back to news Nov. 16, 2017

Students honored for campus, community sustainability efforts

Student sustainability leaders at Ohio State have been honored for their success by a group of local and regional governments and organizations.

On Nov. 14, the Student Sustainability Council received the Green Collaborative Achievement Award, which recognizes a group of entities or individuals who have shown effectiveness in producing environmental accomplishments through a collaborative effort, from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC).

Michelle Wentling and Marie McConnell, Student Sustainability Council president and vice president, respectively, accepted the award during the Summit on Sustainability, MORPC’s annual environmental conference that brings hundreds of community leaders together to explore sustainable ideas and solutions and to celebrate sustainability efforts.

The award was primarily presented for last spring's Time for Change Week, a series of student-organized events to raise community awareness and activism about energy, environment and sustainability issues. Wentling, an English major in the College of Arts and Sciences, and McConnell, an environmental policy and decision making major in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, will again lead the council’s plans for the 2018 Time for Change Week, which is scheduled for April 1-6, 2018. 

“The Ohio State University’s Student Sustainability Council works very hard to raise awareness and create activities that seek solutions to energy, environment and sustainability challenges on our campus and in the community,” said Ohio State President Michael V. Drake.

Time for Change Week brings together the council’s member organizations as well as campus units such as the Office of Energy and Environment, Student Life, University Marketing, Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, and the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Community entities who collaborated included the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Ohio State Parks, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, Roll Bicycles, Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed and Green Columbus.

Examples of success during the 2017 Time for Change week include:

  • Attendance doubled to nearly 600 people at the student-organized Sustainability Fair, the week’s hallmark event where more than 40 campus and community environmental organizations showcased sustainability opportunities and efforts to students.
  • At Seeds of Service — which had 200 participants this year, compared to about 50 in 2016 — student volunteers planted trees, removed invasive plants and picked up litter along the Olentangy River.
  • During a plastic bag exchange, students collected about 6,000 plastic bags for recycling and distributed 300 reusable grocery bags.
  • Buckeye Blackout encourages students to unplug electronics and attend an annual concert hosting local bands. In 2016, an estimated 125 students attended; this year, it was about 250.
  • Various other events engaged representatives and experts from the Central Ohio community. Examples include a pollinator speaker panel; a fair trade and sustainability talk; an environmental justice discussion; a sustainability fashion showcase; a Sierra Club canoe excursion; and a light-bulb exchange to promote LED bulbs for off-campus residents.

MORPC is a voluntary association of Central Ohio governments and regional organizations that envisions and embraces innovative directions in transportation, energy, housing, land use, the environment and economic prosperity. Members are representative of the rural, urban and suburban communities that comprise 15 counties in Central Ohio.

This story was originally published by The Ohio State University Office of Energy and Environment.