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Green Scene: Eco-Representing

by Brian Barnes, professor of philosophy and Eco-Reps coordinator last modified Oct 24, 2012 07:28 AM

Do you care about sustainability and want to make a difference? Then Eco-Reps could be for you.

Green Scene: Eco-Representing

Brian Barnes manages the university food-waste compost.

Eco-Reps is UofL’s new sustainability education and service organization being launched this fall by the Sustainability Council. The program is intended to create a network of peer-to-peer advocates across campus, all of whom have been trained and empowered to work within their own social networks to facilitate more sustainable practices. Volunteer Eco-Reps will become knowledgeable about UofL’s sustainability initiatives and how all of us can contribute to minimizing waste and the negative environmental, economic and social impacts of our university community.

The Eco-Reps program is open to any member of the faculty, staff or student body who is interested in learning more about these issues and serving as the go-to person for sustainability within their sphere of influence — be it a department, office, residence hall, building, club or team. These sustainability superheroes will educate their peers and lead by example, modeling low-impact practices and working on sustainable service projects at UofL and in the wider community.

There are four main components to the Eco-Reps program: basic training, leadership and education, advanced training and service. Here’s how it works:

  1. Participants receive their initial training by showing up to hands-on service activities (Sundays at 10 a.m. to learn about volunteer composting, for example), watching a series of short UofL-specific training videos online (five videos will be released over this semester), reading supplemental guides and taking an Eco-Reps Basic Certification exam offered twice per semester beginning in Spring of 2013. The Basic Eco-Reps training videos will cover healthy eating on and off campus, transportation, university infrastructure and campus waste disposal options.
  2. Once Eco-Reps are certified, they will offer informal leadership and education in their respective on-campus communities, and will report on their activities to the Sustainability Council each semester and dialogue with university leaders about strategies for improving what we do. Certified Eco-Reps also will help at monthly training meetings where they’ll have an opportunity to learn from each other, exchange ideas and bring new volunteers up to speed.
  3. Advanced trainings will be offered beginning in spring of 2013. These modules will provide an opportunity for participants to dive even deeper into specific subject areas within sustainability through an online video training series, supplemented by technical materials and other Web sources. Advanced modules will include developing urban composting systems, designing and building rainwater capture systems, designing and building solar panels from low-cost materials and learning to use a bicycle for daily transportation around town.

Certified Eco-Reps also can begin working with an expert mentor to develop more advanced service projects on or off campus. Mentors will help design sustainable solutions and a process for implementation before turning the project over to the Eco-Rep, who will be eligible for receiving an advanced certification in the subject area once the project is successfully launched. Those completing the Advanced Eco-Reps Certification can apply to become Eco-Reps Mentors themselves and will have their names listed on the UofL Sustainability website as Eco-Reps Community Mentors in their area(s) of expertise.

  1. All Eco-Reps will be expected to participate in a wide variety of service year-round. The organization’s membership will decide on an annual, yearlong project. This year's project is to help UofL Dining Services and Blue Skies Recycling promote the new post-consumer waste food scraping station at the SAC multipurpose room cafeteria. Eco-Reps Brian Barnes, Angie Campbell and Tim Darst rolled out the project on Sept. 5. Eco-Reps will become a common sight in the SAC this year.

The Sustainability Council invites you to participate in this exciting new program and to become one of the first Eco-Reps at UofL. The time commitment need not be huge and training can be completed at your own pace. We would also love to partner with campus organizations looking for meaningful, transformative service opportunities for their membership. Anyone can become an Eco-Rep at any time, learn more about sustainability, and start making a real difference in our community. Sign up, get more information, watch our videos and see the calendar of service and training events at the Sustainability Council.

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