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WAB Trips Offer Re-Connections

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WAB Trips Offer Re-Connections

April 2nd, 2014

Contributed by Alyshah Aziz (’16)

As a sophomore minoring in Environmental Studies, caring for the environment is something that has always been near and dear to my heart. Participating in the Knoxville, TN Wake Alternative Break trip served as an opportunity to reground my beliefs. Often, in our fast-moving technology-centered world, I have found myself becoming isolated from nature and its beauty.

Laura Coats and De’Noia Woods, recent WFU alumnae and current AmeriCorps members, hosted us in Knoxville and organized the activities for our trip. The heart of the work was service in areas of environmental conservation and waste reduction. Some service activities throughout the week consisted of packing Mobile Meals, laying the foundation for a disc golf course, carrying out a clean-up at Ijams Nature Sanctuary, working in an urban garden, and clearing more privet than I have seen in my entire life!

Our venture to the Queen City of the Mountains was quite unique compared to any other service trip I have experienced. Each WAB trip has a specific focus – some are more people-centered than others. For me, the WAB trip inspired the process of questioning, fostered independence, and allowed me to reconnect with nature. As a society, we benefit from many ecosystem services. Our unique adventures each day allowed me to see the raw beauty nature humbly provides for us. The primary goal was to help heal the physical environment. In turn, the hope is that the healthy environment is able to serve both humans and other living beings.

The work allowed time to think and to reconnect with our gracious hosts, Laura and De’Noia. It was interesting to hear their experiences during freshman and sophomore years at Wake, and find the similarities with my own experiences. Since Laura and I were both former EcoReps, she shared with me that she originally joined AmeriCorps with the hope that it would be similar to the EcoReps program we have on campus. Although she found her position in AmeriCorps working with Keep Knoxville Beautiful to be different from what she expected, it is still a very enriching experience.

As a current sophomore I have begun starting to ponder: Where do I see myself after I receive my four-year degree from Wake Forest? What people would I like to be surrounded by? While working in Pond Gap Elementary’s Garden, something Laura said really hit home. She shared that she has never been a part of a group of such like-minded individuals before. Transitioning from an EcoRep to an intern with the Office of Sustainability, I strongly feel that I have been able to better find my niche on campus through my encounters with students, faculty, and staff. I have met many interesting and refreshing students in my Environmental Studies minor courses and have been introduced to new activities, events, and perspectives to which I otherwise might not have been exposed.

I came to the realization that although many of my peers might not consider themselves environmentalists, we are the generation that consciously bikes more, drives less, promotes carpooling, and actively searches for local foods. My goals and values have solidified through my WAB experience; although I came into the trip with a passion for the environment, being able to interact with the environment in different ways each day was a refreshing experience. The beauty, strength, and wisdom of Nature never cease to amaze me, and I will always treasure these opportunities.

Fall 2014 Internships in Sustainability

April 2nd, 2014

Aramark_Meeting_1_30_14Are you a student interested in making a difference? The following paid internships are available to Wake Forest students for fall 2014. In order to apply, please fill out this form. Applications are due by Thursday, April 17th at 5pm.  Unless otherwise noted, these internships are with the Office of Sustainability.

Campus Garden 
The intern will collaborate with faculty, staff, and student volunteers to manage the campus garden at 1141 Polo Road. 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.

Communications and Outreach 
The intern will work with staff in the Office of Sustainability to develop content for the campus sustainability website including, but not limited to, news stories, calendar contributions, and social media posts. The intern will contribute to the production of a monthly electronic newsletter, based on the news stories written for the website.  Strong writing skills required, sustainability literacy preferred.  Applications from both graduate and undergraduate students will be accepted.  In addition to the application form, please submit two news-writing samples.

Gameday Recycling 
During the fall semester, the intern will recruit for and manage a volunteer game day recycling program for the home football season. Volunteers recruited for the effort will interface with fans, work with the athletic department to manage demand for recycling collection, prepare communication materials for the program, and promote the program to tailgating fans. This intern must be available to work on the program during the summer months, but does not have to be physically located on campus until the fall.

Greeks Go Green 
The intern will 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 registered Greek organization on campus. Excellent leadership and organizational skills are required. Familiarity with and knowledge of Prezi is a plus.

Photography 
The intern will attend and photograph Office of Sustainability events and maintain an active photostream on the office Flickr account. Events will range from high profile speakers to weekly community engagement events. Attendance at weekly intern meetings is required. The intern must have his or her own photography equipment and some photo editing skills. Familiarity with Flickr is a plus.

ARAMARK – Sustainability in Dining 
View the responsibilities of the Sustainability in Dining Intern.

 

Case Study: Wake the Library

April 1st, 2014

library toolkitIf you are a Wake Forest University student or a member of the alumni body, you may be familiar with the “Wake the Library” program hosted at midnight in ZSR throughout the week of finals every semester. You may be less familiar, however, with the work of ZSR Green Team captains Mary Scanlon and Peter Romanov, as well as Mary Beth Locke and other ZSR Sustainability Committee members, to make the event sustainable.

Their collective efforts are featured in the newly published resource “Focus on Educating for Sustainability: Toolkit for Academic Libraries.” In the chapter Teaching by Doing, the leaders discuss their commitment to decrease the amount of waste produced at the event. Check it out for yourself.

E-Waste Chain of Custody

March 31st, 2014
Q.  I’ve recently learned that e-waste can still harm the environment, even if it is recycled. How do we make sure that doesn’t happen to the e-waste we collect here at Wake Forest?
A. Good question. It is true that some e-waste recyclers take short-cuts and that mishandled e-waste can have a devastating impact on the health and well-being of our planet. That is why we only choose e-waste recyclers who are transparent enough for us to verify their entire chain of custody, starting from when they take possession of our e-waste.

Piedmont E-Waste handles most of the personal e-waste generated by our campus community (old cell phones, CDs, key boards, cords, chargers, old TV monitors, microwaves, etc.). Goodwill Industries recycles our ink and toner cartridges.  All technology belonging to Information Systems (such as Think Pads computers) should go back to IS before being recycled. Computers returned to IS are reassigned to another member of the Wake Forest community, sold to the local school system, or recycled through a separate contract.

The Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling only enters into contracts with e-waste recyclers after thoroughly vetting their chain of custody. In addition, the OWRR considers the impact of the contract on the local economy and whether a company illustrates corporate social responsibility. Piedmont E-waste is a local business and Goodwill Industries is a nonprofit offering multiple services to the community, including English language classes and vocational training.

To find out how and where to dispose of e-waste, check out a past FAQ on e-waste disposal.

Net Impact Club in the Black & Gold

March 31st, 2014

net impactContributed by Gray Robinson (MBA 14′)

The WFU School of Business Net Impact Club entered last fall aiming to increase interest and participation in the club via a three-pronged strategy: building teams to compete in competitions, creating a Net Impact business incubator and networking with students and professionals with like minds.

As May approaches, those objectives have been well met and participation is up with 25 active members, all School of Business graduate students.

The club assembled teams to compete in three competitions (the Leeds Net Impact Case Competition, the Sustainable Venture Capital Investment Competition and the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investment Challenge) and also consulted all-natural energy bar startup, Threshold Provisions of Asheville, NC, on its business plan and strategy.

The club has recruited Dan McCabe, CEO of Causetown, to be a BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism speaker this spring.  Causetown is an Atlanta-based enterprise that works with businesses large and small to create positive social impact in their communities.  Driving social impact throughout his career, McCabe is a WFU MBA alumnus (’06) and will speak in Broyhill Auditorium at 4:00 PM on April 24th.

The Wake Forest chapter will join the Net Impact clubs from Duke and UNC as well as students from Duke’s Master’s in Environmental Management in Durham this spring to visit local businesses focused on positive impact.

Moving forward, the club aims to continue growing membership by offering further opportunities to get hands-on experience marrying the pursuits of sustainability and capitalism.

The John B. McKinnon Professor of Economics and Finance at the School of Business, Rick Harris, is the club’s faculty sponsor.  The club is run by co-Presidents, Gray Robinson and Ryan Lesley; Senior Officer, Alex Tsuji; and 1st-year Officer, Laura Bondel.

For more information, please contact Gray Robinson at

Magnolias Project Application

March 25th, 2014

The Office of Sustainability and the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (CEES) invite you to enhance your teaching and engagement with sustainability issues by participating in the Magnolias Project May 13-14, 2014 on the Wake Forest campus.  No prior experience with sustainability-related issues in the classroom or in research is necessary, and faculty at all ranks and career stages are welcome!

This innovative approach to curricular change, modeled on the nationally renowned Piedmont Project (Emory University) and Ponderosa Project (Northern Arizona University), provides faculty with an intellectually stimulating and collegial experience to pool their expertise.  Faculty who would like to develop a new course module or an entirely new course that engages issues of sustainability and the environment are encouraged to apply.

Detailed information is available on the project’s webpage. Applications are due April 11, 2014. Participants will earn a $500 stipend.

 

Toxic Drift Discussion with Pete Daniel

March 7th, 2014

toxic driftAs part of the History Department’s Engagement Series, we had the pleasure of meeting Wake Forest alumnus and distinguished historian, Pete Daniel. Dr. Daniel’s work covers a panoply of important cultural and historic issues from farming to civil rights and environmental degradation.

During our discussion of his book Toxic Drift: Pesticides and Health in the Post-World War II South., Dr. Daniel posited that our history with pesticides stems from the idea that nature is not good enough. This idea sparked an interesting interdisciplinary discussion that called up concepts from economics, literature, history, ethics, and civil rights. The breadth of the discussion should not have been surprising given that Daniel is a strong proponent of the liberal arts tradition and sees great value in thinking about issues across disciplinary divides.

drink wine/ save the planet/ feed the hungry

March 4th, 2014

Contributed by Elizabeth Barron                 WFU ’93, Lecturer in French

In the interest of sounding a little less unbearably flippant, I did change the official title of this February 2014 WFU conference to “Viticulture and the Environment,” but in my head and heart it remained “drink wine/ save the planet/ feed the hungry.”

The drinking wine part was expertly handled by Olivier Magny, a Parisian wine specialist who started his own wine tasting school after graduating from a top business school. He led a group of faculty, students, and one alumnus in a wine-tasting, following a talk by Professor Wayne Silver on “The Neurobiology of Wine Tasting (and Smelling).” So we drank a little wine. That was the easy part.

Magny’s work seems to have started from a sense of pleasure, but his own study of wine also led him to an awareness of the conditions in which grapes are grown and more specifically, soil health. He writes in his book Into Wine, “Studying how vineyards were farmed has helped me grasp that the importance of the soil actually goes far beyond wine, and that the implications of mistreating it are also much more far-reaching than we think.” Farming practices have the biggest impact on soil health, and there is much that deserves to be questioned in our current agribusiness practices. These issues are addressed in a rather international light in the documentary “Dirt,” which a small group of us watched together and then discussed. The politics behind agribusiness practices are daunting at best. In the spirit of a hummingbird analogy put forth by this film, both WFU EH&S Technician Justin Sizemore and Dr. Anne Marie Zimeri had ideas for addressing our individual carbon footprints.

I like to think of the following ideas as “Dr. Zimeri’s Eco Challenge.” Anne Marie Zimeri is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Health Science Department at the University of Georgia. One of the courses that she teaches is a first year seminar in which she gives her students an assignment to collect and record data related to behavior changes they make to lower their environmental impact. She has the students select a pledge topic according to their own interest, related to one of the following areas: 1) Vegetarian / vegan 2) Transportation 3) Single use disposables 4) Composting / packaging 5) Water conservation 6) Electricity 7) Local / organic. For example, if students were electing to go vegetarian or vegan for a week, they would include before and after data relating both to how much meat they consume, and to the food miles, water use (in the production of meat vs. vegetables and fruits) and carbon footprint. More detailed information on this will be part of an upcoming publication by Dr. Zimeri. Like the hummingbird, we can only do what we can do in decreasing our impact, one rain barrel, solar water heater, backyard garden and bike ride at a time. So we learned a little about saving the planet.

It was the welcome presence of Shelley Sizemore, Assistant Director of Campus Life and Service that allowed me to add feeding the hungry to the list. Technically, we only fed our hungry selves that night, but I learned more about some ongoing campus and local efforts, including Campus Kitchen that distributes prepared but unserved food through local agencies including the Shalom Project, an outreach network started by Green Street United Methodist church that provides food, clothing, medical services and networking to the community. Wake Forest also has its own garden that both provides Campus Kitchen with fresh produce and also helps Wake Forest students (and I would add, faculty) better understand and influence the social, environmental, biological and political consequences of food production and consumption. So we could be part of feeding the hungry, if we’re not already.

I like the three-fold nature of my not-really-the-title-except-yes-it-is, because it reminds me of just how interconnected everything is. Even starting from the position of a possible urban sophisticate enjoying his or her own glass of wine can logically lead to soil health, then to the importance of environmental stewardship, then to food production and distribution. So, next time you swirl and sip, think about where the contents of your glass were originally grown.

Bottoms up.

For more musings on the theme “Drink Wine/Save the Planet,” visit Dr. Barron’s blog.

Sustaining Life, Ideas & Communities

February 25th, 2014

ApplesContributed by Jenny Miller (’14)

Fresh students are being sown this spring as the new course, Women, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability roots itself into the curriculum of Wake Forest University. Under the leadership of Professor Lynn Book, Dr. Angela Kocze and Dr. Wanda Balzano, students narrow their focus on female entrepreneurs as today’s largest and fastest growing minority group in agriculture. Students work with community partners of the Innovators in Residence program which highlights local entrepreneurs of the Piedmont region.

The course’s primary Innovators in Residence collaborators, Margret Norfleet-Neff and Salem Neff, cultivated their farm, Beta Verde, where they grow pesticide-free fruits and vegetables that are used for garden-to-table suppers at their home in Winston-Salem and are sold as delicious jams, pickles, and syrups. These “home sown” heroines also founded the Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market which accepts EBT and WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, providing a greater opportunity for people to have access to good food. These mother/daughter ventures provide insights that allow Margaret and Salem to serve as guides in matters of food traditions and food justice, regional economies, cultural diversity and environmental stewardship. It is through such symbiosis that the interdisciplinary course of Women, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability has been able to help students better understand how women are impacting local and global communities while simultaneously forming a greater connection with food and place by learning beyond the gates of our own Forest.

The course will be hosting a collection of events throughout the spring semester that bring knowledge from the surrounding communities back to campus. The convivial environment of the course’s first event, SEED, was held last Wednesday on February 19th, and encouraged a certain quality of shared experience around food. This helped break the “busy” schedules of the Wake Forest community by providing an hour and a half of close conversation, local food tastings, live music, and shared stories. Margaret and Salem spoke of their love for people and place nurtured and sustained through their good food ventures. Together, they stressed the importance of sustaining a sense of place not only by protecting an area for the future, but also for the reclamation of an environment. The women addressed how the heritage of the Piedmont region was once previously occupied by apples which held a central place in the ecology of the land. The message of SEED focused on the importance of the restoration of these indigenous seeds if our community wishes to sustain the Piedmont land forward and to live in concert with an optimal environment that provides access to good foods. Working to make something that is close to disappearing abundant again is not an easy task.  The notion that all regional schools, colleges, and universities could choose their own variety of apple trees to be planted on their respective grounds was offered by Margaret and Salem as one example of attaining this goal.

Through the creative collaboration of Women, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability and the Innovators in Residence program, a “biodiversity for the future” is encouraged that requires awareness and vigilance. This future envisions a change in dismissive and unthinking action towards a shared inspiration for students, administrators, and members of the Piedmont community to cultivate and protect the resources under our feet by reclaiming, stewarding, and taking pleasure in good food as a fundamental right for all people.

Diving into Conservation

February 24th, 2014

scubaContributed by Pam Denish (’15)

Last fall, I studied abroad in Bonaire, a small island in the southern Caribbean. The program focused on coral reef ecology and tropical marine conservation. I chose the program because I have always been passionate about marine biology and conservation, and I knew it would give me first-hand research experience in a beautiful location. Throughout the program I spent a lot of time SCUBA diving and learning about different marine ecosystems, the species that inhabit them, how human activities are threatening the oceans, and what can be done to protect them.

Among the most shocking of my experiences were beach clean-ups, during which we collected trash and disposed of it in the island’s sole waste management site. Many of the locations we cleaned were not popular recreational areas, but rocky shores and dense marshes. These places were overwhelmed by trash that had washed ashore from the ocean. I couldn’t help but think that if this much trash had been washed ashore, there must be much more still circulating in the oceans.

These trash collections caused me and my classmates to consider how we could encourage the public to reduce the amount of trash they throw away and teach them why it is important. We hosted a children’s environmental fair with booths showing the life in the oceans as well as suggestions for easy ways to reduce our impact, including recycling and creative ways to repurpose trash. We had an arts and crafts station where we made wallets and Christmas ornaments out of old boxes, and snow globes out of jars; the children were amazed by how many fun things could be made from trash. We also distributed flyers about how to reduce trash output by using reusable shopping bags and purchasing groceries with minimum packaging.

Another rewarding experience was the work I did once a week with children from a local after-school program designed to keep kids off the street. Through snorkeling activities and games, we taught them the basics about coral reefs and how humans affect the reefs. It was fun to see the kids’ curiosity and enthusiasm each week. I truly believe that if we can inspire children to care about sustainability and protecting the environment, then we have the ability to preserve and restore many beautiful and important ecosystems.

Going abroad enriched my life in many ways, and continues to do so. Not only did I get to experience and learn about my passion – the ocean – but I also learned that we have the power and responsibility to protect our environment. We are inextricably linked to the earth, and it is to our own benefit that we learn to live sustainably and protect it. This experience abroad imbued me with the spirit of helping the community to protect the environment and it definitely channeled the familiar and beloved spirit of Pro Humanitate.