Forgotten Stake Flag by Alayna Dake
November 1, 2023, 11:23 a.m.
Outside of the Bryce Jordan Center

Image of sidewalk edge with foliage, leaves, and a construction flag on a metal stakeThis photo shows a small green stake flag lying near the Bryce Jordan Center, possibly used by professionals to identify underground pipes or lines at one point. Its position suggests that it has not been in use for some time, left lying in the dirt as forgotten pollution.

I chose to take this photo because it encapsulates both the importance of using and developing our campus and also taking initiative to intentionally maintain its health. One often gets distracted by advancing their own enjoyment of our campus without taking responsibility for cleaning up after themselves in the process. This cannot continue at the environment’s expense. Bringing attention to forgotten pollution is one step toward keeping it clean, safe for wildlife, updated, and enjoyable, simultaneously.

Looking through our campus for pollution was somewhat depressing because it was so easy to find, lying on the ground every few steps. Pencils, plastic bottles, and small scraps of paper were unfortunately ordinary and presumably left from the student body. Finding this specific stake flag was a surprise, though, as it was a different type of litter than I had been finding thus far. It seemed to be left from professional development of campus and forgotten. It felt unusual to see a professional tool left behind, as most litter left behind is from daily life, not campus projects. It reminded me that we enjoy the perks of updating campus, but often neglect necessary measures to clean it up, which would benefit people and wildlife alike. This ironic imbalance suggests that even more light should be shed on cleaning up campus if our collective goal is to see Penn State’s environment truly improved.

Throughout my exploration of campus, I came across numerous pieces of pollution, ranging from everyday to professional materials. Pollution not only makes our campus less clean, but also endangers wildlife who are at risk of getting trapped in or eating it. This forgotten stake flag, presumably used in professional development of Penn State’s campus, brings awareness to the idea that we have a responsibility to prioritize upkeep just as much as expanding. This inspires me to bring attention to and contribute to cleaning initiatives that address pollution issues. If everyone makes greater efforts to keep up with litter of all kinds, we can make space for our campus to reflect the love we have for it.

My name is Alayna Dake and I am a third-year student in the elementary and early childhood education program. I enjoy doing yoga and spending time with my two cats, Oliver and Tails. After graduation, I hope to teach in an elementary school in Pennsylvania and leave positive, lasting impacts on all of my future students.