Student fund to expand campus sustainability projects

Student fund to expand campus sustainability projects

A student writes about what sustainability means to her on a Nebraska-shaped chalkboard during the university's 2016 Earth Day celebration in April.
Courtesy | Green UNL
A student writes about what sustainability means to her on a Nebraska-shaped chalkboard during the university's 2016 Earth Day celebration in April.

A new, student-powered fund is designed to expand sustainability programming at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The Green Fund — which was approved by a student vote in 2015, established by the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska in spring 2016 and officially launches next semester — utilizes a $1 student fee to support student-led sustainability projects on campus. The Green Fund Selections Committee is currently seeking applications to fund first-round projects in the spring.

"Historically, students have been at the heart of pushing for sustainability issues on campus," said Vivian Nguyen, a graduate student and member of the selections committee. "To have this extra support from ASUN and fellow students, saying that these types of projects are important, is a big success.

"It's going to be exciting to see these student-led projects develop and potentially lead to long-lasting change on campus."

To be considered for a Green Fund grant, proposals must be led by an individual student or a recognized student organization. Proposals must also have a faculty/staff sponsor and incorporate publicity, education or outreach.

Proposal concepts can range from educational opportunities like bringing a sustainability speaker to campus or establishing a workshop, to more hands-on activities, such as establishing a native plant garden or building solar phone/laptop charging stations.

"We specifically did not list criteria about what types of proposals would be considered," said Cale Broderson, a senior business management major and Green Fund committee chair. "We want to keep the door wide open to encourage a broad range of ideas."

All proposals will go through a three-step approval process. First, Nebraska faculty experts will review the proposals for viability. The faculty reports and related proposals will then be vetted by the Green Fund committee — which includes seven voting student members and is advised by Prabhakar Shrestha, the university's sustainability coordinator — before facing a final approval by ASUN.

"We have had a number of student-led projects that have grown to become sustainability practices campuswide," Shrestha said. "These Green Fund grants will provide a launching pad for ideas that will benefit the entire campus and the environment."

Recent student-led projects that incorporated into university sustainability practices include the elimination of polystyrene (Styrofoam) used for food packaging, zero-waste events, and a composting program for food waste by vendors in the Nebraska Union.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to work with students to develop Green Fund proposals. Also, faculty interested in serving as proposal advisers can get involved by sending email to greenfund.unl@gmail.com.

Applications for first-round grants can be submitted online or turned into the ASUN Office in the Nebraska Union. The first application deadline is in January.

For additional information on the Green Fund, click here.

UNL students Vivian Nguyen (left) and Cale Brodersen examine worms that are turning food waste into compost at Big Red Worms, a new composting operation in west Lincoln. | Troy Fedderson, University Communications
Green Fund selection committee members Vivian Nguyen and Cale Broderson examine the compost operation at Big Red Worms in Lincoln. The committee will start to consider Green Fund grant applications in the spring.
Students learn about sustainability during the university's 2016 Earth Day celebration in April.