Freshman to publish book on creation care

Emma Sleeth

WILMORE, KY—Emma Sleeth, a freshman at Asbury College, may not be able to cast her vote in general elections or drive a car, but this fall Zondervan will publish her book on creation care. Emma, who turned 16 last August, starting writing her book, “Paradise Imperiled,” as her AP English project last spring.

Creation care is nothing new to Emma, whose father, Dr. Matthew Sleeth, is the author of “Serve God, Save the Planet.” She calls taking care of the planet the “family business.”

The 16-year-old English major spent most of her childhood in Freeport, Maine. When she was 12 her father, an emergency room director and chief of medical staff, felt the call to leave the medical profession and devote himself full-time to teaching, writing and preaching about faith and the environment. The family moved to a smaller town in New Hampshire and built a passive solar home to conserve energy. Instead of grass, the Sleeth family grew wild flowers in their yard. They also purchased hybrid cars. Emma said her family’s transition to using less energy and resources happened gradually. Her only gripe was hand washing the dishes, but even that has become more of a joy since she and her brother share the duty.

Emma wrote her book for high school and college students. She believes that the problems with the environment are more about a lack of knowledge than apathy. “If my generation knew that there was a problem, I think they would rise to the challenge,” she said.
In her book, Emma describes the many adjustments people can make that will save resources including changing light bulbs, taking shorter showers, carpooling, recycling, and turning off and unplugging electrical appliances when not in use.

Her goal was to finish the book before her 16th birthday, so she spent May and June 2006 completing it. She wrote an average of seven pages per day—taking turns on the computer with her brother, Clark, who is a junior at the College. After she completed her writing for the day, she and her mother would edit it together. Her father, however, has yet to read it. Emma said, “I really wanted to do this independently.”

Shortly after Emma completed the first draft of her book, her family moved to Wilmore so that her parents could be closer to Emma and Clark. This would conserve energy and fuel that would be otherwise spent on traveling for visits. Her mother, Nancy Sleeth, now teaches English at the College.

After moving to Kentucky and starting college, Emma set aside her manuscript while adjusting to college life. Then she went to a goal setting workshop last fall sponsored by Lead-ON, an Asbury College leadership organization. At Lead-ON, Andy Bathje, associate dean of leadership development, walked students through the steps to setting good goals using the SMART model (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely). Emma’s new goal was to publish her book. She edited the manuscript and sent in a book proposal over Thanksgiving break. A few days before Christmas, she got a call telling her that it was accepted.

Her new book isn’t the only way Emma is trying to promote creation care. She is involved in Think Green, an environmentally conscience group in the residence halls. She also is a member of an environmental discussion group, which started shortly after her father spoke in chapel in January. Andy Bathje helps host the group every Wednesday evening. He said, “It has been great to have her part of that group. She is much further along thinking about environmental issues. She brings a lot of experience and knowledge with her.”

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