The mission of Greeks Go Green, founded in the spring of 2011, is to involve members of the Wake Forest Greek Community in sustainability initiatives on campus. All eight Panhellenic Conference sorority chapters at Wake Forest have Greeks Go Green representatives.
Greeks Go Green uses a point system to track Greek involvement with sustainable events, initiatives, and ideas on campus. Each semester, the chapter earning the most points wins an award recognizing their commitment to sustainability at the Greek awards ceremony. In addition, all chapters who earn enough points through Greeks Go Green to meet designated benchmark will earn points on the Greek Standards of Excellence form.
Contact Greeks Go Green interns Emily Pence (email@example.com) or Stewart Rickert (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information on how to get involved!
The Student Sustainability Group network kicked off the spring semester with a networking meeting to discuss opportunities for cross-campus collaboration. Representatives of student groups that support sustainability at WFU, including EcoTheo, Net Impact, the Environmental Law Society, Campus Garden, Greeks Go Green, Outdoor Pursuits, SEAC, and VSC gathered to discuss semester activities.
The network meeting provided an opportunity to explore future collaborations and share events planned for the semester. Sarah Millsaps (’16) attended the meeting on behalf of Outdoor Pursuits (OP). OP recently introduced events that engage students on campus through activities like Smores Outdoors. Millsaps found the event particularly helpful: “Getting together with other leaders and collaborating in ways to promote sustainability on campus allows us to better know the community and thus better serve it.”
Tori Erb (’14) and Jake Teitelbaum (’16) attended on behalf of the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC). The two discussed SEAC’s plans to host an Earth Hour event in late March. Greeks Go Green representatives Emily Pence (’15) and Stewart Rickert (’16) valued the support they received from the network in planning a campus-wide beautification day.
For the three graduate organizations who attended — the Environmental Law Society, Net Impact, and EcoTheo — the event was an opportunity to engage with undergraduates and students outside of their respective schools. Ryan Lesley (’06, MBA ’14), co-president of Wake Forest’s chapter of the MBA organization Net Impact, shared information about upcoming speakers and projects.
The Office of Sustainability serves as a convener of these organizations; the semi-annual Student Sustainability Group meeting helps individual organizations increase their reach across campus by allowing students with similar goals to identify opportunities to collaborate.
To get involved in the Sustainability Group network or to learn more about upcoming events, stay connected to the Office of Sustainability through Facebook and Twitter and sign up for weekly sustainability updates on our homepage.
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator
Twenty-seven undergraduate students from diverse disciplines attended the first-ever Social Impact Career Workshop, co-sponsored by the Office of Personal & Career Development, Service & Social Action, My Journey, and the Office of Sustainability.
Part one of a three-part series, the workshop received overwhelmingly positive feedback through student evaluations. “It really opened my eyes to the myriad of options,” commented one student. “[The workshop] taught me about the ‘next step,’” noted another attendee.
During the first half of the event, Dr. Katharine Brooks, Executive Director of Personal and Career Development, led students through a self-reflection and planning exercise. The group then heard from a professional panel that included Dr. Ananda Mitra, Professor and Chair of Communication; Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, WFU Director of Sustainability; Ryan Lesley (’06, MBA ‘14), former Peace Corps volunteer and co-president of WFU Net Impact; and Alex Tsuji (MBA ’14), secretary of WFU Net Impact. After brief introductions from each panelist, students had the opportunity to ask questions. The discussion reflected interests that ranged from local to global issues and spanned sectors from non-governmental to corporate.
Former Wake Forest Fellow Annabel Lang (’12) developed the idea for the workshop while working with EcoReps, a peer sustainability education program of the Office of Sustainability. With an increasing number of Wake Forest students gaining sustainability-related experience through curricular and extracurricular endeavors, she saw a need to bridge the gap between these undergraduates’ experiences and their future professional lives.
Part two of the Social Impact Careers Workshop will take place Tuesday, January 15th, 2014 at 5:00PM. In this next installation, students will learn how to “pitch” their experiences, passions, and skills to potential employers. Additionally, attendees will learn how to take advantage of the upcoming Job & Internship Fair, on-campus opportunities for gaining social impact experience, job search resources, and networking strategies. To participate in part two, students should register through the DeaconSource calendar. It is not necessary to have participated in part one, in order to participate in part two.
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator
This coming April, Wake Forest will host our inaugural Champions of Change award ceremony.
In March, 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).
We look forward to hearing about the work of all the inspiring change agents across campus.
Allie Gruber (’13) knew she had a vague interest in sustainability when she boarded a plane bound for Peru in early June, following her sophomore year at Wake Forest University. She had no idea, however, that upon her return she would dedicate the remainder of her undergraduate career to learning about and advocating for the natural world. Her impressive list of sustainability credentials includes undergraduate research, two internships, and, perhaps most impressively, a tireless, personal peer outreach campaign.
Allie made her pivotal trip to the Amazon through the Wake Forest Tropical Diversity Program, a month-long study abroad opportunity offered by the biology department. The field program offers an in-depth exploration of biodiversity, which introduces students to the complex ecosystems of the tropics through hands-on learning. Allie remembers her study abroad experience in vivid detail, from her flight into Lima where the class studied the coast’s unique desert ecosystem to her second flight across the mountain range into Cuzco where she and her peers fought altitude sickness before taking a nine hour hike into the amazon basin. She recalls the hundreds of native hummingbird species her professors asked her to look out for on bird watching expeditions and well recalls the Manu research station, where she and her research partners, Chris Bobbitt (’12) and Brad Shugoll (’13) conducted original research.
This program, which highlights both the beauty and the vulnerability of some of the world’s last undeveloped landscapes “really turned me towards sustainability,” explains Allie. However, she emphasizes that her transformation wasn’t merely about the setting. Being in Peru helped, she explains, but “it was really the professors.” In particular, Dr. Miles Silman, Director of the Center for Energy, Environment, Sustainability, inspired Allie’s budding environmental interests. She says “he is so charismatic, it is contagious. He really got me excited about the environment.”
Dr. Silman mentored Allie as she continued to explore sustainability through the lens of the life sciences. Under his direction, she and fellow students conducted a feasibility analysis for conch farming as a means of economic development and collected relevant research on coral reefs for one of his courses. Allie finished her studies a semester early, and upon graduating last fall, she spent what would have been the spring semester of her senior year assisting Dr. Silman with the early phases of a biochar research project. Biochar is an organic fertilizer that increases the productivity of the soil while sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. The material, essentially charcoal, forms through pyrolysis, a high-heat anaerobic conversion process. As Allie explains, biochar offers the dual advantage of being both “an organic alternative [to conventional fertilizer] and helping with the fight against global climate change.”
Allie has used what she learned from Dr. Silman in the classroom and the laboratory to explain relevant issues to her friends and to convince them to adopt sustainable behaviors. Though she modestly deems herself “the token tree-hugger of the group,” she has seen results from her consistent, positive persuasion. “I get texts all the time, like ‘I refilled my reusable water bottle at the water bottle-refilling station, it’s so cool!’ I tell them, yeah it is cool! Do it every day.”
Allie’s informal peer outreach was usually one-on-one, but last fall Allie used her position as the membership development chair for her sorority Delta Delta Delta to arrange for her entire chapter to attend a screening of 11th Hour hosted by Greeks Go Green. Throughout the film she got texts from her sorority sisters, asking if the films messages about ecosystem collapse were true. One friend sent a text demanding that Allie switch seats mid-film so she could explain the Coriolis Effect (a phenomenon caused by the Earth’s rotation). Allie complied, whispering quietly to her friend and scribbling diagrams of the Earth on the back of scratch paper.
Allie also gained two professional experiences relating to sustainability, serving as an intern for both Environment America’s Research and Policy Center in Washington, DC and Wake Forest’s Office of Energy Management. Allie’s internship at Environment America, through the Wake Washington program, gave her valuable experience in communicating research results and in understanding how non-profit organizations operate. As the intern for the Office of Energy Management, Allie and her co-intern Joey Matt (’13) planned Energy Bowl 2012.
Through her work with the Office of Energy Management, Allie met Dedee DeLongpre-Johnston, a second figure who impacted her aspirations for the future. DeLongpre-Johnston, the Director of the Office of Sustainability, pointed out to Allie that every environmental problem is also a social problem. Allie reports that this insight is leading her to pursue an explicitly humanitarian path. In addition to helping Allie make the connection between the social and environmental, she says DeLongpre-Johnston also taught her the importance of professionalism and organization. Allie says “Dedee taught me that it is one thing to be passionate and excited, but without a plan you really don’t get much done.”
Allie’s plan is to pursue further education, but her next step won’t be a linear extension of her undergraduate academic career. With a strong foundation in the science behind sustainability already, Allie is planning to incorporate other influences into her education by pursuing an MA in Management at Wake Forest this fall. She says “being fluent in other areas, such as business, will help me bring the environmental aspect into those fields.” Wherever she goes, Allie knows she will carry the benefits of a balanced and engaged Wake Forest experience. She reaped the benefits of mentoring relationships with faculty and staff who invested in her development and, in turn, she is focusing on paying those benefits forward by serving as a positive influence for her peers.
Written by Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
Greeks Go Green (GGG) is a student-led initiative located at the intersection of sustainability and Greek life. Upon its inception in the spring of 2011, the idea was met with considerable interest among members of the Greek community. Greeks Go Green interns with the Office of Sustainability, Erin Murphy (WFU ’13) and Becka Brolinson (WFU ‘15) are facilitating the initiative this year. Under their leadership, the program has grown to include delegates from the eight Panhellenic Conference sororities on campus, who represent their chapters at bi-monthly GGG meetings. GGG is working with Interfraternity Council members on a more informal level and looks forward to increased cooperation in the future. Additionally, GGG hopes to recruit representatives from the sororities and fraternities on campus that are affiliated with the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).
In the spirit of competition, organizations are incented to participate through a recognition-and-reward process. But, this isn’t the only motivator. According to Brolinson, “Countless members of the Greek community truly have a passion for sustainability.”
The purpose of Greeks Go Green is twofold. The first goal is educational. GGG members seek to raise awareness about principles of sustainability within the Greek life community. In service of this goal, GGG delegates deliver monthly presentations at their respective chapter meetings, from sustainability themes determined at the GGG representative meetings. Presentation topics have ranged from conscious consumerism to recycling and energy conservation awareness.
The second goal is hands-on. GGG members seek to incorporate sustainable practices into the functional operations of fraternities and sororities on campus. To these ends, members organized a “bin rollout” earlier this year to install recycling containers into all the sorority lounges on campus. Also, since service has always been an important aspect of Greek life, especially here at Wake Forest, GGG members volunteer for sustainability on campus. Groups and individuals have supported both the campus garden and the game-day recycling program.
With respect to both these goals Brolinson said that, “Because Greek organizations are such a huge part of student life at Wake Forest, GGG really has the potential to make a big impact.”
By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern