Merry Lea to Host Conference on Sustainable Living

Most of us do not want to be a burden to those who come after us. We’d prefer to emit less carbon dioxide, have less stuff and demand less from our groaning planet. But how? What would environmentally sustainable living look like in the 21st century?

Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College will convene a conversation around this topic at its Autumn Hope Conference, Friday, Oct. 7 through Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. The annual gathering blends time outdoors, faith-based reflection and workshops that enable participants to apply their learnings. This year’s event is titled, Just Footprints: Stepping Carefully in our Creator’s World.

Input begins with a free public lecture titled, “A Faith Journey Encounters Sustainable Living,” by Luke Gascho, 7 p.m., Friday. Gascho is the executive director at Merry Lea and a frequent speaker in the area of leadership and sustainability. The evening concludes with a night hike.

During Saturday morning’s hike, participants will explore the size of their ecological footprints. The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the earth’s services. It includes the land needed to grow food, mine metals and fossil fuels, produce other goods and services, and absorb wastes.

In the afternoon, breakout sessions cover some try-this-at-home suggestions for change. Topics addressed include:

  • Landscaping to reduce your watershed impact and carbon footprint.
  • Trimming your energy footprint on a budget
  • Living in right relationship with food … so that all may live well.
  • Just sunlight: the simple living power source
  • Composting to reduce your waste footprint

Saturday evening broadens the theme to include stories from other parts of the world. Dr. Laura Yoder, who recently joined Merry Lea’s faculty after years in East Asia will lead a discussion centered around case studies she has encountered abroad. The weekend concludes Sunday with a worship service. Tina Schlabach, who pastors at Waterford Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind., will speak.

The registration fee for the weekend is $125, which includes meals from Friday evening until Sunday brunch. More complete details and a registration form are available on Merry Lea’s website at Please register by Oct. 3. A limited amount of lodging is available at Merry Lea for an additional $15 per night per person.

Editors: For more information about this release or to arrange an interview, contact Jennifer Schrock at (260) 799-5869 or


Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College is a 1,189-acre nature preserve located in central Noble County, midway between Fort Wayne and Goshen. Merry Lea’s landscape includes a diversity of forest, prairie and wetland ecosystems. The center provides environmental education to people of all ages, including over 7,000 school children each year. Merry Lea was created with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy and the generosity of Lee A. and Mary Jane Rieth. To learn more, visit their website at

Goshen College, established in 1894, is a residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S. News & World Report‘s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit