For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rachel Hyden, I’m a senior at Ohio University studying public relations and I’m the PR intern for United Campus Ministry. If you follow UCM on Facebook or Twitter, you probably see my updates, and if you walk through campus and see flyers for events, well, those are mine too. My duty is to make UCM visible to the public so all of the Athens and Ohio University community will know just how hard UCM works for spiritual growth, social justice and community service.
Recently UCM has partnered with Ohio University to take on President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, a nation-wide call of action to advance interfaith cooperation and community service in higher education. The campaign will focus on organizing around the issues of water security and poverty, and I am fortunate enough to be involved as a student leader in charge of water security.
Because I am in a leadership position, I, along with UCM’s Campus Minister Evan Young, will be attending the Interfaith Leadership Institute (ILI) in Washington D.C. from July 25 to July 28. The Institute is sponsored by Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit organization supporting religious pluralism on campuses across the country. The purpose of the ILI is to equip students, staff and faculty to lead an interfaith movement on their universities campus. Since Ohio University is committing a year to interfaith service, this Leadership Institute will prepare me to help lead this movement.
As I said before, my position in the campus challenge is as a student leader for water security. I am very enthusiastic when it comes to clean water advocacy, and am genuinely excited that I was chosen for this role in the campaign. I’ll be putting my passion into action by organizing stream cleanups in Southeast Ohio as well as educational events focused on the importance of clean water. A good portion of my agenda for the challenge will be focused on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, a method of oil and gas drilling that can contaminate ground water, essentially ruining our right to clean drinking water.
My interest in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, stems from my work as a Clean Water Fellow with the Ohio Sierra Club. I was awarded the fellowship in mid May and have been working on the issue ever since. I do quite a lot of research and even more educational advocacy. I find it highly important that this community be properly informed of the dangers this method of drilling poses, and have made it my utmost priority as a Clean Water Fellow to do my very best at securing clean water for my community.
I am so thankful that UCM has been open to my work with the Sierra Club and that I’ve been given this opportunity to lead a movement according to my passion for water security. Sometimes I can’t believe how things have turned out, just a year ago I had no idea what I was doing with my life, but now, having had experience working for social justice and water security, I know I have found where I truly belong.