Penn State University: Community, Environment and Development Club helps break world record

As part of a nationwide Earth Day celebration, members of the Community, Environment and Development Club in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences helped break a Guinness World Record.

The CED Club, which is under the college’s Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education, was contacted by producers at NBC’s “Today” show and asked to participate in the show’s Earth Day event. The show successfully broke the record for the most people watering plants simultaneously across multiple venues.

Fifty Penn State students and staff came together on April 22 in one of the greenhouses operated by the Office of Physical Plant to participate. A total of 799 participants at 12 U.S. schools and organizations helped break the record.

The club’s president, Amelia Wyckoff, a freshman double majoring in community, environment and development and geography, was the event’s main organizer.

“Participating in breaking the Guinness World Record was a fun way to kick off Earth Day,” said Wyckoff, of State College.

Erin Farley, an executive producer of “Today,” asked the club to participate in the event.

“She found us online, saw our social media and thought we would be a perfect fit for what the show was trying to do,” Wyckoff said.

Wyckoff added that the club was able to get the event organized in a little over a week. To find the best place to shoot video on campus, the club turned to Brian Phiel, supervisor of grounds maintenance for ornamental horticulture/arboriculture in the Office of Physical Plant.

“Amelia did most of the hard work,” he said. “We provided some watering cans, and the rest was up to the students. It was good to have them out to the greenhouse. We do many things with students, but we have never broken a world record before.”

Phiel noted that the need for Wi-Fi service, parking and accessibility, and space for a group made the greenhouse on Tower Road the best spot for the event.

Wykoff’s adviser, Timothy Kelsey, said it was impressive how quickly the planning came together.

“It reflects the club’s excellent organizational abilities,” said Kelsey, professor of agricultural economics and associate department head. “It was a lighthearted way for the club members to start their Earth Day activities, and this was only one of a full slate of things they did that day.”

Club members from various backgrounds, majors and interests gathered to share a meal before the event. Wyckoff added that afterward, many club members spent the rest of the day volunteering for and drawing awareness of climate change, environmental and social justice, and food security.

“We also participated in other Earth Day activities, including the PSU EcoReps carnival and Lights Out PSU,” she said. “We think Penn State students are committed to Earth Day in many ways. We hope that the “Today” show’s Earth Day coverage shined a light on the substantive ways young people conduct scientific and communication research and advocate for eco-friendly legislation.”

The CED Club, which recently was resumed after a period of inactivity, is open to all majors. Even before the “Today” show event, Wyckoff noted that the club’s membership was growing steadily.

“Community, environment and development is not only a club and a major, but it’s also a practice that could apply to many fields of study,” she said. “It is a huge deal that we have gone from a small club struggling to gain more than a handful of members to ending the year on such a high note.”

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