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Elmira, NY (09/08/2022) — On Tuesday, recipients of the Sustainability Scholarship met and toured the Sustainability House, which will serve as their meeting space and renovation practice area this academic year.
As part of the program, the four students, each from a different class year, committed to making sustainability a personal priority. Each will be responsible for proposing and implementing campus sustainability projects. The projects will be reviewed by the Elmira College Sustainability Committee, which is comprised of faculty, staff, and students. Each Sustainability Leader will also receive a $1,000 award applied to their annual tuition.
"We're excited about this program as it is a unique opportunity for students to learn and grow while helping Elmira College incorporate sustainability practices into every aspect of the campus," said Dr. Doc Billingsley, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Sustainability minor.
The students will have access to the Sustainability House, a house formerly known as the Kelly House that sits on the edge of campus. The idea is that the vacant house can be a testing ground for the Sustainability Leaders as they research efficient and less wasteful ways to update the structure.
Christian Zwierlein '23, a Biochemistry major, applied to become a Sustainability Leader to give back to Elmira College and leave it better than when he first arrived.
"The students, faculty, and administrators here are amazing and I hope that by making sustainable changes, we can continue to improve the College for the foreseeable future," he said. "By using the Sustainability House as a testing area, I hope to work with the College on implementing rainwater collectors before graduating. My hope is to one day return to Elmira College and see these devices utilized campus-wide. This could save over 10,000 gallons of water annually."
Grace Whiffen '24, an Environmental Science major, is looking forward to putting some of what she is learning in her courses into practice. Like Zwierlein, she hopes to leave a lasting legacy at Elmira College and apply her learnings at the Sustainability House to the whole campus.
"This will give me a good experience that I can show to others later in life and say, 'I did this,'" she said.
Nursing majors Ashton Craver '25, and Alexis Barnes '26, are concerned about the amount of waste they see in today's society.
"We need to make changes if we are going to save the environment and live happy and healthy lives," said Craver.
Craver wants to learn how to better maximize materials while reducing the energy put into their creation and maintenance.
Barnes is hoping to find solutions that will help prevent waste, like establishing a donation bin so that, as students clear their belongings at the end of the academic year, items can be placed in the donation bin instead of heading to a landfill.
"This is the first group of Sustainability Leaders on campus. Their projects will become the foundation for future EC Sustainability Leaders who can then take even more ambitious steps to reduce waste and incorporate sustainable practices on and off campus," said Dr. Trevor Browning, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science.