The seed of a new program was planted over the summer at Weber State University. The new Environmental Ambassadors are testing the waters to make WSU campuses more sustainable.
Leroy Christensen, who is part of the Environmental Club, is trying to become one of the Environmental Ambassadors.
“The Environmental Ambassadors are solely focused on creating a more sustainable campus,” Christensen said.
This is a somewhat narrower focus on the WSU campuses as opposed to in the Environmental Club, which also advocates in the community and at the state, national and international levels. One of the primary objectives in this mission would be educating students on campus on how to be more sustainable.
“There are probably some things that they’ll be able to do that we won’t,” Christensen said.
One of the first projects the Ambassadors have planned is to go through trash at the WSU residence halls and show students what is recyclable and what is not. This will be followed by a trivia activity with a questionnaire for students in attendance.
“The Environmental Ambassadors are probably going to get real down and dirty in the residence hall and see what they can do to educate students there,” Christensen said.
Other activities the Ambassadors have planned include a tour of waste management and recycling facilities, participation in Campus Conservation Nationals, a clothing exchange, and collection of pledges for energy reduction.
WSU faculty member and student Hannah Rice, who is also the student sustainability coordinator, led the creation of the Environmental Ambassadors, which is tied to the sustainability fund WSU just gained.
“Hopefully, I see it growing into a course for the university,” Rice said.
It might also turn into an employment opportunity for students. However, the program is still being vetted out, according to Environmental Ambassador Heidi Hidalgo.
“As of right now, they’re just kind of testing the waters and recruiting a few people to carry out a few little projects on campus to see how it would work,” Hidalgo said.
The current program goal is to train a core group of students as environmental educators and activists. Hidalgo said the aim of the program is to change campus culture to get students directly involved in sustainability on campus.
“It’s supposed to be a group of students who are going to be carrying out environmental projects on the campus,” she said.
Rice said the program has already seen success this semester, as far as progress toward reaching this goal.
“Since we started, it’s been really great and we’ve had a lot of interest and we’ve gotten a lot of committed students,” Rice said.
Rice also mentioned benefits students could receive as part of the program.
“A student incentive is that they are able to get community outreach volunteer hours,” she said.
The next goal is to increase overall student awareness of environmental actions and ways to effect individual change on campus. The core group of students participating in the program would reach out to other students who want to promote campus sustainability. Finally, the program hopes to institutionalize environmental stewardship within the student body in the long term. A number of projects and physical changes to campus, including solar panels and a natural gas station, have already done much to make the campus greener. The Ambassadors program aims to expand this type of green activity on campus.
More information on the Environmental Ambassadors and sustainability at WSU can be found at http://www.weber.edu/sustainability/environmental_ambassadors.html.