Environmental Student Organization aims to conserve the Earth


Nick Lanier

Peyton Lisenby, assistant professor of geosciences and ESO faculty adviser, assists in elections. Photo by Nick Lanier.

From preserving endangered species, to cutting down on plastic straws, the Environmental Student Organization takes a broad, hands-on approach to making an impact.

In the fall of 2017, ESO was formed after student interest in making the campus “green” called for the centralization and commitment that an organization would bring. The ESO is the only environmentally focused organization on campus, and the only student led environmental group in the city.

Markell Braxton-Johnson, sports and leisure studies senior, is one of 15 active members of ESO, an on-campus, student led group with the aim of bringing together people from all walks of life, to contribute to the common goal of helping preserve the environment. Johnson said the ESO has helped him become more aware of environmental issues.

Alex talking
Nick Lanier
Alex Nelson, geosciences senior and ESO president, reads the minutes of the last meeting. Photo by Nick Lanier.

“The environment impacts everyone, whether they notice or not,” Braxton-Johnson said. “I wanted to get out of the comfort zone of my major, and wanted to join an organization that had the potential to make an impact in the community and society and the ESO, in just a year, has caused me to become much more environmentally conscious.”

Alex Nelson, geoscience senior, ESO president and co-founder, said being part of this type of organization is very rewarding.

“Seeing students, organizations, and non-profits all benefit from our work is truly special, people often think problems are bigger than them. No matter how big they are, you can always put one foot forward and make a positive impact,” Nelson said.

Dane Culver, biology freshman and ESO member, shares this viewpoint.

“Being new to MSU, I have always thought about changing my ecological footprint for the better, and I have always held the environment close to heart,” Culver said. “The ESO has given me the opportunity to get involved in activities that will help the Earth. I have already made several friends in the short time I have been involved with the organization, and am confident that I will make even more, and also learn more about the environment.”

Last fall, the organization started as the Environmental Science Organization, but the members promptly changed the name to the Environmental Student Organization, as they did not want to alienate people from other majors.

“We are a very accepting organization. We are inclusive. Coming from a totally different background, all of the science majors have taught me a lot,” Braxton-Johnson said.

Jalen Mavero, environmental science senior and ESO co-founder, said one reason why he co-founded the organization back in 2017 was get more involved in his department.

“I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself,” Mavero said. “I also wanted to extend my reach to people in other majors who cared about the same issues.”

He also said the organization teaches more than just nature and conservation. It also teaches lifelong skills.

“I’ve definitely learned how to work better with others since becoming a part of this organization. It is rewarding to work to achieve a common goal, and the ESO is a great place to do this, with our diverse group and great, productive environment,” Mavero said.

Despite being a small group, the members feel that they are having an impact.

“We might not have a huge impact, but we have some, and that amount is growing every month. We are not one of those organizations who just sit around in meetings. We get out into the community and do things hands on,” Braxton-Johnson said.

Peyton talking
Nick Lanier
Peyton Lisenby, assistant professor of geosciences and ESO faculty adviser, assists in elections. Photo by Nick Lanier.


This years’ event calendar is already taking shape, with dates marked for group activities.

The ESO is heavily active in the community and is always aiming to make a difference.

“We have a couple of road clean ups planned, and we also have a really exciting event set up for Oct. 27 at Copper Breaks State Park,” Braxton-Johnson said. “Critters ‘N Crawlers Halloween Event is an outreach initiative where we will be educating children about bugs, snakes, and other creatures that are thought of as scary. We will be explaining how much good they do for the environment, and how life would be so much different without them.”

ESO also has plans for Nov. 17, which is National Take-a-Hike Day.

“We will be celebrating this date by taking people on tours of the local state parks. We encourage everyone to come out and let our fantastic members educate them about the environment,” Braxton-Johnson said.

The ESO members have a long term goal of continuing to look after the environment and want not only to grow their membership, but also coordinate with other organizations in an attempt to get their message out even further.

“There is always strength in numbers,” Nelson said. “In the coming years, I hope that the organization will continue to grow and to improve the bridge between the environment and the community.”

The ESO members cumulatively feel that their organization is simply a fantastic group to be a part of.

“In just a year, we have had some great times together. Working, planning, and then carrying out our events led to some good memories,” Mavero said.

Braxton-Johnson also said the group has made many memorable achievements.

“We have done so many things, it’s hard to just mention a single standout,” Braxton-Johnson said. “One I particularly enjoyed was our Birdwatch Program where we would go out and tally how many birds we saw and this would lead to a $1 donation per bird going to charity. It was a very fun and rewarding experience.”

produced by Jalen Mavero and Sonasha Perera