, they will send email reminders for meetings as well as information about the environment.

As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” For FRCC students, this could mean to make everyday Earth Day.

Written by Alex Liethen

Graphic from Global Environmental Services LLC.

Denver Concerts Are Can’t Miss Attractions

Denver is often referred to as “The Oasis” by musicians all over the world. The Front Range is one of the best places to see live music in Colorado, as well as in the United States. Red Rocks Amphitheater is one of the most coveted music venues in the world. Dazzle Jazz and El Chapultepec are jazz institutions with decades of history melded into the walls. Beta Nightclub is a favorite of D.J.’s and club goers. No matter your taste in music or your budget, there’s a show for you to see in Denver.

As an avid music lover and college student, I have to balance my joy of going to shows with my budget. This is no simple task, considering I live in one of the best places to see live music on the planet, there’s a place for everyone in the Colorado music scene.

If I’m tight on money, one way to see music without sacrificing much cash is to look for jam sessions or open mic nights. A Denver institution is the Monday Night Jazz Jam at the Meadowlark. This is a low-key and free event that guarantees to please, as many of the best jazz cats in Denver come out to swing. There’s no cover fee, and this is an all-ages event, perfect for brushing off those Monday blues.

If you have a bit more of a budget, I recommend buying dinner and catching a show at Dazzle Jazz. You’ll quickly understand why it’s a national landmark.

Denver is also home to a plethora of mid-level venues that cater to the budget conscious.

Looking for a rock show? Check out the Hi-Dive or Larimer Lounge. Like EDM? Clubs like Beta and The Funky Buddha are great places to start. Looking for a grab bag of music? Check out Cervantes and The Otherside, a duel venue that sports a huge variety music every night of the week.

A trip to Red Rocks Amphitheater is a must for any music lover. While it may exert your budget more than the above venues, Red Rocks is an experience worth saving for. Between the scenery and the acoustics, there is no place better.  With a huge variety of performers, a wide selection of films and even yoga and health events, there is truly something for everyone.

2015 Brit Floyd concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Summer in Colorado is a special time of year, and every resident should enjoy it to the fullest. With so many options to see live music every night of the week the Denver music scene is almost overwhelming. The best way to find shows to fit your taste and budget is to investigate “The Oasis.” You’ll find the musical waters deep but soothing.

Written by Christopher Kemp

Photo from KPBS

Summer Registration Tips

The end of the spring semester is creeping up on students at Front Range Community College. For many students, the end of spring marks temporary freedom from education, but for some students, summer is just another school semester. If you are a student of the latter, then these summer registration tips are perfect for you.

Summer registration opened on April 12, so students who are planning on taking classes during the summer should register as soon as possible, according to Erica Ingalls, Director of Academic Advising and Retention Services. “Summer time is very popular for the four-year school students [who] come to FRCC to take summer courses,” stated Ingalls. “For this reason, we see a high demand in summer classes, so the sooner that FRCC students can register the better.”

Furthermore, the summer term is only 10 weeks in length, in comparison to the fall and spring terms which are 15 weeks. “Students are expected to learn the same amount of material, but in one third less time,” said Ingalls. Consequently, students are often seen taking two or three classes instead of a full course load.

One important aspect to note when signing up for summer classes is the amount of available financial aid a student has. “The financial aid year runs fall, spring, and then summer, so it’s possible that students would not have enough aid to use towards summer courses.  It’s important to frequently visit with your academic advisor and financial aid advisor so you can be aware of these funky things,” said Ingalls.

Students interested in summer classes should communicate further with academic advising to ensure a successful semester.

Written by Jacob Hallberg

Infographic (below) from Carson-Dellosa Publishing

SummerLearningInfographic FINAL.ai
You lose a lot of knowledge over the summer. Keep your mind sharp and your skills in-check by registering for summer classes.

The Hunger Banquet Seeks to Solve Food Insecurity at FRCC

The USDA defines food insecurity as a state in which “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.” According to Feeding America, in 2014, 48.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. It’s hard to believe that in one of the wealthiest and most prosperous nations on the planet, millions of Americans go to bed hungry every night. One must begin to look at the local community to see the real effects of hunger insecurity.


Statistically speaking, many of your fellow students suffer from food insecurity. The person sitting next to you right now may not be able to eat every day, and what’s worse, is you may have no idea. In order to combat this large but solvable problem, Front Range Community College is hosting a Hunger Banquet that is designed to educate students on food insecurity in an unorthodox way. I sat down with Hunger Banquet coordinator Dan Balski to learn more about this upcoming event.

“I would say that food insecurity is a bigger issue for community college students because there is such a high financial need with our student population. Most of our students are part-time because they’re balancing family and/or sometimes multiple jobs, in order to make a better life for themselves. Being able to survive in that lifestyle is extremely difficult,” said Dan Balski, Westminster Campus Coordinator of Clubs and Leadership.

He continued, “The Hunger Banquet is a program that provides more of an experiential way to engage with the concept of hunger. We arm students with knowledge as they come in to the Hunger Banquet. The focus this year will be how hunger affects our local community. The students will come into the banquet and they will have a place to sit based on socio-economic statistics of our area. There will be a high class, a middle class and a working poor area. Each area will be given food based on their income level and we use that dramatization to talk about how hunger affects people.”

There is no substitute for seeing the detrimental effects of food insecurity on the working class. One must walk in the shoes of the food insecure to understand it, and that’s what the Hunger Banquet seeks to achieve. Imagine one of your fellow classmates sitting silently, worrying about where his next meal will come from. If you knew your study buddy wouldn’t be able to eat breakfast tomorrow, you’d chip in to help them, even if it meant you had to give up your treasured caramel macchiato. The sad truth is simply that people are not sufficiently informed about these issues.

“I think it’s helpful for students to be informed about what their fellow students are going through. The Hunger Banquet is not only a way to get informed, but also a way for students to do something about these issues, to make things better,” said Balski.

Our collective goal should be to, as Balski suggested, “make things better” for everyone on planet earth.  We can start with the simplicities of providing every individual with enough food to eat and clean water to drink.

As Americans, it is our duty to find solutions to the problems that not only plague the world at large, but also the Front Range Community. Come to the Hunger Banquet, educate yourself and volunteer at a food bank or a soup kitchen; the world and your fellow humans will thank you.

Written by Christopher Kemp

Photo from Front Range Community College

How is the Westminster Campus Science Department Using the New Greenhouse?

“It’s been a dramatic success for students to experience growing something where the back of a classroom, with grow lights, was fine but didn’t reflect real life growing in a greenhouse,” said Dan Bachelor, who oversees the horticulture department at Front Range Community College-Westminster Campus. The greenhouse has been operational for about eight months, and we are approaching the end of the second semester of classes utilizing the space.

Bachelor and the other horticulture professors have taken advantage of the greenhouse to teach their students about growing and maintaining plants. “It’s been a really good learning experience for students, instead of growing in the classroom, which is what we did before. They get to see different types of plants,” Bachelor said.

In addition to the horticulture department, other science classes, such as biology, use the space for experiments and hands-on learning opportunities.

The greenhouse features multiple benches for a variety of plants. First, the propagation chamber is a bench that has frame attached to the table and plastic sheeting attached to the frame. This allows growers to create a controllable micro-climate that is warmer and higher in humidity than the greenhouse. Bachelor explained, “Every morning we come in, including Saturday and Sunday, and we mist in here. We’re trying to keep the humidity really high so when we have plants that are susceptible to drying out – seedlings, cuttings, and clones – they will have a better chance of rooting.”

Bachelor’s landscape management class uses a bench with 15 varieties of turf grasses grown in pots. This allows the students to be able to identify the different varieties of turf grass physical characteristics, and also by observing the ligules and auricles, or parts of grass closer to the soil/root systems. Students can see what the turf grasses look like when they flower, which does not often occur in managed lawns due to mowing. Bachelor also has mowed and un-mowed portions of turf, so students can see the grasses at different stages of growth and understand the characteristics of different grasses in their natural and managed states.

Bachelor’s introduction to horticulture class uses two benches for experiential education. The benches hold trays full of different plants in different stages of growth. Students create hypotheses of different aspects of plant care, such as the effectiveness of natural vs. chemical based fertilizers, then create and run experiments.

Also in the greenhouse is the “plant library,” a myriad of different plants that students can observe and work with. The plants are used in structured labs, as well as less structured labs where students can get creative and experiment.

Finally, the greenhouse is home to a variety of exotic plants. “Our cacti are back in the corner and students really flock to that bench because of the appearance of the plants, because they are so different, including plants that we don’t often get to see flower in our homes,” Bachelor explained. “We have woody plants that either the greenhouse class or propagation class brought in as bare root and potted up. They have all survived, including apple trees.” In fact, one of the apple trees is a special variety that no longer grows in mainstream orchards.

In addition to actually growing plants, students have the opportunity to experience the technical side of greenhouse management. The greenhouse is equipped with state-of-the-art control and irrigation systems, which allow growers to set parameters, such as temperature and moisture levels. A complex computer control system uses vents, fans and the irrigation system to maintain an ideal environment for plants. This is a wonderful opportunity for any student who is interested in greenhouse management to gain experience using a high-tech system.

The greenhouse not only allows students to see how technology is used in the agricultural world, but they also get to experience some of the short-falls of these systems. Bachelor explained that the irrigation system unevenly waters the plants, so he and Ray Daugherty, horticulture professor, have to water many of the plants by hand.

Once programmed, the computer takes care of most of the things that people historically have done by hand, such as water or controlling the shade and air-flow inside the greenhouse. But, the irrigation system highlights the reality that even a highly technological system cannot solve all horticultural problems, and that problem-solving skills are still important.

“Last year, I had my irrigation class put in a two-inch line that goes to the other end of the greenhouse, so even in the winter, when all the irrigation on campus is turned off, we can still do irrigation labs,” Bachelor said. This was a great opportunity for students to get hands-on experience maintaining and installing an irrigation system on a developed site.

The greenhouse also allows students to solve more traditional issues that arise in the horticulture world that do not involve technology. For example, insects and pests cause problems for all gardners, including those at FRCC.

“We’ve had some insect control issues, which is normal in a greenhouse when you have an enclosed space like this that doesn’t have a lot, or any, natural predators. So if you get an aphid, or white fly, or spider mite, they have no natural predators, so their population explodes really quickly. We are dealing with all of those right now,” Bachelor explained. Students try different ways to control these insect outbreaks, and see how effective those different methods are.

Bachelor has yet to spray pesticides, and instead used ladybugs and Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap to combat the pests. He learned through trial about the soap’s benefits and downfalls. “Anything that I sprayed with it, died. We may have mixed it too strong and there were some adverse effects to the plants. The plants were already stressed [from the insects], and they had some growth issues after [the Bronner’s application],” he said. “It’s all part of the learning process.”

Bachelor encourages students, when they find a bug or other plant health issue, to look it up and research what the pest or disease may be, and how they can treat or correct the problem.

The greenhouse is benefitting science education at FRCC, and while Bachelor sees a bright future for the program, he worries about the greenhouse’s capacity.

“We’ve talked to the Denver Botanical Gardens (DBG) about a possible relationship to grow plants for them. Our greenhouse or propagation class would actually grow plants to be sold at the DBG plant sale. Nothing formal has been drawn up yet, but if it happens it would likely happen next spring [2017]. A year from now, we may have a couple of benches devoted to growing some of their plants,” Bachelor said. The horticulture program would benefit from this arrangement, as the money would be split between the DBG and FRCC.

The current construction on the greenhouse is more about aesthetics than much-needed expansion. “The campus decided that the chain-link fence didn’t have the aesthetic that they wanted so we are putting up a much nicer, black wrought-iron fence that will look really, really nice,” Bachelor said. “There will be security features in place so it will look nicer and be safer. It will also benefit the maintenance crews here too because they are putting concrete at the base of the fence so they won’t have to edge.”

FRCC provides invaluable resources to benefit students’ educations. The greenhouse gives science students the opportunity to learn in the same environment in which they will eventually apply their degrees.

Written by Alex Liethen

Photos by Alex Liethen