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Get Involved - Students - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Get Involved – Students

Get Involved – Students

Get involved with the Office of Sustainability

Depending on your level of interest, there are many different ways to work directly with the Office of Sustainability.  Leaders of sustainability-related student groups gather twice a year to exchange information and coordinate their efforts.

Volunteer Listserv – Be the first to know about volunteer opportunities

Green Graduation Pledge – Graduating seniors commit to sustainability after Wake Forest

Greeks Go Green – Peer-to-peer education within Greek life at Wake Forest

Sustainability Ambassadors –  Student sustainability peer educators at Wake Forest

Sustainability Internships – Available internships and application form

Student groups with a sustainability-related focus

Becoming a member of these student groups and organizations is another way to contribute to building a sustainable campus community.

Sustainability Theme House  – A chance for students to immerse themselves in sustainable living

EcoTHEO – Student organization at the Wake Forest School of Divinity

Net Impact Club – Student organization at the Wake Forest Schools of Business

Student Environmental Action Coalition – Wake Forest’s student-run environmental group

Outdoor Pursuits – An outdoor adventure program for students

Campus Kitchen – A food recycling and service group



Congratulations Class of 2015 Interns

July 6th, 2015

Bridge_EmilyWe sent off our graduating interns from the Class of 2015 with hearty congratulations on their outstanding achievements.

Bridget Keeler graduated with a major in economics with a minor in environmental studies. After working as the campus dining intern for ARAMARK her sophomore year, Bridget studied sustainability abroad and returned to serve as a Greeks Go Green intern for the 2014-2015 academic year. She is working at Aramark headquarters in a one-year management program, Accelerate to Leadership.

Her reflection on her internship: My time with the office allowed me to further explore my interest in sustainability, and made me realize that my career path points toward the sustainable business sector. Working in the office provided me with invaluable information and experience, and I am very grateful for the guidance that was provided by Dedee and Hannah.

Araceli Morales-Santos graduated Cum Laude with a major in biology with a minor in Spanish. Araceli served as a Campus Garden intern in fall 2014 before going abroad in spring 2015.  She earned a Fulbright Scholarship and will be an English teaching assistant in Brazil.

Her reflection on her internship: As an intern with the Office of Sustainability I gained valuable work experience and career tools that I will carry with me everywhere I go. Moreover, I was impressed at the level of professionalism that this internship offered and expected from each of the interns. What I most appreciate from my experience with the Office of Sustainability is the regular check-ins…[the] constructive criticism was helpful for me because professionally, it has helped me grow. As an intern, I also enjoyed all work and time spent in the garden. There is nothing more special than heading to the garden on a warm afternoon with a nice breeze and getting your hands and feet dirty harvesting and talking to the volunteers about their day and interest in gardening. I can’t thank the Office of Sustainability enough for offering me the opportunity to have this wonderful experience. 

Emily Pence graduated Cum Laude with a major in mathematical business and minor in French. Emily served as a Greeks Go Green Intern for five consecutive semesters.

Her reflection on her internship: I am so thankful to have been able serve as an intern for the Office of Sustainability over the past few years. My internship has helped me grow into a more thoughtful, dynamic and professional individual, and has provided me with an opportunity to learn from and work alongside some of the most passionate and devoted members of the community. It has been such a rewarding experience to have been on a team with students who come from such diverse backgrounds, yet who share a similar commitment to stewardship and environmental sustainability. Looking back on my time at Wake Forest, my internship has been one of the most valuable and formative experiences I have been fortunate enough to have; it will be one that will stay with me as I enter the next chapter of my life. 

mcMacaela Seward graduated with a major in biology and was commissioned with distinction as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Chemical Corps. Macaela served as the Sustainability in Dining intern for the 2014-2015 academic year. She will begin training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. In the fall she will be moving to South Korea to be the Chemical Officer for an Assault Helicopter Battalion.

Her reflection on her internship: My experience as the Sustainability in Dining Intern was eye-opening. Being sustainable as an individual is very different than at a corporate level, and it was incredibly interesting to learn how sustainable practices are implemented. In my internship I learned all about what food purchases are made and how we select vendors, as well as being able to run a project of my choosing and helping to prepare the STARS 2.0 review. It has been a great experience being the Dining Intern, and I will certainly be able to apply the skills I’ve learned in this internship – time management skills, creativity, resilience, tenacity – to the future.

Natalie Solomon graduated with a double major in psychology and religious studies with a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement. Natalie served as a Campus Garden Intern in the spring of 2015. She will begin a five year journey to earn a Doctorate in Psychology from Stanford Consortium in the fall.

Her reflection on her internship: Recently in the garden, the strawberries came up and I felt a profound sense of fulfillment and happiness. My internship has deepened my understanding of therapeutic resources. I have really loved that my internship included a physical component, that of literally gardening, and that my internship in the garden highlighted that the body and mind are the vehicles for pain, pleasure, and prayer. I have completed my Religion and Public Engagement Concentration on this fluidity of the inner and outer components of a person, much informed and influenced by my work in the garden. The garden has helped me to literally ground what I am learning in class and intern meetings, as well as provide a therapeutic outlet.  This is a resource that was very rewarding to share with others. I honestly felt like my work in the garden reconnected me with the therapeutic resources of the outdoors that were central to my childhood in rural Southern Africa. My internship in the garden has provided me with a wider perspective and deeper understanding of sustainable agriculture, components of education, stewardship to the Earth, and benefits of the outdoors.

We wish all of our former interns who graduated with the Class of 2015 a fond farewell:

Jack Sypek, energy conservation intern with Facilities and Campus Services, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in biology.

Elena Dolman, staff writer, graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors in English.

Shoshanna Goldin, former Sustainable Community Development intern, graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors in interdisciplinary studies – global health.

Maegan Olmstead, former Communications and Outreach intern, graduated with a major in communications.

David Song, former Campus Garden intern, graduated with a major in biology.

Nicky Vogt, former Campus Garden intern, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in politics and international affairs with double minors in Spanish and psychology.

Campus Sustainability Awards

April 28th, 2015

2015 Champions of Change award winners

On the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, change agents for sustainability across the Wake Forest campus gathered for the Champions of Change campus sustainability awards. The awards program recognizes the creativity and innovation of individuals and teams who work to integrate principles of sustainability into operations, teaching, and engagement. Dean of the School of Divinity, Gail O’Day, and Chief of Staff for the Office of the President, Mary Pugel, presented the awards.

Winners were recognized in four categories: Resource Conservation, Service and Social Action, Teaching Research and Engagement, and Bright Ideas.

  • The Office of the Registrar and the Surplus Property Program won in the Resource Conservation category. This year, the Office of the University Registrar completed four projects that saved over 13,000 pieces of paper, as well as printing and mailing costs for the university. Since its start in 2011, the Surplus Property Program has diverted nearly 250,000 lbs. of waste from the landfill, repurposed over 3,000 pieces of furniture and other items for use on campus, captured close to 30,000 lbs of residential electronic waste through a free pickup program, and helped the university avoid over $1 million dollars of new purchase costs.
  • Department of Religion faculty member Steve Boyd was named as a winner in the Service and Social Action category. Steve was recognized for his leadership of the Religion and Public Engagement Program and his statewide organizing of Scholars for North Carolina’s Future. Since its approval in 2011, 17 students have graduated with the Religion and Public Engagement concentration, and a record 12 more are set to graduate this year.
  • Ron Von Burg was recognized for Teaching, Research and Engagement. Ron teaches the popular interdisciplinary undergraduate course Humanity & Nature; taught the communications workshop and led a graduate research course on Coasts and Climate Change in Belize this year for the new MA in Sustainability; and directs undergraduate students in writing and performing plays for school-aged children and “moot court”-style debates on sustainability issues annually. He is also an alumnus of Wake Forest’s own sustainability-across-the curriculum workshop, the Magnolias Project, and is co-facilitating that workshop for the second time this year.
  • JL Bolt and the construction team of Facilities and Campus Services and Frank Shelton with Residence Life and Housing were recognized for a Bright Idea partnership. The construction team upcycled discarded bed frames from residence halls into white boards, bulletin board frames, safety bed rails, storage racks, benches, tables, mirror replacements, and mail boxes.

Additionally, Green Team captains Barbara Macri and Kate Ruley were named champions of change for their departmental leadership. As the Green Team captain for Human Resources, Barbara facilitated a department-wide sustainability goal-setting pilot, working collaboratively to develop a range of goals to meet the varying needs of her colleagues.

Kate coordinates the tracking of our institutional food purchases, identifying and calculating what we spend on regionally-grown, organic, and fair-trade-certified items. She mentors the team’s sustainability intern, and advocates for sustainable choices in menu development and procurement.

65% of our departments and units across campus are now led by Green Team captains – they support their colleagues with the resources and encouragement to integrate sustainability into everyday workplace decisions.

Learn more about the Champions of Change award program and explore a list of last year’s winners.

Sorority T-Shirts Get a Makeover

March 20th, 2015
ggg shirts

The t-shirts from three of the organizations: Kappa Beta Gamma, Chi Omega, and Kappa Delta.

Sororities at Wake Forest University are notorious for the number of shirts that bear their letters. Each spring, hundreds of underclass women join Greek organizations and, as part of a campus wide tradition, are gifted previous semesters’ t-shirts. In a way, this “passing down” of t-shirts can be viewed as a sustainable ritual. On the other hand, it does not quell the flow of ordering among these groups.

The global impact of the perpetual purchasing of t-shirts is often lost on the women who are placing the orders. The average conventional cotton t-shirt requires about 700 gallons of water and a half pound of pesticide and herbicide for production. Between the growing, manufacturing, and transporting processes, each shirt is also responsible for a significant amount of energy use.

Last fall, Greeks Go Green, a network of peer-to-peer educators for sustainability, started an initiative to increase conscious consumerism throughout the Greek community at Wake Forest. The effort encourages individuals to incorporate measures of environmental and social impacts into purchasing decisions.  Greeks Go Green interns Bridget Keeler (’15) and Emily Pence (’15) identified purchasing among Greek organizations as a primary contributor to members’ ecological footprints.  They worked to teach representatives of each organization how to identify the ecological and social impacts of their purchases so that they could guide their organizations.

At the end of the annual January sorority recruitment period, each chapter gives out new t-shirts to their members. This equates to roughly 1,400 t-shirts distributed in a single day. The impact of the t-shirts distributed on bid day at Wake Forest equates to about 980,000 gallons of water used and 700 pounds of herbicides/pesticides used. The effects of the excessive use of water and herbicides for these shirts are enormously detrimental to the global environment.

Cotton is a fragile and resource intensive crop, and while there is no simple solution to reducing the excessive amount of water and chemicals required to produce these shirts, there are ways to lessen the environmental impacts of an individual cotton t-shirt. In the fall of 2014, the Greeks Go Green representatives presented information to their chapters on ways to order t-shirts in (un)conventional ways—ways that would be less environmentally resource intensive and that may have beneficial financial impacts in the regional economy. Options included buying locally sewn and printed shirts, shirts made from regionally and/or organically grown cotton, as well as garments printed with water-based dyes. The interns suggested that the sororities on campus aim to use organic cotton or recycled fabric t-shirts as a minimum baseline for the shirts they would be ordering for the January 12th bid day.

Four of the sororities chose to participate in the initiative, adding up to approximately 732 t-shirts. These sororities were Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Kappa Beta Gamma, and Kappa Delta. Their purchases included garments from Port and Company, Royal Apparel, and Alternative Earth’s environmentally preferable lines.

The campaign aims to support a growing trend of environmentally and socially preferable purchasing among Greek organizations throughout the spring of 2015, with an ongoing push to reduce the volume of purchasing overall.

Bridget Keeler (’15) and Emily Pence (’15), Greeks Go Green Interns

Call for 2015 Sustainability Interns

March 17th, 2015

sustainabilityinternAre you a student interested in making a difference and gaining professional development experience? The following paid internships are available to all Wake Forest University students for fall 2015. In order to apply, please fill out this form. Unless otherwise noted, these internships are with the Office of Sustainability. Please note, interns are required to attend an on-campus sustainability orientation August 19th – 21st.

Internship applications are due by Friday, April 10th at 5:00pm.

Campus Garden 
The intern will collaborate with expert garden mentors, faculty, staff, student, and community volunteers to manage the campus garden across from Spry Soccer Stadium on Polo Road. Management entails all aspects of growing seasonally appropriate crops including, but not limited to, developing and maintaining rotation and cover cropping plans, starting and transplanting crops, watering, mulching, and composting food/yard waste.  The intern will coordinate garden volunteer opportunities, explore service learning possibilities with interested faculty, and organize major events in the campus garden. The successful candidate will be enthusiastic, outgoing, and will have strong organizational skills. Experience with medium-scale community gardening is strongly preferred.

Greeks Go Green 
The intern will co-lead the Greeks Go Green initiative by holding weekly meetings with established Greeks Go Green representatives and organizing monthly presentations and events throughout the semester. The intern must be an active member of a recognized Greek organization on campus. Excellent leadership and organizational skills are required.

ARAMARK – Sustainability in Dining 
Learn more about the responsibilities of the Sustainability in Dining intern on ARAMARK’s website.

Facilities & Campus Services – Energy Management

The intern will assist Facilities and Campus Services with communications, energy competitions, monitoring energy usage on the campus through computer programs and by physically walking around the campus, occasionally during late hours. Other responsibilities include gathering, compiling, and analyzing data from various WFU departments, coordinating with the Office of Sustainability and attending meetings as necessary. The intern must have experience using Excel and a passion for reducing energy usage.

Propose a Unique Internship
Have a great idea for an internship, but don’t see it on our list? Feel free to submit a unique internship proposal. We are always looking for new, innovative ways to promote sustainability on campus. Your proposal should include an articulation of the need for the proposed project and the landscape of issues surrounding the project.

Are you a Champion of Change?

March 10th, 2015

13986404976_fc43a405df_zHave you facilitated a change to a sustainable practice on campus? Are you teaching a sustainability-focused course or leading a research effort with sustainability-centered outcomes? We want to hear about it!

On April 22, 2015 Wake Forest will host our second annual Champions of Change award ceremony.

Complete this form by April 7, 2015 to nominate yourself or someone else as a Champion of Change for campus sustainability. Explore a list of last year’s winners.

We will accept nominations for awards that honor sustainability through:

  • resource conservation (energy, water, or waste reduction),
  • academics (teaching, research, engaged learning),
  • service and social action, and
  • bright ideas (innovative ideas that have been or could be implemented).

PRO+ECT Event Increases Awareness

January 29th, 2015

Click to view more photos from the event

For a conservation event with potentially apocalyptic connotations, Thursday’s “Pledging Responsibility for Oceans and Environmental Change Today” in Brendle Recital Hall was frank, optimistic and self-aware: panelist and scientist Nancy Knowlton even pledged to keep audience members “not utterly depressed,” to noticeable titters.

The panel, an effort to engage the public on the importance of oceans and their nascent fragility as a result of climate change, garnered a sizable crowd, perhaps partially due to the celebrity of the panelists speaking: Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic oceanographer; Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science at Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of Natural History; and Amanda Leland, vice president for Oceans at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Despite the preliminary call for optimism, the scientists made the audience aware of the current dire state of the world’s oceans. Overfishing and pollution have ravaged our oceans to noticeable decline: species are becoming extinct, including New England’s famed Atlantic cod. Forty percent of fisheries are in jeopardy.

The implications, Leland stated, are as environmental as they are economic: Somali pirates originated as fisherman who ran out of fish to extract. In addition, three million of the world’s population depends on the oceans as its only source of protein.

Knowlton and Leland revealed that the solution to ocean deterioration lies largely in policy, and that increased management of fishing policies can improve fish quantities in the ocean and decrease overall waste.

However, in a visit to an undergraduate and graduate lab classroom earlier that day, Earle argued that extracting any organisms from the ocean would be problematic to the structure of the food chain, according to Wake Forest professor Dr. Katie Lotterhos, who attended the earlier session and whose area of research is marine biology.

Hope for ocean renewal is within reach, the scientists said, with policy and attitude change: “Fish are not just clumps of meat waiting for us to extract them,” said Earle.

Instead, proper fishing and ocean regulations have the capacity to revitalize communities, ecosystems, and expose the “ocean’s natural resilience.”

Lotterhos, who invited the three scientists to campus, hoped the event left people “feeling cautiously optimistic.”

“We will have to take responsibility soon if we want to have sustainable ocean ecosystems, but it is not too late yet,” she said.

By Elena Dolman (’15), Staff Writer


New Academic Year Brings New Opportunities for the Sustainability House

November 13th, 2014
A few members of the Sust'y House dress up for their "First Day of School" photo, that also hangs in the house.

A few members of the Sust’y House dress up for a funny “First Day of School” photo.

The sustainability house, most commonly referred to as the “Sust’y House,” has experienced a revival this year and it is truly better than ever. This eclectic community of environmentally conscious students once called 1141 Polo Road “home,” but sadly had to part ways with the beautiful house due to structural damage in the basement. Last year, the Sust’y Community experienced a bit of a diaspora, spread out between a tiny four-person house, a north campus apartment, and a room in the Ahuva house.

This year, however, Sust’y is officially back, with everyone under one roof. Equipped with two porches and ample room for 10 students, the Sustainability House has found a gracious new home at 1157 Polo Road. Over the years, this theme living community has become an integral part of life at Wake Forest, most prominently known for its delicious spaghetti dinner nights and its always-welcoming environment. Alyshah Aziz, a junior living in the house, says “It’s a place where students from all different pockets of campus come together.” It is one of the few communities at Wake Forest where you can find true diversity of interests and social circles; membership ranges from the Cycling Club, to Gender Equality Allies, computer science, Office of Sustainability interns, and even members of Greek life.

Despite the diversity among the members, there is a palpable feeling of unity within the house. “This house has gone beyond a residential area, it has become a place where we find family,” says Ann Nguyen, a new house member this year.  The Sustainability House is a reminder of the importance of exploring life outside the comfortable realms of our small social circles, and of finding common ground and friendship as Demon Deacons.  As theme program assistant David Hughes reflects, “For me, Sust’y means making the world a more habitable place, both ecologically and socially.  It is a place that strives to be a welcoming sanctuary, and a hub to promote sustainability through engaging the community.”

This year, the Sust’y House is rich with old and new faces, as well as old and new traditions. In addition to the regular homemade spaghetti dinner nights, residents and friends are also enjoying Quesadilla Nights on Thursdays.  Both house members and regular visitors are very excited for this academic year and renewed community at the Sustainability House.

By Andrea Becker (’16)

Congratulations Class of 2014 Interns

May 27th, 2014

Intern_PhotoOn May 19th, the Office of Sustainability proudly graduated five sustainability interns. We are grateful for the numerous contributions they have made to our office and to the Wake Forest community.

Karleigh Ash graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. Karleigh worked for the Office of Sustainability as the Photography intern in the spring of 2012 as well as this past year.

Her reflection on the internship: My internship with the Office of Sustainability has really shaped my college experience for the better. I was lucky enough to start interning in the spring of my sophomore year and I have been connected in various ways ever since. I have learned things about how to live a sustainable lifestyle that will stick with me for the rest of my life. My fellow interns and our mentors Dedee and Hannah have been such an inspiration to never let the problems we face get too overwhelming. There is always something that we can do, no matter how small.

Glenn Bergesen graduated with a BA in Psychology and a double minor in Environmental Studies and Biology. Glenn joined the sustainability team as the Earth Day Planning Intern in the spring of 2014.

His reflection on his internship: I could not have asked for a more rewarding and challenging experience. It allowed me to learn from and work with some of the best and most wonderful faculty and staff members at Wake. The work was fun, engaging, and the Office of Sustainability knows how to get things done!  Thank you for all that you do and I know that my experience here will forever shape how I pursue a future in sustainability.

Patrick Doran graduated with a BS in Business and Enterprise Management. This year he served as the Sustainability in Dining intern for Aramark.

His reflection on his internship: My internship exposed me to a wonderful field that works to leave a legacy and benefit others, namely posterity. I especially value my experience as sustainability is becoming increasingly prevalent in business, with companies becoming attuned to consumer demand for sustainable practice. Above all else, my internship gave me the opportunity to work with a group of people who are endlessly friendly, considerate, and passionate about what they do.

Dominik Haja graduated Cum Laude and earned departmental honors with a BS in Chemistry with a Biochemistry concentration. Claire Nagy-Kato graduated with a BA in Chemistry and a minor in Environmental Studies.

Dominik and Claire both served as Energy interns for the Office of Energy Management.

Fourth Annual Arbor Day Celebration

May 27th, 2014

022Students and staff circled around a vibrant Japanese Maple tree at Student Apartments on April 24th to celebrate Arbor Day. Landscaping Services, Residence Life and Housing, and the Office of Sustainability co-hosted the ceremony in conjunction with a Campus Beautification Day celebration that was organized by Greeks Go Green interns.

University Arborist Jim Mussetter,  presented the ceremonial tree, a cultivar known as Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ or “Lion’s Head.” Mussetter described that this specific cultivar was chosen for its slow growth and striking fall foliage of gold and crimson tones. As the first ‘shishigashira’ introduced to campus, the tree will be a seasonal focal point in the housing courtyard for decades to come.  University Chaplain Tim Auman led a poetry reading before guests in attendance planted the tree.

Immediately following the ceremony, students divided into groups, led by Greeks Go Green representatives, to pick up litter across campus as part of the Campus Beautification Day celebration. From small tools to cigarette butts, students collected litter of all shapes and sizes in an effort to Keep the Forest Green. Participants were recognized for their contributions: the first-year class turned out in the highest numbers as did brothers from Alpha Sigma Phi. After the clean-up, students were rewarded with at a cookout, including grass-fed burgers made from Grayson Natural beef, which was generously co-sponsored by Residence Life and Housing, Outdoor Programs, and Landscaping Services.

The fourth annual Arbor Day ceremony and the inaugural Campus Beautification Day service event exemplify Wake Forest University’s commitment to our Tree Campus USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Inaugural Champions of Change Awards

May 6th, 2014

Wake Forest’s celebration of Earth Day this year included the announcement of Champions of Change award winners. This was the first year of the program, which recognizes the creativity and innovation of individuals and teams who work to integrate principles of sustainability across campus. Provost Rogan Kersh and Sr. VP/CFO Hof Milam presented the awards.

Click to view more photos from the ceremony.

Winners were recognized in four categories: Resource Conservation, Service and Social Action, Teaching Research and Engagement, and Bright Ideas.

  • Residence Life & Housing and Financial Services were jointly named champions of change in Resource Conservation. Residence Life and Housing dramatically reduced solid waste and conserved water through renovation and retrofit programs this past year; Financial Services supported the conversion to electronic business processes campus-wide.
  • Campus Kitchen was named as a winner in the Service and Social Action category. Campus Kitchen repurposes prepared, but not served, food from our campus dining facilities into balanced meals for members of the broader Winston-Salem community.
  • For Teaching, Research and Engagement, Lynn Book and her faculty colleagues Angela Kocze and Wanda Balzano were recognized for their work in the new course, “Women, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability.” Students collaborated with community partners Margaret Norfleet-Neff and Salem Neff, the mother-daughter team who founded the Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market.
  • Abby McNeal was recognized for her Bright Idea in turf management and the installation of the UgMo Wireless Soil Sensor System at Spry Soccer Field. UgMo is an underground monitoring system that measures soil moisture at the root level and determines when and how much to water on a zone-to-zone basis.

Thirty nominations were received for the four awards. A committee evaluated the nominations based on:

  • The level of participation by colleagues within the department or unit
  • The measurable impact among constituents across campus or in the community served

Additionally, Green Team captains Peter Romanov, Darlene Starnes and Carol Lavis were named champions of change for their departmental leadership. 65% of our departments and units across campus are now led by Green Team captains – they support their colleagues with the resources and encouragement to integrate sustainability into everyday workplace decisions.