By Tolgar Cont, Staff Writer
As we spend more and more time indoors, Bergen’s newest club, Bulldogs Outside, has sprung up with a much-needed call to the outdoors. Despite clubs being limited by the closing of the campus, the outdoors club has been surprisingly active, finding an audience via web streaming.
Jade Tollis, founder and president of the club, said she was motivated by our instinct to connect, even with the pandemic affecting our lives. An aspiring veterinarian, Tollis wanted to leave behind a legacy at Bergen that reflects her love for nature.
In its first event back in September, the club held a livestream of newborn terrapin turtles into the wild, in collaboration with Terrapin Nesting Project in Long Beach Island. As they released the turtles, a volunteer gave information about local turtles and their conservation efforts.
Since then, they have also streamed weekly bird watching events with the Bergen Audubon Society, and lectures on edible mushrooms in New Jersey. Later this month, they will hold their first live event at Teaneck Creek Conservancy, to assist with cleaning up the river side.
Among the club’s self-professed values are outdoors education and stewardship. This means partnering up with local groups and organizations to help promote conservation and volunteering opportunities.
Beyond education, Tollis aims to bring equity to the outdoors by removing economic barriers to hiking and exploration. One of the main goals of the club is to raise funds for a ‘library of things,” where students can access gear such as tents and sleeping bags.
Bulldogs Outside was also created with social causes in mind. Drawing inspiration from activists such as Teresa Baker and Katie Bowie, known for promoting access to the outdoors for marginalized groups, Tollis hopes to bring the same ideals to Bergen.
“It’s so important to create a community for women of color to gather while enjoying the outdoor weather,” she said.
The club currently has five members, with Biology professor Robert Dill taking on the advisory role. This, however, falls short of the minimum of ten members needed to be recognized by the college. Tollis hopes the club’s activities will draw in more people, so that they may meet the requirement.
Though the cold weather will slow things down for a while, the club hopes to fill in as many activities as possible during the spring. Planned events include fishing, rock climbing, and camping.
Students who are interested in becoming a member would be required to sign a liability waiver in case of accidents. All events and activities are free.
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