by Nathan Fuentez
In the future, human beings may live on other planets, but for now humanity has only the Earth. Fresno State is doing its part to keep the planet habitable with its Sustainability Project.
The project proposes “the creation of an interdisciplinary, campus-wide learning community centered on the theme of creating a culture of sustainability.” In this culture, people would create and maintain conditions that allow the environment and human beings to coexist harmoniously and productively.
Dr. Mara Brady, assistant professor of the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, said the science department is developing the project with a Campus as a Living Lab grant. A $12,000 grant awarded by the CSU Chancellor’s Office. The project brings together earth scientists and behavior analysts to try and make changes on campus that will actually stick.
“We identified a couple of key areas that we might be able to make improvements upon on campus,” Brady said. “One of them was the landscaping and whether or not we could change it out to plants that need less water. We’ve actually switched over the waste management system in office buildings that have little food waste to a process where the waste management company takes all our trash and sorts out recyclable materials.” Brady said this is a difficult thing to do because most buildings on campus are run differently and the staff may not know what programs others are using.
Criss Wilhite, Interim Director of the Central California Autism Center, said her passion is her service work for the Sustainability Project. “People in every department are interested in sustainability. One of our goals is to coordinate everyone to help reduce our carbon footprint and reduce water consumption.” Wilhite said the water-wise garden as well as this Earth Week event helps the mantra of sustainability, “reduce, reuse, and recycle.”
Wilhite also said if Fresno State can express a broad interest in sustainability, then it can become a model for the rest of the community.
Getting this information out among the campus is a struggle though, which is why Earth week was coordinated on campus. “We had the event to showcase all the interesting things going on around campus. We were trying to get a conversation going between people who don’t usually interact on a regular basis because they’re from different departments,” explained Brady.
Even students are being recruited as Sustainability Project ambassadors in order to help spread the word. Kassandra Hishida, a third year Environmental Science student at Fresno State and project ambassador, said she has high hopes for the project. “I was overwhelmed by the positive response and generosity of the people we worked with to put on this [Earth week] event. One of our primary goals was to get our name out to the Fresno State community and to get students thinking about sustainability, and we did just that.” Hishida feels the entire Earth week festival on campus was a success, but that it was just the beginning.
The Sustainability Project not only has plans to educate Fresno State students about waste management and energy efficient practices, but K-12 and the rest of community as well.
Check out more Going Green articles in this special Earth Day issue, and past ones in our Going Green section.