Six UGA students awarded campus sustainability grants

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Office of Sustainability has awarded grants totaling $20,000 to six students as part of its second annual Campus Sustainability Grants program. The money, which comes from the student-paid green fee, will fund projects aimed at advancing campus sustainability.

Twenty-one grant proposals were submitted in December and evaluated by a selection committee composed of UGA students, faculty and staff. Each winning proposal addressed priorities outlined in UGA’s 2020 Strategic Plan to conserve resources, educate the campus community about environmental issues and provide research to further sustainability at the university.

“It was fun to read all of the proposals,” said Kate Klein, a senior environmental health sciences major, co-chair of the Go Green Alliance and one of three students on the selection committee. “It was really cool to see how people were thinking about sustainability in so many different senses.”

Recipients of the 2012 Campus Sustainability Grants are as follows:

Brandi Bishop, a senior agricultural education major at the UGA Tifton campus, will develop a recycling program at the extended campus. She plans to install 60 waste reduction stations in 15 of the busiest buildings on the campus. The stations will make it easier and more convenient to recycle and will save items from being sent to landfills. Bishop will also implement a public relations campaign to encourage university and community members to reduce their waste.

Katie Shepard, a master’s student in the department of crop and soil sciences, will monitor the effectiveness of an East Campus rain garden at filtering pollutants from storm water runoff. Shepard’s project will take soil moisture and water quality measurements to determine how well the rain garden does its job. Her findings will help ensure that other current and future rain gardens on campus continue to act as effective storm water filters. The project will be monitored by classes in the department of crop and soil sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the College of Environment and Design, allowing it to serve as a living laboratory for future education.

Chris McDowell, a master’s student in the College of Environment and Design, will demonstrate how construction and demolition waste products can be diverted from the landfill and converted into tangible community-based improvements. He will work with authorities to collect waste items from construction sites and, with the help of volunteers, will reuse materials to complete construction projects that benefit the campus and local community. He also plans to implement a communications campaign to recruit volunteers and educate the public on the benefits of material reuse.

JoHannah Biang, a master’s student in horticulture, will construct a living wall planted with seasonal herbs and vegetables to research and demonstrate the effectiveness of vertical gardening. The wall will be installed at UGArden, UGA’s campus community garden, and will be maintained by student volunteers. The herbs and vegetables grown on the wall will be harvested by Campus Kitchens for distribution to the Northeast Georgia Food Bank and community members in need.

Graham Pickren, a doctoral student in geography, is expanding a program that collects, donates and recycles unwanted items from student residence halls during move-out week. Pickren will be working with Dawgs Ditch the Dumpster Move-Out Donation Program to implement an electronic waste collection to go along with the clothing and furniture donation program. At the end of the year, students will have the chance to bring unwanted electronics to campus drop-off sites to be recycled or donated to local charities.

Zach Richardson, a senior landscape architecture student, will create a prescribed grazing program to remove exotic invasive plants and restore native forest adjacent to Tanyard Creek. His project will use a herd of goats to remove non-native plants such as privet and English ivy. He, along with faculty in the College of Environment and Design and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, will coordinate student volunteers to assist the four-legged campus visitors in removing larger invasive plants from the project area and will monitor the project’s effectiveness over time.

Last year, the office awarded $13,000 to fund four projects: to install water bottle refilling stations in the Miller Learning Center, to create a rainwater harvesting system at the UGArden, to establish the Dawgs Ditch the Dumpster move-out donation program and to start a bike share program on East Campus, a project that is still in progress.

Kevin Kirsche, director of the Office of Sustainability, said the grant program is a great way for students to get involved and make a real, noticeable difference on campus.

“The Campus Sustainability Grants program provides students valuable experience in grant-writing and an opportunity for hands-on implementation of sustainable practices,” he said. “We enjoy working with students to take their ideas from concept to completion.”

For more information on Campus Sustainability Grants and other initiatives of the UGA Office of Sustainability, see http://www.sustainability.uga.edu/.