The Office of Service and Social Action facilitates opportunities for students to connect to the community, serve others, and explore social justice issues. Through these experiences, students develop into engaged, reflective, and knowledgeable change agents in the global community.
Volunteer Service Corps is a student run organization dedicated to furthering the University’s motto of Pro Humanitate by engaging students, faculty, and staff in meaningful volunteer service.
The Campus Kitchen is a volunteer led food recycling program. Participants fight food insecurity in Winston-Salem by working closely with partner agencies to redistribute food donations from The Fresh Food Company and other partners.
The Institute for Public Engagement (IPE) is an academic center focused on connecting Wake Forest’s academic mission to the needs of our community. IPE provides resources and support for students, faculty, staff, and members of the broader community seeking to realize the values implied by the University’s motto, Pro Humanitate.
Since its founding in 2011, Greeks Go Green (GGG) has worked to involve members of the Wake Forest Greek community in reaching our campus sustainability goals.
Representatives from participating chapters meet bi-weekly to talk about the many junctures between sustainability and Greek life. The effort is facilitated by sustainability interns Emily Pence (WFU ’15) and Stewart Rickert (WFU ’16).
To date, GGG has gained traction mainly with the sororities of the Panhellenic Council on campus. This year, however, the student interns are working to expand the GGG network to include both sororities and fraternities on campus. “Although in the past sororities have accounted for the vast majority of GGG involvement, that doesn’t mean that members in fraternities on campus aren’t passionate about the environment or principles of sustainability too,” said Pence.
There may be several explanations for comparatively lower fraternity involvement: initial enthusiasm for GGG was expressed most visibly by sorority members; past student GGG interns have all been sorority women. With the addition of Rickert to the leadership team this year, the network gained its first male GGG student intern and a highly visible advocate of sustainable interests within the Greek community. According to Rickert “we began working to make Greeks Go Green more appealing to fraternities and have seen a substantial increase in participation from fraternity members this year.” Pence added that, “the increased interest that we have witnessed from fraternity members over the past semester shows a lot of potential for effecting change on campus.”
The organization currently enjoys active participation from the following fraternity and sorority chapters on campus:
Kappa Beta Gamma Kappa Alpha Theta
Kappa Kappa Gamma Alpha Sigma
Chi Omega Delta Kappa Epsilon
Kappa Delta Pi Kappa Alpha
Alpha Delta Pi Theta Chi
Delta Delta Delta Kappa Sigma
This year, members of the Greek community can look forward to a screening of 180º South and a campus cleanup day, in addition to annual energy conservation, waste reduction, and carpool challenges.
If you’d like to get involved, contact Greeks Go Green interns Emily Pence ( ) or Stewart Rickert ( ) for more information.
By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern
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.
The Learn Experience Navigate Solve (LENS) @ Wake Forest program offered 38 rising high school juniors and seniors a three-week, hands-on opportunity to engage with peers around the 2013 theme “Sustainability – Operate locally and extend globally.” Students partnered with faculty and community leaders to examine issues, and then worked in teams to tackle real-world challenges. The inspiring discussions and college environment lent itself to fun activities and friendships along the way.
Read more about the 2013 LENS @ Wake Forest experience.
Snorkeling with sea turtles and hiking volcanoes may sound like amazing vacation highlights all on their own, but for David Song (‘15) these experiences were part of a 45-day Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA (WWOOF-USA) internship to learn about sustainable agriculture. It was just an added bonus that the practicum was located on the easternmost point on the big island of Hawaii, at Dragon’s Eye Learning Center.
As an EcoRep and incoming 2013 garden intern, Song looked for a unique summer opportunity that would allow him to experience sustainable living on a different level and “fully appreciate the value of food.” WWOOF-USA provided just that for him: a program that is part of the global WWOOF network, which connects volunteers with organic farmers in exchange for room and board and the opportunity to study ecologically sound farming practices.
The diversity of agriculture Song worked with on the rural, 32-acre farm near Pahoa, ranged from jaboticaba to jackfruit and everything in between including breadfruit, noni, and macadamia. Part of the information exchange consisted of learning about the aquaponic tilapia and greens system and about the Cornish hens and Dexter Cows that live on the hearty landscape.
When Song committed to the internship, he was focused on the agricultural component of the program and didn’t anticipate the culinary knowledge he would gain too. “I helped make cheese, yogurt, ice cream, scratch-flour cake, and a variety of meat dishes, starting with hunting, to butchering, and cooking the animal.” Another sustainable component he experienced was living “off the grid,” as the farm relies on solar power for both water access and electricity.
It is this full-systems approach to sustainability that he plans to bring back to campus this fall. Eager to apply his new skills, he envisions testing an aquaponics operation, increasing attention to soil composition at the campus garden, and “…on a more abstract level, promoting and explaining the value of sustainable living as a sustainability intern.”
Through the internship Song gained an understanding of what it meant to participate in a culture of sustainability outside of his previous realm and is an advocate of the program: “I would recommend it to anyone interested in agriculture, livestock, and sustainability or just to people who would like to experience something completely different, culturally.”
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability
Although summer is usually a time for relaxation, rejuvenation, and rest, for game day recycling intern Lauren Formica (‘16), summer is more about the three R’s of resource management: reduce, reuse, and recycle. To prepare for this fall’s Go Deacs. Go Green. football game day recycling campaign, Formica attended the Collegiate Sports Sustainability Summit this June in Atlanta, GA.
Held at Georgia Tech and hosting 110 attendees, the annual meeting is an opportunity to engage with national peers who orchestrate and support sustainability efforts in collegiate athletics. The meeting includes speaker sessions and an idea-sharing forum focused on athletic event recycling at colleges and universities. The summit doesn’t just highlight success stories; it also includes lessons learned from less-than-successful efforts.
Formica found these group interactions to be a highlight of the conference. “It made me realize there are some real advantages and disadvantages to being a smaller university. Many of the things that didn’t work at some of the larger institutions, may work well at Wake Forest because of our size,” she concluded.
Another goal of the forum is to showcase the benefits of sports-focused sustainability efforts. These include fan pride and loyalty, which Formica touts as a key reason she was interested in the game day recycling internship. “When I volunteered as a freshman, I enjoyed interacting with alumni who weren’t aware of the resources we now have on campus. They were excited about our programs.”
Formica speaks with enthusiasm about the ideas that the meeting provided, many of which she thinks could be effective at Wake Forest. “I want to continue the success we have and hope to expand upon it,” she says. These developments might include creating a strategic plan for game day recycling or garnering more program participation from both on and off-campus organizations.
Mindful of the work ahead, Formica is excited about the prospects for the fall football season. And honestly, what true Demon Deacon fan isn’t already?
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability
As of May 2013, students, faculty, and staff on the Reynolda campus have collected and donated a cumulative 8000 pounds of books to Better World Books, an online bookstore, social enterprise, and BCorporation. Founded in 2002, Better World Books has raised nearly $15 million for global literacy projects, including $7.3 million for literacy and education nonprofits and $7.2 million for libraries nationwide. Since its founding, the organization has re-used or recycled over 146 million pounds of books – that’s over 100 million books.
At Wake Forest, we began collecting books for donation to Better World Books in 2009. Our students donate an average of approximately 2000 pounds of books during move-out each year. Collection boxes are placed in the bookstore, making it convenient for students to donate the books that the bookstore isn’t able to buy back.
From time to time, faculty members also clean out their offices and clear off their bookshelves. Several have opted to donate their unwanted books to Better World Books. The process is simple: the Office of Sustainability delivers boxes to a departmental liaison; once the boxes are packed and taped, the office prints and delivers pre-paid UPS labels and the boxes are picked up for shipping. We cannot accept textbooks that are more than ten years old. Instead, those can be recycled locally.
Better World Books sells some of the donated books online and returns a portion of the proceeds to the programs it supports. For the first time this year, Better World Books invited Wake Forest to designate a local literacy partner to support. We chose the Augustine Project for Literacy’s Literate Girls program, a unique tutoring program that supports low-income girls with learning differences in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
For more information about Wake Forest’s relationship with Better World Books or how you can get boxes for an office clean-out, contact the Office of Sustainability at or at ext. 3328.
By Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability
Summer isn’t necessarily a vacation for Wake Forest students. From late May to early August, The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest, a student-run service organization, maintains full operations, serving 154 meals per week to underserved members of the Winston-Salem community. Unlike during the spring and fall, when Campus Kitchen is run by a six-member executive board and a 24-member leadership team, during the summer three interns are at the helm of one of Wake Forest’s flagship service organizations.
The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University is an affiliate of the Campus Kitchens Project, a national organization dedicated to fighting hunger and reducing waste through food recycling programs on college campuses. The Campus Kitchen model takes surplus prepared (but never served) meals from campus dining facilities and distributes these meals to partner agencies serving local communities. In addition to this basic model, the Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University partners with the Fresh Market, rescuing edible produce and baked goods and delivering the food in bulk to agencies serving populations with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University also partners with the Campus Garden, incorporating fresh, campus-grown produce into balanced meals.
Brittany Forniotis (’15), David Hale (’15), John Iskander (’16), and Monica Hedge (’14) make up the summer 2013 team of Campus Kitchen interns. Brittany, who is also spending her summer conducting original research on American slave narratives, splits five cooking shifts and five food delivery shifts with David, a premedical student who is also currently conducting summer research. John serves as the Fresh Market intern, running five food rescue shifts per week and researching the feasibility of food trucks as a means of increasing access to nutritious food. Monica will replace Brittany as one of the cooking and delivery interns for the second half of the summer.
According to the Campus Kitchens Project’s national guidelines, all meals must include a protein, a vegetable, a starch, and a dessert. Because there are fewer students on campus during the summer, the Fresh Food Company has less surplus food to donate to Campus Kitchen, so the interns must creatively combine resources to meet the organization’s standards. Brittany, who plans many of the summer menus, relies heavily on produce grown in the WFU Campus Garden. Most recently, she and summer volunteers prepared a huge salad with roasted beets, greens, and beet greens from the Campus Garden.
David, who served the salad at the SECU Family House, an agency providing housing for the families of patients who travel to Winston-Salem for medical treatment, reports “Everyone is always really happy when I say we grew these beets in our Campus Garden…they were so impressed that it was full circle, that we are using what we have and being sustainable.”
Partner agencies rely on Campus Kitchen to stay open during the summer, but David explains that the summer also provides an opportunity to reach new volunteers. He says “it is also important for us to educate volunteers, whether they are at a summer camp here, faculty and staff, or just anyone in the Winston-Salem area, to realize that [food insecurity] is an important issue in our region that many people don’t know about.” He also explains that bringing new volunteers into Campus Kitchen “is really about removing the stigma from certain areas [of Winston-Salem] or the stereotypes someone might associate with a particular type of person.”
In the context of cooking shifts, Brittany takes care to talk to volunteers about “where the food is going, what sort of people are receiving the food, and what sort of health problems they might have.” She explains the intentional choices she makes based on the population being served, such as sending reduced dessert portions and low-salt meals to senior housing where many residents suffer from diabetes and hypertension.
In the context of delivery shifts, David explains the goal of a particular partner agency and how food from Campus Kitchen fits into that goal. For instance, at Prodigals Community, a faith-based drug rehabilitation facility, David explains to volunteers how the Sunday night meal provided by Campus Kitchen allows Prodigals to allocate funds towards programs that facilitate residents’ recovery.
When asked what the Campus Kitchen needs from the Wake Forest community this summer, the interns offer a single emphatic answer: volunteers. David says “We need people who are willing to be flexible, to try something new…to go out of their comfort zone, to get out of the Wake Forest bubble and realize that these places exist in Winston-Salem.”
To volunteer for Campus Kitchen, contact Brittany Forniotis at .
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
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
As she began to examine questions about life-cycle analysis and resource efficiency, she says “I realized…to get a sense of what’s going on, you can use fairly simple math. I decided that would be a great place to bring in students, to give them the confidence to apply straightforward mathematics to analyze complex situations.”
This urge to combine a personal passion for sustainability with her career resulted in Dr. Mason’s first-year seminar, Counting on Sustainable Energy: Does it Add Up?, which she is currently teaching for a second time this spring. The simple addition, multiplication, and conversion involved in the course are far from her traditional research field of combinatorics, but Dr. Mason’s course demonstrates how “pretty basic mathematics can be used to do some powerful things.”
Counting on Sustainable Energy fosters a greater understanding of alternative energy and arms students with the ability to critically evaluate assertions about the relative environmental impacts of various fuel sources. “One of the biggest things that I want my students to get out of this class is getting comfortable taking claims and evaluating them for themselves. If someone says something is better for the environment, I want my students to be able to go home and verify that claim.”
Over the course of a semester, Dr. Mason’s students will investigate a wide array of alternative energy sources, including solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal. They will examine how much energy these sources could produce on Wake Forest’s campus and how much energy a Wake Forest student consumes each day. By the end of the semester, students will find an answer to the course’s central question: Could we, with our current consumption patterns, rely on sustainable energy at Wake Forest University? If the answer is yes, students will explain exactly how a switch to sustainable energy might be feasible in their final paper. If the answer is no, students will lay out a plan to reduce energy consumption.
Much of Dr. Mason’s FYS is hands-on. Her students began the course by measuring their own electricity consumption with a Kill-a-watt, an exercise designed to give them an idea of scale when they use the watt or kilowatt hour (kWh) as a unit of measure. Recently, her students completed the construction of miniature wind turbines, an exercise designed to familiarize them with the mechanics of wind energy. As part of their final project, students will develop and staff interactive educational booths at Food for Thought, this spring’s Earth Day celebration for the Wake Forest community.
In addition to readings and class projects, Counting on Sustainable Energy includes a line-up of guest speakers, including a representative from Volt energy (the company responsible for the solar panels on The Barn) and an environmental engineer working in wind turbine installation. Students will visit a land fill and a geothermal installation. So far, Dr. Mason’s students have matched an impressive syllabus with impressive work product. Dr. Mason reports her students are highly motivated by the subject matter, explaining “because they are passionate about [sustainability], they are willing to do the leg work.”
The latest version of Counting on Sustainability is a result of Dr. Mason’s participation in the Magnolias Project, a WFU faculty workshop on integrating sustainability across the curriculum. An assigned reading on the moral ecology of everyday life (from Higher Education for Sustainability) inspired Dr. Mason to take the focus of Counting on Sustainability from a national level down to a campus level; her students have benefited from an opportunity to relate to their course material directly.
Not only did the Magnolias Project allow Dr. Mason to refine her syllabus, she also made valuable connections to faculty from different disciplines. This network continues to be source of ideas and feedback, which Dr. Mason finds particularly valuable as a mathematician teaching a writing-intensive course. This spring, she will co-lead the second iteration of the Magnolias Project with Dr. Lucas Johnston, a faculty member in the Religion department and another member of the Magnolias Project’s first cohort.
Unsurprisingly, Dr. Mason also integrates sustainability into her life beyond the classroom. When moving to Winston-Salem, she intentionally purchased a home within walking distance from campus and often uses a bicycle for transportation. An avid hiker, she partially attributes her interest in sustainability to a love of the outdoors, saying “I love hiking and I really value being able to explore untouched places. I worry our society is moving towards less and less of these beautiful, spectacular places.”
A passion for sustainability runs in Dr. Mason’s family. The environmental engineer who spoke to her class about wind turbines was her father and her brother is an urban planner, currently tackling solutions for mass transit in developing countries. Her brother also helped her tackle a compost bin project in her backyard and Dr. Mason plans to put her compost to good use this year. She muses “I love being able to go out and make a salad with ingredients straight from my backyard, there is something really satisfying about that.”
Dr. Mason’s academic innovation is possible through the generous support of the university, for which she is continually grateful. Her students are equivalently grateful for Dr. Mason, especially those like sophomore Caroline Waco, whose experience in Dr. Mason’s FYS last year inspired her to do independent research on the factors impacting the payback period for solar photovoltaic panels. Dr. Mason explains that her promotion of sustainability at Wake Forest naturally flows from her interest in the topic. She says “I’ve always believed in following my passions, and hopefully that leads to a strong contribution to my community.”
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
Peer education, long a well-loved tool in the field of public health, has inspired curiosity from sustainability advocates in recent years. As research in psychology and marketing continues to affirm that environmental awareness alone does not result in environmentally preferable behavior changes, those seeking to foster sustainable behaviors hope to tap into the power of peer influence to affect necessary change.
On campuses across the United States, groups of peer educators, many of whom operate under the title EcoReps, are pioneering peer education programs in collegiate settings. Wake Forest University’s own re-imagined EcoReps program, launched in the fall of 2012, is off to a promising start.
Last fall the EcoReps kicked off the semester by giving a presentation at the Monday Talks series hosted by the Health and Exercise Science Department. Their presentation, titled “A Day in the Life of a Sustainable Student” highlighted the surprising impacts and perks of adopting simple behaviors, like using a reusable water bottle or shopping at thrift stores.
The EcoReps also played an integral role in Energy Bowl 2012, where they performed personalized room assessments and staffed kiosks promoting the competition. In addition, the EcoReps performed educational outreach at events hosted by the Office of Sustainability, Outdoor Pursuits, Residence Life and Housing, and Campus Dining.
Through their participation in the program, EcoReps earn points towards a Peer Educator for Sustainability certification. The Office of Sustainability designed this 100-point certification to ensure that EcoReps develop both sustainability literacy and outreach skills, which are crucial for their success as peer-to-peer educators and future sustainability professionals. Lauren Formica, a first year student, became the first EcoRep to complete the Peer Educator for Sustainability certification at the end of last semester.
This spring the EcoReps gave an expanded version of their Day in the Life presentation as part of the Monday Talks series on January 28th. They will also present at the Sustainability Theme House’s weekly spaghetti supper on February 21st.
Delegates from the Wake Forest EcoReps program will head to a regional conference for EcoReps in the Southeast in February. In March, the EcoReps will support the Campus Conservation Nationals competition sponsored by the Office of Energy Management.
For more information on how to become an EcoRep, email . Enrollment in the program closes on February 14th.
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability