Sparking Stewardship for Student Saints

Sparking Stewardship for Student Saints Photo by Matthew Marshall
December 04, 2019

LDS Earth Stewardship was a proud sponsor of a successful LDS Student Association conference in October. Over 140 young adult latter-day saints from across the east coast traveled to New Haven, CT, to gather and learn. The beautiful campus of Yale University set the stage for an enjoyable and enlightening experience.

The bulk of the events took place on Saturday, starting with morning service projects done in partnership with the Urban Resources Initiative. One group Service weedwent to Cherry Ann Park to add wood chips, move concrete chunks, and remove invasive plants. Thanks to the vision of local resident Miss Connie Vereen, what was once an unkempt dumping ground has been transformed into a beautiful local park. This service event was part of a continuing effort that has been going on for years. The other group went to Wilbur Cross High School, which is bordered by the Mill River and East Rock Park. They cleaned up 200 pounds of trash from the school grounds and riparian area.

The afternoon featured two remarkable visitors. First, George Handley (one of our founding board members) gave the keynote lecture on gospel-centered earth stewardship. Speaker GeorgeStarting with a photo of his childhood backyard, where Handley had some formative spiritual experiences, he invited us to expand our love for those type of natural places into a love for all of God’s creation; this process is similar to how we grow from loving our family to loving all humankind. He highlighted what the Church has published on earth stewardship (which we’re celebrating with our Duty, Love, and Stewardship campaign), then discussed 10 unique doctrines of the restored gospel that are particularly insightful (check those out on our Instagram highlights). He finished by encouraging us to find ways to honor the Creator by honoring His creation in our daily life, actively choosing to safeguard our precious earthly home.

The other presenter was Erik Jacobsen, president of Deseret Ranches. Located southeast of Orlando, FL, this diverse ranchland includes cattle, crops, sod, mining, and solar panels. He shared the history of this agricultural investment of the Church, emphasizing that getting a return requires 50 to 100 years; since it’s a long-term investment, sustainable practices that preserve the land are of paramount importance. “Our livelihood depends on our sustainability,” said Jacobsen. As he discussed their long-term planning process, a common theme was protecting and caring for their water resources. All their sustainability initiatives also benefit the local wildlife, particularly the waterfowl that nest at the reservoirs. This video he shared gives a beautiful glimpse of the Deseret Ranches.

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In the evening, Rebecca Bateman—our Executive Director—recounted what Sister Sharon Eubank talked about at our Fall Forum just a couple nights before. The attendees then split into groups to discuss and formulate responses to Sister Eubank’s three questions. They summarized their ideas on posters, which were delivered to Sister Eubank after we returned to Salt Lake City, 

We were inspired by the hardworking LDSSA leaders that pulled this conference together, and are so grateful that they chose the topic of “Stewardship and Consecration.” It was inexpressibly exciting to see so many young, vibrant saints draw the connection between our doctrine and caring for the earth for the first time.