Ohio University

OHIO announces 2021 Sustainability Award winners

Published: April 22, 2021 Author: Sam Crowl

Ohio University’s Office of Sustainability is pleased to celebrate Earth Day with recognition of the 2021 Sustainability Award winners. The annual Sustainability Awards are given to individuals and organizations nominated by their peers for contributions during the previous academic year. 

The Faculty Sustainability Award is given to an OHIO faculty member who has made exemplary contributions to their field through sustainability-related teaching, research, scholarship or service. 

Amy Lynch
Amy Lynch

This year’s award is given to Assistant Professor of Geography Amy Lynch. Dr. Lynch is an urban planner with a conservation and environmental management background whose research is focused on green infrastructure and sustainability community monitoring. She was nominated for building her classes around experiential exercises that engage students with the local community on topics of sustainability.

“Dr. Lynch gives experiential assignments that require students to visit parts of Athens to observe how different types of city infrastructure provide benefits for residents, the environment, and the economy,” her nomination read. “Last semester, two of her students conducted a research project on the impact of the COVID pandemic on bikeway use. Dr. Lynch also uses this data as a teaching tool in her classes, which helps students to consider the benefits of active transportation for people, the environment, and the economy.”

The Student Sustainability Leader Award recognizes a student who has excelled in sustainable actions and leadership at Ohio University.

Abbey Rodjom
Abbey Rodjom

This year’s student leader voting resulted in a tie. The 2021 award winners are graduate student Abbey Rodjom (MS, Environmental Studies) and senior Allison Shryock (Honors Tutorial College, Environmental Studies and Geography). 

For the past two years Rodjom has served as the OHIO Sustainable Infrastructure Hub’s graduate assistant, helping to launch the Sustainability Project Laboratory and creating the Triple Bottom Line Cost-Benefit Analysis tool. Her nomination noted that she “has consistently studied and worked on challenges related to sustainability as a graduate student and an undergraduate before that. She persisted in working through complex datasets on interdisciplinary topics to advance sustainable solutions that can be implemented in real world applications (both on campus and in communities beyond campus). Abbey advanced work on the triple bottom line analysis that can be applied to the Climate Action Plan and assisted with workshops and demonstrations to educate people about their role in sustainability.”

Allison Shryock
Allison Shryock

Shryock served as Student Senate’s Environmental Affairs commissioner, student representative to the Ohio University Sustainability Committee, Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, and as a Climate and Sustainability Ambassador. As a Voinovich Research Scholar she also assisted the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, including working on a National Science Foundation-funded policy project. Shryock was nominated for leading efforts to “positively impact sustainability practices both inside and out of the workplace and for making every effort to advance the goals of the sustainability plan. Her research projects help to make the University create less waste, teach people about the importance of a low-impact lifestyle and save the school money. Outside of her work, I’ve witnessed her help transform our friends’ lifestyles to teach us to live more sustainably, sharing her contagious passion for the environment.”

The Staff Sustainability Advocate Award is given to a staff member who has served as an advocate for advancing sustainability initiatives at Ohio University.

The 2021 Staff Sustainability Advocate Award goes to Elissa Welch, manager of energy and environmental projects at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and a liaison to external academic, non-profit, public and private sectors to promote the University’s energy and environmental expertise. Welch has contributed to OHIO Sustainability Plan progress by helping to create and lead the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, Athletics and Sustainability Task Force, Greening OHIO Initiative, and through her mentorship of students. 

Elissa Welch
Elissa Welch

Her nominator stressed that Welch is passionate about her work, constantly contacting students about sustainability opportunities on and off campus, and that “without Elissa my practicum would not have been nearly effective, and I am very appreciative of her for pushing me and encouraging me to ask the hard questions. I think she deserves this award because she is an integral part of the Voinovich School’s Zero Waste Initiative and is committed to furthering the University’s sustainability goals."

The Exemplary Sustainability Department Award honors an office or department at Ohio University that has shown great leadership in a variety of sustainable behaviors.

This year’s award is presented to the Voinovich School’s Environmental Studies Program for their efforts to advance sustainability and climate action on campus, in our community, and in the wider world. The department’s nominator noted that “The MSES and undergraduate Environmental Studies certificate curricula are fundamentally oriented around people, planet, and profit in research and action. The student-faculty-staff teams working within Environmental Studies advance sustainability through engaged and funded research in water, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, environmental education, waste reduction, and global environmental governance. This sustainability portfolio, ranging from on-campus and within Athens County up to a wide range of national and international locations make the ES Program a prominent contributor to sustainability on numerous fronts.”

And finally, each year the Ohio University Office of Sustainability extends Community Sustainability Recognition to a community member or organization nominated for their participation in programs that help support community-wide sustainability efforts.

This year’s Community Sustainability Recognition is awarded to Passion Works Studios, a collaborative community art space, for its sustainable support of Athens and our surrounding communities. Since its inception in 1988, Passion Works has gravitated toward upcycled art-making, working with reclaimed materials. Passion Works collaborates with partners, including Campus Recycling & Zero Waste and the Office of Sustainability, which share its vision to foster sustainable product development that promotes socioeconomic growth. 

At the heart of the studios is a core group of professional artists with developmental differences following a mission “to inspire and liberate the human spirit through the arts.” Passion Works follows the Creative Abundance Model, an “asset-based approach that includes people of all abilities and upcycles materials to foster creative economies and inclusive communities.”

The well-known Passion Flower, the official flower of the City of Athens, is made from used metal printing plates from the Athens Messenger. These plates are cleaned at the Community Makerspace and provided to Passion Works artists to paint. To date, 30,000 Passion Flowers have been sold, yielding over $2 million in sales. Additionally, an OHIO practicum student designed a jewelry line from the remaining “waste” pieces after the petals were made.

Passion Works Studios is a leader in demonstrating how circular-economy upcycling fosters community engagement and social equality, environmental sustainability, and economic growth, and is a worthy recipient of the Community Sustainability Recognition award. 

As Ohio University and the Athens community celebrate Earth Day, the Office of Sustainability is pleased to recognize these outstanding contributions to sustainability at OHIO and in the local community.