Josh Smith Memorial Sustainability Award

An annual award to recognize community members for their outstanding contributions to UofL's sustainability initiatives.

Josh SmithJoshua A. Smith was a one-time University of Louisville student who later pursued a career in the culinary arts. Happiest when creating something of value for others, he dedicated considerable time and effort to volunteering with the University's community composting project, helping turn food waste into rich, organic fertilizer to support another cycle of growth. 

When Josh died unexpectedly on June 17, 2015, his enthusiasm for the composting project was so well known to his family that they requested mourners make donations to it in lieu of flowers. With those funds this award has been created to honor outstanding individuals who, like Josh, give their time and resources to work in concert with UofL's sustainability efforts to strengthen university-community relationships. 

A $250 cash prize and a personalized plaque will be presented to the selected recipient at the University’s Farm-to-Table Dinner each fall.

Nominees must be community members operating alongside a University of Louisville entity (department, office, team, student organization, etc.) to directly facilitate projects related to sustainability. Submissions may come from within the University as well as from the general public; both self-nominations and nominations of candidates by other parties are encouraged and will receive equal weight. Current UofL staff, faculty, and students are ineligible, but nominations of alumni and former employees are welcome, along with staff, faculty, and students at other academic institutions.

Nominations are due by noon on September 1st via email to the UofL Sustainability Engagement Committee Chair, Dr. Brian Barnes, at In your email, please provide the nominee’s name and contact information and explain clearly:

  1. What the project is and how it is connected to sustainability efforts at UofL,
  2. The role of the nominee in the project and their specific contributions to it, and
  3. Why you believe they should receive this award.

Please contact Dr. Barnes (, 502-338-1338) with any questions about the award or the nomination process.

2017 Award Winner: Dave Barker

Dave Barker (right) is presented with the 2017 Josh Smith Sustainability Award by Brian Barnes (left)At the Farm-To-Table dinner on November 1st, 2017, the UofL Sustainability Council awarded the inaugural Josh Smith Memorial Sustainability Award to our friend and community partner, Dave Barker. Dave is a neighbor to UofL's Shelby campus and first approached us in 2014 to inquire about tapping some of our campus trees to make maple syrup at his home sugar shack. That initial, innocent inquiry has since blossomed into one of the most fun, visible, and dynamic Campus As A Living Lab for Sustainability projects at UofL.

Throughout the years, Dave has selflessly given of his time, tools, equipment, and muscle to help spread the word and his enthusiasm for tapping untapped resources and turning them into delicious sustenance. In the springs of 2016 and 2017, Dave worked intimately with Dr. Linda Fuselier and her team in the Biology department to integrate tree tapping into new Sustainable Community Engagement sections of BIOL 104 - Laboratory for Introduction to Biological Systems for non-science-majors. The students experimented with tapping trees on Belknap campus to gather sap for syrup, learn about the process, and study the environmental conditions that influence it. Dave Barker - Helping Tap Trees 2016UofL's maple trees on campus had never been tapped before, so students, faculty and staff were involved in learning about a new urban agroforestry resource on campus.

Dave returned to campus multiple times to offer instruction both in the classroom and in co-curricular workshops and pancake parties that have helped spread the joy of maple sugaring in Kentucky! We salute you, Dave Barker! Some outcomes of the project are listed below: