Sustainability Leadership Program will launch in the fall

797

Junior Thomas Miller, current sustainability
director, pushes a wheelbarrow at the
Campus Farm as part of the Eco Reps initiative.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ANTHONY BARATTA

The three Rs of conservation might soon be changing to an “S,” “L” and “P” when the Student Leadership Program launches next fall.

While student Eco-Reps, who are responsible for taking initiative and participating in conservation efforts around campus, have been around since 2012, their numbers have stayed steadily around ten until recent semesters. This semester, their numbers hit thirty, and Sustainability Director Anthony Barrata ’10 felt the time was ripe to launch the Sustainability Leadership Program (SLP).

“Amidst all of this growth, I was thinking, ‘how do we expand this and make this even more meaningful for students?’” Barrata said.

The solution hit him at a sustainability conference in November, where he listened in on sessions about the role of sustainability officers in career development.

“On the way back from this conference I stayed up all night on the plane ride writing a draft for this program that would add in the leadership institute, would add in the partnership with the Hubbard Center and would have students be able to say they’d completed the SLP.”

Under this new, much more structured program, students involved will be expected to complete the 3:6:1 plan. This will include three semesters in an Office of Sustainability student position, take at least six Hubbard Center Learning Through Experiential Applications Programs and attend one Sustainability Leadership Institute retreat.

Unlike the Environmental Fellows, there is no academic aspect to this programming, and Barrata calls is a “complement” to the classroom experience.

There are also now three levels within the program, starting with Eco-Reps and finishing with the two students directors. In the mid-tier section are three new Office of Sustainability interns: the Sustainable Agriculture Intern, the Entrepreneurship Intern and the Student Sustainability Consultant.

Junior Mitch Metzger, one of the current student directors for Eco-Reps along with fellow junior Thomas Miller, believes that the added structure will be an enticement for students to the new program.

“Right now, all those different projects, it’s Eco-Reps doing them, and then me and Thomas [Miller] overseeing them. It’s hectic, and it’s tough, and there’s no discernable ladder to climb,” he said. “Now there’s a trajectory. There’s a path.”

Each of these three interns will have certain projects that they will oversee and work with Eco-Reps to complete. While the Sustainable Agriculture Intern will work with the campus farm and the farmer’s market, the Entrepreneurship Intern will be in charge of the Thrifty Tiger—a campus thrift shop opening in the Mason Jar next fall—and the Student Sustainability consultant will work with campus offices, like Facilities Management, to create campus conservation goals

Junior Melissa Guerrero, a current Eco-Rep, believes that the SLP and the addition of these internships will make what Eco-Reps does now “bigger”.

“Now there’s a little niche in there for everyone the more it grows,” she said.

Within this plan, Barrata stressed the addition of the partnership with the Hubbard Center.

“We haven’t found another college that’s doing anything like this,” he said. “Nothing that packages it together like this.”

Metzger agreed that the added requirements with the Hubbard Center are key.

“With the Hubbard Center, you’ll be gaining the skills to be a leader and really orienting your life towards where you want to go,” he said.

As well as the addition of Hubbard Center involvement, students who complete the SLP will need to attend a Sustainability Leadership Institute, which is billed on the program’s flier as “a rugged, three day wilderness adventure for SLP students to build friendship, learn teamwork and prepare for an exciting year.”

Along with the college aspect of the institute, Barrata hopes to soon expand into a high school institute.

“In 2016, we’ll take what we learn this summer, and translate it for high school students.”

With this new program, current Eco-Reps will have the opportunity to either complete the Hubbard Center programming and a Leadership Institute so that they can say they have completed the SLP, or they can choose to work solely within Eco-Reps.

“Students can start off as an Eco-Rep, and they’re not committing to completing the SLP,” he said.

However, students do have to start off as Eco-Reps before being able to move to the higher tiers and paid internships within the programming.

With today as the deadline, Barrata has received about 15 applications, but continues to encourage those interested to reach out to him at his depauw.edu email address.

“When students are empowered to say ‘go make this change and I’ll be there to support you,’—that’s when really amazing things can happen.”