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UA green groups to present at major conference

UA+sustainability+organizations+headed+to+Baltimore+to+attend+a+sustainability+in+higher+education+conference+to+present+and+attend+workshops.
Courtesy Students for Sustainability

UA sustainability organizations headed to Baltimore to attend a sustainability in higher education conference to present and attend workshops.

UA sustainability organizations are heading to Baltimore, Maryland for the annual Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference. The conference kicked off with a student summit on Oct. 9 and continues through Oct. 12 with programming aimed at bringing students together from around North America to talk about sustainability programs in higher education.

Several different UA sustainability clubs are in attendance, such as Students for Sustainability, Compost Cats and the Green Fund, a group of students that decides where to allocate funding for different sustainability projects. Twenty-nine UA students in total are in Baltimore for the conference.

SFS alone sent 22 students, according to Stephanie Choi, SFS co-director and a literacy, learning and leadership senior.

Choi said last year, the UA had the most students attending the conference.

“That was pretty awesome,” Choi said. “A lot of times it’s just like academics and staff members and not a ton of undergraduate students, so we bring definitely a ton of undergrad, which is great.”

Choi said that the organization tried to encourage more people to apply to attend the conference this year.

The UA has been attending the conference for five years, according to Julia Rudnick, the coordinator of campus sustainability programs and the administrator for the Green Fund. Rudnick said the UA traditionally has been “very blessed with such student activism” and that a large percentage of students attend the conference.

The UA department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science provided some of the funding for SFS’s trip, according to Choi, who said students could also submit applications for funding from outside sources.

Students can attend the conference for different reasons and the conference is open to everyone, Rudnick said. Once at the conference, students can attend different workshops and sessions.

“It’s really busy at AASHE,” Rudnick said. “You could easily have 10 different tracks with 10 different sections going on every hour on the hour.”

Choi said some UA students are also presenting at the conference.

She said she’s presented at the conference in previous years, and this year is no exception. Her presentation this year is on an environmental arts committee she started last year looking at how the arts can be a medium and a channel for sustainability and activism.

“I think it’s really a comfortable and welcoming environment and people are really just … receptive,” Choi said.

Rudnick said those who are presenting are gaining skills that they can bring back to the university.

For some students, such as Troy Mason, a political science senior, it is their first time attending and presenting at the conference. Mason is the farm manager of the Compost Cats.

“I’m really looking to seeing what other people are doing to bring sustainability to the forefront of higher education,” Mason said. “A lot of people are really excited to hear about Compost Cats because we have a pretty unique model for sustainability in college, so I’m curious what other schools are doing.”

Mason said they are looking to learn new things to bring back to the UA at the conference. Rudnick has similar hopes for students who attend the conference.

“Hopefully they are going and they are meeting other students who are doing some of the same things that they’re doing on their campus,” Rudnick said. “Learning about what they’re doing so that they can come back here to the UA and talk about it and implement some of the things here on campus.”

Choi said the best part of attending the conference is being able to network with other schools, making connections for co-university projects and to share stories about what is going on at other schools.

“It’s just like a really good opportunity for us,” Choi said. “We really appreciate going, and it means a lot because we work really hard to get our presentation submitted. It’s really nice to tell everyone about our school and what we do.”Follow Ava Garcia on Twitter.


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