We’re not done with Earth Month yet…stay tuned for a daily release of our 2020 Champions of Change campus sustainability award winners. Winners will be revealed on social media (@sustainableWFU on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook), on this Virtual Earth Month page, and through e-newsletters. Make sure to check in daily to celebrate these exceptional change-makers with us.

Give It Up For.... Your 2020 Champions of Change

Jason Belo

Jason has made sustainability a focus of daily life in the HR House. As a dedicated Green Team captain, he has reduced Human Resources’ environmental footprint through energy conservation practices, the promotion of alternative transportation, finding creative new uses for old supplies, waste minimization, and eco-conscious purchasing, just to name a few.

According to a colleague, “Perhaps the most important thing Jason has accomplished is to model and instill a greater sense of why sustainability matters. He not only is tangibly helping his team by doing, but more importantly he is bringing us along on the journey.”

Barbara Lardin

Barbara is a pro at keeping stuff out of the landfill. Over the years, she and her Asset Management team – Brian Stutts, Amber Byerly, and Danette Johnson – have worked tirelessly to expand e-cycling on campus. Barbara was instrumental in establishing the laptop takeback program that allows for old, unused equipment at Wake Forest to be sold or recycled.

These and other material reuse efforts led to Wake Forest being reimbursed over $185,000 in FY19 alone. So far this year, Barbara and her Asset Management team have helped keep nearly 9,000 pounds of material out of the landfill, and counting.

The Wake Forest Chapter of the International Justice Mission (IJM) 

When you change purchasing norms on campus, break down social barriers, help fight against “fast fashion,” and raise money to help free people around the world from modern-day slavery — all in a single event — you’ve certainly earned yourself a Champions of Change award. Through their “Threads” pop-up thrift shop on campus last fall, this team of student leaders was able to raise $4,000 from the resale of clothes donated by students, all while showing that buying second-hand can be fun, impactful, and sustainable. 

Doug Ecklund, Building Systems Manager

Tim Mitchell, Building Systems Specialist

Doug Ecklund and Tim Mitchell 

You may not know them by name, but this dynamic duo is tenacious when it comes to reducing Wake Forest’s energy demands. The Building Systems team has taken building scheduling–through which HVAC and lighting systems are turned off or scaled back during times of non-use–to the next level. The pair works closely with faculty and staff and scours event listings on campus in order to find every last opportunity for energy savings, all while ensuring that occupant comfort is maintained.

This, combined with other Building Performance Improvement Initiative (BPI²) components such as enhanced analytics and preventive maintenance, has helped the university save hundreds of thousands of dollars in avoided energy costs and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.

According to VP for Facilities John Shenette, “Their dedication is amazing and the results only prove the importance of our department having this in house resource.”

Dr. Chris Zarzar, Dr. Courtney Di Vittorio, and Dr. Kyana Young

These three faculty members, representing the Departments of Biology and Engineering, are working to protect and preserve our most precious resource. In collaboration with experts at NC A&T and the Yadkin Riverkeeper, they are improving and expanding watershed modeling at High Rock Lake and remediating ecologically harmful algae blooms. Aspects of the work include monitoring runoff quality in the Muddy Creek watershed, correlating lake samples with drone images to improve remote sampling, and fabricating geomembranes to filter detrimental nutrients from runoff. The project exemplifies the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration, community partnerships, and social impact.

Amanda Foster-Kaufman, Kathy Shields, and Jeff Eller
Co-chairs of the ZSR Wellness and Sustainability Committee

You may know ZSR Library as a place to study, do research, or attend an occasional lecture, but did you know that it’s also home to some innovative thinkers working behind the scenes on sustainable behavior change? Kathy and Amanda–ZSR’s Green Team captains–along with Jeff, have co-chaired the ZSR Wellness and Sustainability Committee through its inaugural year, developing programming to advance knowledge, skills, and practices that contribute to a sustainable and balanced lifestyle. Among other initiatives, they have made waste diversion the norm in their building, implementing a self-run organics collection system for offices and events. By creating a formal structure through which they can empower others, the group is quickly transforming the culture of their space. 

Kathy Shields, Research & Instruction Librarian for History and Social Science

Amanda Foster Kaufman, Learning and Instructional Services Librarian

Jeff Eller, Head of Acquisitions and Description

Sakina Barthe-Sukhera (’22), Monet Beatty (’20), and Reed Fedowitz (’21) 

Monet Beatty ‘20
Reaching new audiences is hard, especially with respect to sustainability. But that’s exactly where Monet excels. She created, directed, and produced “Breathe,” a dance production she funded through an IPLACe grant, for Earth Month. The interdisciplinary effort drew folks from Dance and Theatre, Engineering, Sustainability, and the Environmental Program as collaborators and focuses on both the beauty of nature and the realities of climate change. According to Monet, it represents the “constant fight to create the world we want to live in.” The Winston-Salem native also serves as an Environmental Education intern with the Piedmont Environmental Alliance, preparing student volunteers to teach environmental concepts to local middle schoolers, and has spoken at Winston-Salem State about the impacts of human consumption and how individuals can lower their carbon footprints. Monet is living proof that one person can make a difference.

Reed Fedowitz ‘21
When it comes to being environmentally responsible with your purchases, you could try to limit yourself to companies with a stated mission to reduce climate impacts. Or you could advocate to change the bylaws of one of Wake’s largest student organizations. As the Greeks Go Green representative for Alpha Phi Omega (APO), Reed proposed new bylaws that would require the organization to only patronize companies that clearly articulate the environmental impacts of their practices, provide specific measurable and attainable goals with defined timelines to reduce those impacts, and publish environmental audits that demonstrate legal compliance and progression toward their goals. Though they did not pass, Reed’s efforts started a conversation about the state of the bylaws and steps are currently being taken to incorporate the changes. Says his nominator, “It is evident that Reed cares about the well-being and health of our community at large and continues to push to make realistic and long-term changes on campus.”

Sakina Barthe-Sukhera ‘22
It’s only fitting that we conclude Earth Month by recognizing someone who is leading the way when it comes to civic action for sustainability, just as that group of passionate Wake Forest students did on the first Earth Day 50 years ago. Sakina was the driving force behind last fall’s Climate Strike WFU, which balanced a sense of urgency with hope in order to spur action to combat climate change. Recognizing that public demonstrations can be a force for good, and not being willing to sit on the sidelines while others make decisions that harm humanity, she brought together Wake Forest students, faculty, staff, and alumni to send a unified message demanding action. “As Americans, we have freedom of speech, but we’re scared to exercise it, we’re scared to support what we believe,” says Sakina. One thing’s for certain: Sakina’s not scared!

Voices of Earth Day 

A student podcast series digging into stories of protest and passion from the very first Earth Day in 1970 and the half century since. This audio storytelling project was done in collaboration with undergraduate students in the spring 2020 Journalism class “The Art of Audio.”

Digging Up Wake Forest History 

Did you know that Wake Forest students, faculty, and staff joined this movement of 20 million Americans on April 22, 1970 by planning a full day of teach-ins on campus? Part of that monumental day even included over 200 students gathering in Tribble Courtyard for a “Pollution Culprit Burial” of a combustion engine, cigarettes, and a sign representing poison.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Wake Forest Special Collections & Archives is offering access to resources that will take you back in time. These include online items as well as traditional records available upon request. Please contact archives@wfu.edu with any special requests.

Start Digging

Explore climate solutions for North Carolina, take a tour of the Campus Garden, and go behind-the-scenes with “The Making of Breathe”

Climate Solutions for North Carolina

On Tuesday, April 7, students, faculty, and community members across the state joined us for a virtual panel and dialog on climate solutions for North Carolina. This event was part of Solve Climate by 2030 — webinars across 50 states highlighting state-level climate solutions. Wake Forest University hosted the webinar for the state of North Carolina. Following the panel, colleagues from the Office of Civic and Community engagement facilitated three virtual breakout discussions using the deliberative dialogue framework. This process engaged participants, allowing them to share their perspectives on the three outlined climate choices and weigh the costs and benefits of each.

Virtual Tour of the Campus Garden

Are you a faculty member looking for an engaging, virtual opportunity for your students? Join the Wake Forest Campus Garden and Campus as Lab Manager, Nathan Peifer, on this virtual tour of the Wake Forest Campus GardenThis 40-minute tour covers everything from composting to regenerative agriculture processes, backyard beekeeping, and more. It is designed for faculty across all disciplines who are seeking virtual material. In Fall 2019 alone, faculty from 18 different courses incorporated hands-on engagements in the Campus Garden as part of their courses.

The Making of Breathe

Monet Beatty (’20), Presidential Dance Scholar and Office of Sustainability Intern, had a vision for what happens when art and sustainability collide. Opening night for her collaborative dance production “Breathe” would have been April 9. Monet’s dedication to communicating the climate crisis through breath and movement lives on virtually in this behind-the-scenes mini documentary, asking us all: how will you commit to taking action for the changing climate?In several different ways, “Breathe” touches on how natural it is to breathe, and the idea that when airways are obstructed, life ceases to exist. Dance pieces explore life in a way that reflects how we live now, the climate crisis, and the depletion of our resources. Dancers consist of members of the WFU Dance Company as well as high-school dancers from community dance studios.

Choreographed and Directed by Presidential Dance Scholar and Office of Sustainability Environmental Education Intern, Monet Beatty (’20).

Our 70+ Green Team Captains are spreading positivity and staying in touch through our Green Team Hump Day Challenge.

Are you a captain looking to stay connected? Check out the Green Team Positivity Board.
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