Students play key role in Virginia Tech's sustainable living efforts

Students have been directly involved with sustainability initiatives at Virginia Tech for years through volunteer recycling and energy savings programs.
   

By not using trays in the dining centers, Virginia Tech students help to reduce food waste and become more aware of their food consumption. By not using trays in the dining centers, Virginia Tech students help to reduce food waste and become more aware of their food consumption.

Given increased awareness of sustainable living standards, the Division of Student Affairs has made a commitment to reduce waste, save energy, and be a responsible steward of natural resources. Student leaders have collaborated with the division to develop sustainable living programs and initiatives that encourage active involvement.

Throughout the university community, Virginia Tech students are making decisions that have a positive impact on the environment where they live and learn.

From Eco-Olympics, to dining services' composting program, to going trayless in some of the dining halls, Virginia Tech students help shape the future of campus sustainability for generations to come.

Departments within student affairs help students on this learning journey. For instance, University Unions and Student Activities has developed a 10-point sustainability improvement plan, while Career Services helps students who wish to find careers in a growing market of green jobs.

   

John Scherer, executive chef at Owens Dining Center, harvests herbs from the Kentland Farm. John Scherer, executive chef at Owens Dining Center, harvests herbs from the Kentland Farm herb garden to use in the dining centers.

Alex Funk, of Woodstock, Va., is a senior majoring in environmental policy and planning in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, and is also the director of sustainability for the Student Government Association. He said he believes if everyone got involved a difference could be made, locally and globally.

“We all consume natural resources, use electricity, and generate waste … we only have one planet and we need to take care of it,” he said. 

Funk has been living the university motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) since he was a boy scout. After graduating in May 2010, Funk will attend the Vermont Law School to pursue a career in environmental law. He said his dream is to work for a nonprofit organization that supports natural resources.

“Virginia Tech is in the beginning of a major campus sustainability movement, and I’m happy that I was involved in getting that process started,” he said.

Rachael Budowle is the sustainability coordinator for Housing and Dining Services, a department within student affairs.

Budowle said that one of the most innovative programs the division is leading right now is the Division of Student Affairs Green Team. This group brings together representatives from departments within the division to communicate about their individual sustainability initiatives.

“The Green Team decided to take on a deliverable project with the Green Event and Meeting Program,” Budowle said. “The goal of the program is to incorporate sustainable principles into events and meetings while offering appropriate recognition for those efforts.”

Budowle said the hope is that the program spreads beyond student affairs. Housing Services hosted the first certified Green Event on campus with a green move-out in May 2010. The event, which was supported by students, included recycling opportunities, environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, and highlighted the on-going Ytoss? Program.

   

Students can enjoy the local and organic foods offered at the Farms and Fields Project located in Owens Food Court. Students can enjoy the local and organic foods offered at the Farms and Fields Project located in Owens Food Court.

Budowle also explained the Farm and Fields Project in Owens Food Court which was created to provide students with sustainable, organic, and local food options.

Another program she and students have been involved with is the Dining Services’ herb garden at Kentland Farms.

“In an attempt to increase local and sustainable foods on campus we partnered with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to plant an herb garden with the help of student volunteers,” she said.

Because of the program’s success,it has been expanded to a one-acre plot to include vegetables. “This summer, for the first time, new students and their families will get to enjoy some of the sustainable foods we’re growing when they visit dining facilities on campus for orientation,” Budowle said. “They will be able to directly experience our efforts, and see firsthand that Virginia Tech and the Division of Student Affairs are committed to sustainable practices.”

From organizations to individual involvement, Budowle said students have consistently helped influence sustainability changes throughout campus.

“We can create infrastructure and administrative policy changes, but students really make the difference when they change their behavior and partner with us on sustainability projects,” Budowle said.

  • For more information on this topic, contact Katie Gehrt at (540) 231-8068 .

Share this

 

Share

Spotlight Archive

Look through previous Spotlight stories

Access the archives