“Connect and Sustain,” this year’s theme for Missouri State University’s sustainability conference on Oct. 19, promises to educate the campus and the community about sustainability advancements made on campus. Most conference activities will be held in the Plaster Student Union (PSU).
Exhibits created by faculty and students, as well as community projects and demonstrations will be on display from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on the third floor of the PSU.
“Local environmental organizations will be there to let faculty, staff and students know how they can volunteer to help,” said Dr. Tammy Jahnke, dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences. “The City of Springfield will be there, so if people have questions about how to recycle something at home – they will get the information quickly!”
Guest speakers, experts in the community and students will all play a role in the events planned for the day:
Noon: “Building the Next Generation Wal-Mart: Sustainability at the World’s Largest Retailer” will be presented by Jeff Rice, director of sustainability for Wal-Mart and Missouri State alum, in PSU 313.
2 p.m.: “Communities Connect and Sustain,” a panel comprised of Barbara Lucks, materials recovery and education coordinator at City of Springfield; Dr. Mike Burton, associate professor of agriculture; student Paige Jenkins; and Kate Murr, Springfield resident, will relate their varied experiences and share ways we can make sustainability more a part of day-to-day living instead of disconnected events in PSU 313.
3:05 p.m.: “Students Connect and Sustain” will feature a panel of students who will discuss how sustainability measures on campus have grown, continue to evolve and how students can participate in events through the sustainability commission. This panel will take place in PSU 313.
4 p.m.: The “Community Garden Tour” is an opportunity for members of the campus and community to learn about the development of the campus garden. Student garden volunteers will be on hand to give tours and answer questions. A guide will lead a group to the campus garden from PSU 313, leaving at 3:55 p.m. A group will meet at the campus garden, at the intersection of Normal and Dollison, for this presentation.
5:30 p.m.: “Water…There’s No Free Lunch” will be presented by Peter Herschend, co-owner of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation. Herschend serves as chairman of the board of Upper White River Basin Foundation, known as “Ozarks Water Watch,” a group dedicated to preserving water quality in the Ozarks. This presentation will take place in PSU 313 and a reception will follow in PSU 315.
9 p.m.: Student Activities Council will show “The Last Mountain,” an environmental film about coal mining in the Appalachians, in the PSU Theater.
Missouri State University and the sustainability commission have made many advancements in the last year, including installation of low flow shower heads in the residence halls, to conserve water usage. Collection of baseline data by the students and sustainability committee has allowed the university to be one of the first 50 to submit a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) report to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), who awarded Missouri State a bronze STARS rating.
Student-led initiatives, such as the campus garden, continue to promote sustainability on campus. Carrie’s Café, a student-run restaurant in the hospitality and restaurant administration department, is utilizing fresh produce from the campus garden in their dishes this year.
“For one, we will be buying basil from them to use in our pesto, which will be served on our fall chicken sandwich,” said Abbe Ehlers, coordinator and principal instructor for Carrie’s Café. “Any move toward purchasing things locally helps reduce the carbon footprint of foods, and the cooperation of the café with the campus garden is a great example of that. The campus garden is organic, so the ground water in our area is not compromised by the growing of the products. The garden composts, and this, too, supports the environment.”
“Connect and Sustain” will also encourage students, faculty and staff to get involved in future sustainable projects.
“In the coming year we will be applying for LEED certification for three building projects on campus: Darr Agricultural Center, the Recreation Center and the Greenwood Lab addition,” said Jahnke. “We are currently installing water bottle filling stations in every building on campus that were approved and funded by the sustainability commission.”
All “Connect and Sustain” events are free and open to the public.