Wake Forest University

Sustainability Ambassadors - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability Ambassadors

Sustainability Ambassadors

Sustainability Ambassadors (formerly EcoReps) are student peer educators for sustainability.  The mission of the Sustainability Ambassadors program is to support the development of sustainable behaviors among the student population at Wake Forest University.

Through outreach activities, campaign development, event planning, sustainability assessments, and presentations, Sustainability Ambassadors are able to reach Wake students in a variety of settings. They help fulfill the Office’s mission of empowering others to assume leadership roles in sustainability.

Training occurs in the form of a two-credit undergraduate course: ENV 301A – Leadership for Sustainability.  If you are unable to register for the course but still want to get involved, please reach out.

If you have any questions or if you would like to invite a Sustainability Ambassador to give a presentation or conduct outreach,please contact us at sustainability@wfu.edu.


Sustainability Ambassadors

Taylor Barrett, ’17
Interests: Sustainable energy, food

Cristin Berardo, ’18
Interests: Renewable energy

Erika Brandon, ’18
Interests: Water conservation

Sara Cerere, ’19

Stephanie Cobb, ’17
Interests: Climate change and food production

Forrest Dodds, ’18
Interests: Energy conservation, water management

Matthew Healy, ’17

Zoe Helmers, ’19
Interests: Sustainable agriculture/food production, water conservation, pollution prevention

Mackenzie Howe, ’19
Interests: Green Buildings, Land Use/Habitat Preservation

Sebastian Irby, ’18

Bill Leftwich, ’19
Interests: Energy and water conservation

Emily Claire Mackey, ’18
Interests: Sustainable cities, food production

Maggie Powell, ’19
Interests: Biodiversity and ecological systems

Anna Quinn, ’19
Interests: Renewable energy, environmental justice/human rights

Brennan Radulski, ’17
Interests: Ecology and biodiversity

Talia Roberts, ’19
Interests: Waste and climate change

Cameron Steitz, ’18
Interests: Environmental justice, sustainable food production/food security

Wesley Skidmore, ’19
Interests: Renewable energy and climate change

Cameron Waters, ’19
Interests: Sustainable urban development, energy conservation

Mallory Wood, ’17
Interests: Sustainable agriculture, local food systems

Congratulations Class of 2016 Interns

May 27th, 2016
Alyshah was recognized for her Sustainability Leadership at the annual Champions of Change awards ceremony.

Alyshah was recognized for her Sustainability Leadership at the annual Champions of Change awards ceremony.

Alyshah Aziz graduated Cum Laude with a major in Politics & International Affairs and a minor in Middle East & South Asian Studies. Alyshah served as an Alternative Transportation Intern for six consecutive semesters. She is working as a Business Analyst within Deloitte’s Federal Human Capital Consulting division.

Alyshah’s reflection on the internship: My internship with the Office of Sustainability helped me strengthen my skills in research, writing, marketing, and creativity. My time in the office and my friendships with Dedee, Hannah, Annabel, initiative co-sponsors, and interns are invaluable to me. My biggest takeaway that I will always carry with me is to think critically of what I read, hear, and see. The weekly intern meetings taught me to listen to what I hear and/or see and then investigate. My internship has lead me to view the world and all the activities of humankind from a holistic perspective. 

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


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.

Social Impact Career Workshop Series

December 9th, 2013
EcoReps participate in Choose to Reuse @ Hit the Bricks

EcoReps participate in Think Green Thursday

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

Garden Intern WWOOFs it in Hawaii

August 5th, 2013
David Song ('15) at Dragon's Eye Learning Center.

David Song (’15) at Dragon’s Eye Learning Center.

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

Go Deacs. Go Green(er).

July 19th, 2013

Lauren Formica ('16)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

Class of 2013 To Sign Sustainability Pledge

May 7th, 2013

photo 2 (10)Many members of the class of 2013 will leave Reynolda campus behind this spring, but all Demon Deacons carry Wake Forest values with them wherever they go.  These values include our campus-wide commitment to sustainability. For a third year, the Office of Sustainability is asking graduating seniors to solidify their commitment to environmental stewardship and social justice by signing the Green Graduation Pledge.

In asking seniors to make this voluntary commitment, Wake Forest joins over 100 other colleges and universities in a nationwide campaign, led by the Green Graduation Pledge Alliance, to build a global community of responsible graduates.  Laura Coats (’13), a former EcoRep, sees the pledge as an opportunity to to reflect on how she will apply the values she developed over the past four years in the next phase of her life.  Coats, who will begin her career in an Americorps position at Keep Knoxville Beautiful, says “It’s important to be conscious of the impact we have on our communities.  I’m excited to continue to build on the environmental and social consciousnesses I cultivated at Wake Forest as I enter the workforce.”

Seniors will have the opportunity to sign the pledge when they pick up their tickets for graduation from the University Bookstore on Friday May 18th and Saturday May 19th from 9-4pm.  The first 250 signatories will receive a coffee mug printed with the Green Graduation pledge, which reads: I pledge to take into account the social and environmental consequences of any future endeavors and to work to improve the sustainability of the communities in which I work, live and play.

Though we say goodbye for now, we know the class of 2013 will always fly the colors black and gold and live the color green.

By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability

Competition Motivates Students to Conserve

March 13th, 2013

CCNGet ready, get set, reduce!  This spring, students can join their peers around the nation in cutting down their electricity and water consumption during the Campus Conservation Nationals. With about 200 participating campuses, students compete against one another on each campus, and between campuses nationally.

Starting on March 18, at the kick-off event, students can sign up to participate.  During the first week of the three-week competition, students can sign up for efficiency assessments of their rooms. A volunteer EcoRep will come to each student’s room during the second week to survey their daily conservation habits and to teach them how to become even more efficient.  Students who sign up for an assessment at the kick-off event will get a free t-shirt.

In a battle of the residence halls, students at Wake Forest University will compete to reduce rates of consumption. The winners will be treated to a frozen yogurt party catered by Brynn’s and will have the satisfaction of doing their part to cut down energy consumption.  To stay updated on each building’s progress, individuals can visit buildingdashboard.net/wakeforest. The site allows students to learn more about different conservation habits and to commit to new, more efficient changes. Throughout the competition, residents will also learn more about the sources of our campus electricity and the effects our choices have on climate change.

The Campus Conservation Nationals brings to light the importance of conservation, and incentivizes the development of good habits. The national competition started three years ago.  Ravish Paul, the Energy Manager in the Office of Energy Management in Facilities and Campus Services, facilitates Wake Forest’s participation in the competition in partnership with Residence Life and Housing.  Junior Claire Nagy-Kato, an intern for the office of Energy Management, will lead this year’s efforts.

Claire encourages everyone to attend the kick-off event, where everyone can look forward to engaging in fun activities and enjoying free food. Participants will be able to trade in their incandescent light bulbs for energy efficient replacements and learn more about conservation opportunities.  She looks forward to seeing the effects of the competition on our campus because she sees it as a “good way to get students interested in something that is an important and pertinent issue.”

If you are interested in taking the next step in reducing consumption, contact Claire Nagy-Kato at nagycb0@wfu.edu and sign up to be a hall captain for Campus Conservation Nationals. The competition will end on April 7, 2013.

 By Kiana Courtney,   Office of Sustainability Communications and Outreach Intern

EcoReps lead change at Wake Forest

January 30th, 2013

ecorepsFNLSOLIDPeer 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 langah@wfu.edu.   Enrollment in the program closes on February 14th.

 By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability

Halfway to victory? It’s up to You.

November 9th, 2012

On November 1st we kicked off a residence hall energy conservation competition against Notre Dame — Energy Bowl 2012: Lights Off, Lights Out.  We’re now at the halfway point of the competition, which wraps up on November 14th.

The first half of the competition has been a successful exercise in cross-campus collaboration.  Facilities and Campus Services is the sponsor of Energy Bowl 2012 and Office of Energy Management interns, Allie Gruber and Joey Matt, are planning and managing the competition.  Hall Captains recruited by Residence Life and Housing are serving as Energy Bowl ambassadors in their residence halls, reaching out to their fellow students through posters, e-mails, and word of mouth.  Hall Captains are also assisting the EcoReps, our campus peer-to-peer educators for sustainability, in conducting personalized energy conservation room assessments.

Although we have reason to celebrate this early success in getting everyone involved, one hard cold fact still remains: Wake Forest University is currently losing to Notre Dame.  Luckily, we are not far behind, and our residential students still have plenty of time to reach the energy conservation goal of 6%.  Here are 4 quick tips for students living on-campus to reduce their energy consumption in the residence halls:

  1. If you’re able, take the stairs. Give the elevator a rest until November 14th – and beyond.  You’ll save energy and even get a little work out.
  2. Turn it off (all of it).  When you leave the room, turn off your lights, turn off your power strip (or unplug your electronics), and turn off your heat if you have in-room controls.
  3. Put on a sweater.  If your room feels chilly, try to add more layers before cranking up the temperature, especially in Palmer and Piccolo, where the heating source is electric.
  4. Tell your friends. Update your friends on the status of the competition, and ask them to consciously conserve over the next week.  You can refer them to the Building Dashboard, where they can keep up with the results of the competition in real time.

Look out for a traveling kiosk promoting the competition in residence halls around campus this weekend and early next week.

Lights Off, Lights Out. Let’s Beat the Irish.