environmental awareness

EPA Interns Help Launch OnCampus ecoAmbassador Program For The College Crowd

By Kristin Cassidy and Kelley Doyle

Being involved on campus is an essential element of your college experience. As interns working on the OnCampus ecoAmbassador program, we were lucky enough to continue our extracurricular involvement throughout the summer while preparing the program for its September 1st launch date.

Even though we were interns, we were an integral part of the small team working on the OnCampus program. Rather than fetch coffee and make copies –which we are thankful to say we never did– we created and edited resource guides for more than 30 activities in addition to marketing the program to colleges across the country. By the end of our internship, we had contacted over 85 colleges!

The OnCampus ecoAmbassador program provides EPA resources to college students to complete activities that “green” their campuses and promote environmental awareness. Students register their activities online on the EPA OnCampus website and interact with other ecoAmbassadors through a Facebook page. Past ecoAmbassadors have initiated composting programs, coordinated Earth Day events, and certified campus buildings as Energy Star compliant.

One of our favorite days this summer was when we filmed an OnCampus PSA with celebrity Rachael Leigh Cook. We were nervous while waiting for her outside in the 100 degree heat, but as soon as we saw her smiling, as she strutted toward us in 6-inch heels while avoiding treacherous D.C. potholes and cobblestones, we knew we had nothing to worry about. She filmed the PSA like a pro, accepted our gift bag of EPA items graciously, and bid us good-bye with big hugs and thank-you’s.

But what’s next for us? We’re grateful for our 10 weeks at the EPA and are eager to return to school for our senior year. We couldn’t just abandon all ties to the EPA… so we’re registering for ecoAmbassador activities this fall! At American University, Kristin will be creating a lesson plan and teaching local elementary students about an environmental issue of her choice. At UC Berkeley, Kelley will build upon her existing extracurricular commitments in the Greek community by organizing a recycling program for fraternities and sororities on game days during the football season.

About the author: Kristin Cassidy and Kelley Doyle are summer interns in the Office of Environmental Education. Kristin is a rising senior at American University majoring in international relations and Kelley is a rising senior at UC Berkeley majoring in environmental sciences.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Watts Up With School Energy?

About the author: Kelly Leovic manages EPA’s Environmental and Community Outreach Program in Research Triangle Park. Kelly has worked at EPA for 21 years and has three children, one of whom needs regular reminders to “turn the lights off when you leave the room.”

“Raise your hand if you recycle,” I said to 15 students at Lowes Grove Middle School in Durham, NC. It was my first apprenticeship class at Citizen Schools, a national program that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low-income children.

The goal of my 10-week Environmental Awareness Apprenticeship was to guide the students in developing an environmental project. No hands were raised in response to my recycling question, so I launched into my “Trash Talk” lesson which, in addition to REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, includes a trash sort activity. The students sorted through bags of “trash” to discover what could be reused, composted, or recycled. They quickly applied their new knowledge of the three R’s and were on their way to environmental awareness.

As the apprenticeship progressed, we learned about water pollution, conservation, and energy. (A few students even admitted taking over 1 hour showers, so we had a little talk about that one!) One day we used Watts meters to measure and compare the energy use of regular light bulbs and compact fluorescents. Equating energy use to money piqued their interest, and the students decided to do their project on measuring the energy use of various school equipment.

image of student sitting at his desk with a calculatorMy “apprentices” used a Watts meter to measure computers, printers, microwaves, pencil sharpeners, and projectors during use and when they were turned off but plugged in. Next, the students calculated the estimated annual cost of using the equipment based on 9.86 cents per Kilowatt/hour and multiplied this by the number of each and estimated time used.
 
What suprised us the most was that, based on estimated usage time, the 37 printers at the school actually use more energy when they are plugged in but turned off ($117 annually) than when they are in use ($75 annually). This is because some appliances, e.g., think of a microwave clock, still consume energy just by being plugged in.

I truly enjoyed teaching these kids because they didn’t begin with much environmental knowledge, so I felt I could make a difference in their behaviors and choices. Being a Citizen Teacher also gave me the opportunity to work with the same group of students throughout the semester and to get to know them individually. One of the highlights for the students was their field trip to our EPA Building where they could see EPA’s energy conservation efforts in practice.

In addition to learning about ways to conserve energy at school, the students had an opportunity to “teach” their Principal about what they learned, presenting their results and recommendations for school energy savings at a staff meeting. This is one visit to the Principal’s office that I can feel good about!

Epilogue: On December 9, the students presented their recommendations to over 200 attendees at the Citizen Schools final program. The Principal, the Superintendent of Schools, and a State Senator were there and are excited about implementing the energy saving tips from our middle school citizens.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Question of the Week: Do celebrities who champion the environment influence your decision making, and if so, how?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Many people feel that protecting the environment is important. Celebrities sometimes use their high public recognition to raise awareness for causes they support: for example, things you should do (or not do) to protect the environment.

Do celebrities who champion the environment influence your decision making, and if so, how?

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En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

Muchas personas consideran que la protección ambiental es importante. A veces las celebridades usan su renombre público para crear conciencia sobre causas que ellos apoyan, por ejemplo, las cosas que se deben hacer (o no hacer) para proteger el medio ambiente.

¿Las personas que abogan por el medio ambiente influyen la toma de sus decisiones? ¿De ser así, cómo lo hacen?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.