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Students promote discussions on sustainability and climate change through outreach events

Published: December 14, 2021 Author: Sam Crowl

Ohio University’s Climate and Sustainability Ambassador program culminated its fall semester outreach initiatives with November events on East, West and South greens. 

The ambassador program, launched in the spring of 2019 by Sustainable Administration Hub Coordinator Ryan Fogt, Ph.D., takes direct action to promote sustainability and combat climate change on campus, in the city of Athens, and throughout Southeast Ohio.

With support from The Residents’ Action Council of Ohio University, OHIO Housing and Residence Life, and OHIO Culinary Services, ambassadors engaged in discussions in South Green’s Nelson Court about climate change and the role of plants and trees while assisting students in potting a succulent plant to improve their living space.

Kate Harmon, a sophomore studying environmental studies in the Honors Tutorial College, said she considered the event “a big success because it had high attendance and students learned how to plant succulents and other ways they can help protect the planet. They also received information on how to live more sustainably, and about different sustainability-related clubs on campus they can join.”

On East Green, ambassadors facilitated a clothing swap in Jefferson Hall. Students brought unwanted clothing items and swapped them for items provided by others. 

A group of ambassadors stand by tables full of shirts

On West Green, the ambassadors offered free reusable bags to students and talked about composting, recycling and problems associated with plastic bag waste. 

Fogt, a professor of meteorology in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Scalia Lab, considered the outreach events to be great opportunities for the ambassadors to reach a substantial number of on-campus students.

“The spaces we used are generally higher traffic areas, and it affords the opportunity for many great conversations, while the attendees are also able to walk away with something tangible as well,” he said.

Each event fit within an Office of Sustainability Hub and was directly tied to goals in OHIO’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. On West Green, the recycling themed event was part of an Infrastructure Hub goal (waste); on South Green, the succulent planting connected to a Living Hub goal (Student Life); and on East Green, the clothing swap event was part of an Administration Hub goal (procurement). These events allowed students to talk about multiple facets of sustainability, and how students can incorporate sustainability into their everyday decision-making process.

Students gathered around tables

These events would not be possible without the passion and dedication of the Climate and Sustainability ambassadors. 

Fogt indicated that while he helps to plan the logistical and financial aspects of the events, it is the ambassadors who make them a success by “simply having conversations with their peers on things they care about, conversations that make the campus a better place.”

The Office of Sustainability hopes the conversations at these events are just the starting point, and that students will continue to talk to others throughout their time on campus to leave a lasting impact.