On June 4, a team of student leaders received an award from the Alberta Emerald Foundation in recognition of their environmental initiatives on campus.
MacEwan University celebrates Environment Week 2019.
The Sustainability Leadership Council, which is a team of students who volunteer with MacEwan University’s Office of Sustainability, won in the Youth category of the 28th annual awards program, which recognizes and celebrates “the outstanding environmental achievements of large and small businesses, individuals, not-for-profit associations, community groups, youth and governments.”
The council started with only a handful of volunteers just three years ago. Since then, it has expanded to 30 regular volunteers who initiate and manage projects to promote sustainability.
"We’re really thrilled that our volunteer program has evolved in a very short amount of time to the point where it’s award-winning,” says Kalen Pilkington, director of sustainability.
Throughout their time on the council, the students receive leadership training, mentor new volunteers and champion projects.
Because the Office of Sustainability sets the direction, the students must be selective with which strategic priorities they will focus on. Still, they are able to take on projects they’re passionate about, and some of the nearly 20 projects they’ve worked on include educational, skills and community building opportunities, like Green Spaces in which students mentor and help the university’s administrative areas and academic faculties with their own environmental strategies, or a free stationery giveaway that addresses excess stationery waste. This past winter, they presented their initiatives at the Alberta Student Leadership Summit.
“A lot of student projects are handed in and that’s the last they see of it,” says Kalen. “We want what the students are doing to have lasting impactful change at the institution, and that not only empowers them, but it infuses passion because they can see how all this hard work they put in resulted in an amazing initiative that we celebrate.”
Kerstyn Lane, the Office of Sustainability's engagement and outreach advisor, initiated the Sustainability Leadership Council in 2016 and says it began as a means for students to develop and implement sustainability projects on campus.
"While in university, students have the opportunity to learn about many of the challenges we face on this planet, and so providing an outlet to actually do something in an effort to affect change is not only great leadership experience, but necessary if we’re to solve large-scale challenges," she says. "Everyone has to begin somewhere. Believing in the passion, dedication, and enthusiasm these students have brought to campus has been rewarding for me personally, but we’ve witnessed the lasting impact these students have had on their communities and their environment."
STARS silver campus
From innovative food systems to a certified green cleaning program, MacEwan University earned a STARS silver rating by finding new ways to be a more sustainable campus.