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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Faces of Sustainability - New Vet Med Teams Hit The Ground Running

Shortly after the start of this year, the College of Veterinary Medicine formed a number of department Green Teams, and met with the Office of Sustainability to ensure they had all the necessary tools, knowledge, and ideas to make their office spaces and business practices more sustainable.

The Dean’s Office team is making strides in energy conservation by participating in the “Chomp Down on Energy” campaign, as well as promoting recycling and waste reduction. Captain Mary Ring promptly reached out to get some additional bins in the building, and team members have been actively removing the office address from junk mail lists to help cut waste at the source. “Education is key,” says Ring, as is recognition for any and all efforts to help encourage camaraderie in sustainability. “If there's one thing we've all learned during the course of the past 6 months it is that every little accomplishment is an important part of the big accomplishment and everyone should be just as thrilled in results whether large or small,” she said.

The Department of Infectious Disease and Pathology team and their captain, Anna Lundgren, are also getting creative. While the team sends out an e-newsletter to keep staff aware of efforts and provide tips, they are also working to audit vending machine use in the hopes of eliminating one of three machines to reduce energy consumption and encourage the use of reusable bottles.

Captain Barbara Dupont has a number of exciting efforts underway in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. In addition to switching to all electronic exams in the Health Science Center, the team has also put in place a process for saving dry ice packs from deliveries, keeping the environmentally sensitive waste out of the trash and allowing for reuse by others. SACS is also working on a green employee pledge to be included as part of their new hire packet, as well as a similar pledge for current employees.

Jennifer Wallace with the UF Small Animal Hospital made sure to obtain recycling bins for the lobby, while department staff is working hard to shut computers off at night and coordinate with management on adjusting student default printer settings to double-sided.

For more information on Green Teams visit the Green Teams website, or contact Ashley Pennington.

Sustainable Floridians: New County Extension Pilot Program Hopes to Expand Sustainability Conversation, Action around State

Starting in the fall of 2010, a pilot program, Sustainable Floridians, will be offered through IFAS Extension. Sustainable Floridians will provide a forum for education and action that addresses concerns specific to Florida’s ecosystems, economy and growth at the local and regional scales.

The non-credit adult education program is designed for citizen volunteers who enroll through county extension offices. It is a hybrid of instructor-led sessions and a peer-to-peer model. The instructor-led portion ensures provision of reliable, Florida specific information incorporated into a 7-week curriculum, while the peer interaction section brings in local knowledge, fosters group cohesion, and provides for a more dynamic learning experience.

The program is designed to take advantage of extension service institutional strengths to deliver sustainability programming. These strengths include delivery of sound, reputable information in a network of existing communication channels throughout the state of Florida. County faculty will lead the program with technical assistance from state specialists and with involvement from a lead volunteer who receives special training in advance.

The primary goals of the program include satisfying the demand among citizens for sustainability programs, creating leadership groups within the community to take on service projects appropriate to that community, and providing greater resilience for communities by working with citizens at grassroots level. Each class will pick a group project early on, such as creation of a local eating guide, installation of a rain or community garden, or participating in low-income weatherization projects. Planning and implementing this project is the capstone element of the course. As with other master programs, participants will take on an obligation to contribute a number of hours in service equivalent to the hours received in their education and training, and those who complete all these requirements will be awarded certification.

Article is courtesy of Kathryn Ziewitz, Florida Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences