Each year the Environmental Caucus (EC) hosts the Sustainability Leadership Awards. These awards are presented to students, faculty, and staff who have been nominated by their peers for going above and beyond in enhancing our Culture of Sustainability at NAU or in the community. This year the Environmental Caucus received over 30 nominations covering their six different categories. The award ceremony began with a presentation from Dr. Rita Cheng, the President of NAU, and continued with award presentations from Jennus Burton, NAU’s VP of Finance and Dr. Jim Coleman, NAU’s Provost. Preceding the main event the Caucus held presentations from Green Fund Project Managers, which included John Morris, NAU’s AVP of Facility Services.
Congratulations to all of the winners and a special thank you to all Administration members who attended. Also, thank you to Caitlyn Burford, the EC Chair, and Jessica Lazor, the EC Graduate Assistant for hosting and organizing such an important event!
NAU Undergraduate Student
Cassandra Leone, 1st Place
Cassandra Leone has been dedicated to creating a culture of sustainability since the ripe age of 7. In elementary school, she raised awareness for Earth Day by organizing school-wide trash pick-ups and participating in informational plays, which she wrote. Cassandra has gained even more momentum as an Environmental Studies student at NAU. She continues to show her leadership skills through countless Green initiatives on campus. You can always catch her at the open-air market or volunteering for the Food Recovery Network. She works for Campus Dining as the Student Sustainability Coordinator and serves as Vice Chair of the Green Fund. She was also an intern for AZ Green Living Magazine. Cassandra has attended the AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) conference twice- in 2014 and 2015. In 2015, she represented NAU by presenting her work on two separate subjects: waste reduction strategies and interdepartmental success due to partnership between Campus Dining and Health Promotions. She has also presented at the Undergraduate Symposium. Cassandra wrote a successful Green Fund proposal for her current project, a podcast called At Its Roots.
2nd place: Stella Carr
3rd place: Sara Tilford
NAU Graduate Student
Dara Marks-Marino, 1st Place
Dara is completing her graduate degree in the Climate Science and Solutions program and she continues to seek ways to help NAU identify realistic waste reduction strategies. Dara is a part of the Waste Minimization Action Team and has been an important part of ensuring that recycling at tailgates happened on campus. Dara was also a key organizer for the Zero Waste Hallow-Green Game this year. Dara’s passion and high level of engagement for the Green Game made her a catalyst for the long list of action items that needed to be completed before the Oct. 31st game. Without her leadership and enthusiasm, the Green Game would not have been the success that it was. On top of the Green Game and tailgating events, she also attends many of the Environmental Caucus Energy Action Team meetings, Green Team meetings, and the Waste Minimization Team Meetings. Dara has also volunteered to do a project assessing the potential for NAU to develop a waste-incineration plant. She is also an active sustainability leader in the community and is now part of the City’s Sustainability Commission.
2nd Place: Karina Gonzales
3rd Place: Leann Leiter
Kendra Peterson received multiple nominations and is this year’s winner for the NAU Leadership Award. Kendra wrote a thorough, well-researched proposal for the College Health Education and Food Sustainability (CHEFS) Garden for Green Fund consideration. Kendra was determined in her desire to write a proposal for an on-campus garden that would grow food that followed the Sodexo garden guidelines, allowing NAU Sodexo to purchase and use food grown right here on campus. Over a period of multiple months, Kendra revised her proposal to ensure that she had the legalities and support needed to make the CHEFS Garden a reality. Kendra’s proposal covers all the necessary logistical, legal and personnel aspects for such a garden and demonstrates that such a garden can be started for the nominal amount of just over $10,000. Kendra not only worked with Sodexo employees to navigate through the necessary Sodexo regulations and legal issues, she also gained their monetary support, found a faculty sponsor, many faculty supporters who pledged their assistance, as well as graduate student and Action Learning Team support. Kendra found classes that committed to writing business plans, research and education tools, vegetable planting guidelines, logo design, and a marketing plan. She identified a matching grant that would allow the study of industrial food reduction as a result of implementation. In addition, Kendra found supporters off campus including the Flagstaff Master Gardeners, Flagstaff EcoRanch, and the Flagstaff CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Rosemary Logan formed the Integrative Food Systems Initiative this fall to bring together faculty and staff from across departments and fields to collaborate curriculums focusing on food system sustainability at NAU. Food sustainability is taught through several curriculums and this collaboration was the first time that faculty and staff were able to come together to learn about each course’s syllabus and campus events that all compliment one another’s learning objectives. Through Rosemary’s drive, a core group of faculty and staff focusing the various areas of the sustainable food movement came together to weave their many perceptives on the subject to create a unique learning opportunity. The Integrative Food Systems Initiative is an exciting new development that will have lasting impact to increase sustainability on campus. It’s a clear example, if not the next level, of the Global Learning Initiative created here at NAU with the help of the Environmental Caucus. Beyond this work, Rosemary’s own teaching for the First Seminars and support for the Kilip Elementary garden program speak volumes to her positive impact as an educator and Flagstaff community member to increase awareness and action for sustainability on campus and in the community.
The Green Jacks are a crucial organization for the student voices of sustainability on campus. The Green Jacks have been involved in a variety of events on campus. The first of the many is the Better World Film Series. The Green Jacks assist the Office of Sustainability and the Better World Film Series Intern to advertise, organize, and host a monthly film series on a variety of environmental topics, creating interactive discussions after each film, and increasing student participation and attendance this year. The Better World Seminar Series is another series of monthly events almost exclusively organized by the Green Jacks. They have worked to advertise and promote a monthly seminar series, having nearly 100 students in attendance at each event thus far. In addition to monthly events, the Green Jacks have also been crucial in sustainability efforts in conjunction with athletics, working with promoting the Green Game and Tailgate Recycling at home athletic events. The club is solely responsible for the work that goes into Earth Jam, an important and memorable event for students, especially those not typically involved in environmental programs and projects on campus. Lastly, the Green Jacks have been a central player in organizing and advocating for solar on the San Francisco Parking Garage as well as the Green Fund Fee Increase Campaign.
Flagstaff Community Project/Organization
Citizen’s Climate Lobby
Shawn and the other members of CCL have shown tremendous leadership and growth over the last year. Through their tireless efforts to grow this grassroots movement towards national legislation on climate change they have: significantly increased membership; garnered hundreds of petitions; lead the organization of the hugely successful week of climate events paralleling the Paris Climate Talks. The week culminated in the Flagstaff Climate March that got over 100 people to rally in front of City Hall. Citizen’s Climate Lobby also wrote numerous letters to the editor; provided ENV internships for four NAU students; had a strong presence at the Flagstaff Farmers Market; brought a resolution to the City’s Sustainability Commission to support CCL legislation, and brought the resolution to the City Council. CCL has gotten out across the community and has presented to City Council, churches, clubs, organizations, and NAU groups like the Environmental Caucus and the Green Jacks – educating all these groups about the danger of climate change and this grassroots solution.
Environmental Caucus Special Recognition
Cat goes above and beyond in her work, working with Campus Dining through Sodexo. She is rarely in her office for more than a few hours a day because she meets with countless students each week and is extremely active in her role. If a student is even slightly interested in campus dining, Cat makes time for them between meetings, managing the hydroponics system, visiting composting heaps, and participating in panels. Cat is consistently coming up with new ideas and ways of implementation for sustainable dining. She was also involved in a post-consumer composting project that allows easy composting in the Hot Spot instead of consumer food waste. Cat inspires many students with her passion and enthusiasm and is an incredibly important asset to NAU’s sustainable dining. She stands out to the students she works with as both a role model and a mentor and is an incredible important asset to our Culture of Sustainability.