Town hall talks Blue Goes Green funds
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 12:01
Blue Goes Green officiators encouraged students from different majors across campus to apply for the sustainability grant at a town hall in the Hub on Wednesday.
Two student housing employees who attended said they found the question and answer session useful for a grant they plan to apply for this spring. Rene Hernandez, Residence Hall Association events coordinator, and Wendy Sticht, a resident assistant, want the funding to educate and encourage sustainability in campus housing.
“People talk about recycling, reducing, reusing — those three principles, right?” Hernandez said. “For some reason, for me, sustainability always meant more.”
Members of the panel included past grant recipients, who answered questions on the application process and gave tips for those interested in applying.
Chris Binder’s said think of a project you are passionate about and find people to help you accomplish it.
“You don’t just fill out some paper and get some money and it’s over,” said Binder, a landscape architecture grad student who was awarded two grants last fall. “You’re going to be involved for at least six months with whatever project you choose, and if you’re not passionate about it, you’re not going to be all that successful.”
Binder’s grant projects both involve bicycles.
“I’m a cyclist,” he said. “Even in the winter, I ride my bike to school.”
Blue Goes Green awarded a grant to Binder and a group of students who want to put in a bicycle rack on the east side of the TSC. Binder said working in a group was helpful because writing the grant application was a lot of work. Having group members from different majors added value to their application, he said.
Ron Christiansen, whose group’s project was awarded money last spring, recommended grant applicants take advantage of campus resources.
“No matter what you’re doing, you’re going to find somebody that cares about what you’re doing,” Christiansen said.
Christiansen, an engineering student, said though his group does not write a lot, they were able to complete the application with help from the English department writing fellows and the lead technical writer at the Space Dynamics Laboratory.
The Student Organic Farm was able to expand with extra funding provided by a Blue Goes Green grant last spring, said Amanda Hawks, an agriculture student and panel member.
Hawks said those working with the farm were able to purchase equipment to grow more food and transport it to sell. The farm was more successful last year because of the grant, she said.
“The grant also gave us a lot more focus on sustainability,” she said.
The Blue Goes Green grant is funded by a three dollar student fee passed by students in February 2011. Though the grant was controversial at first, students are more accepting of it, Henry Easterling, an intern in the Student Sustainability Office who led the town hall, said.
“Honestly, even in a couple of years it’s become a widely accepted and acknowledged thing,” Easterling said.
Easterling said it was surprising the fee passed. Students were concerned about the fee being used wisely, he said.
The Blue Goes Green Student Grant Committee looks for projects students can access and are achievable, Roslynn Brain, a sustainability specialist for the USU extension who sits on the committee, said. She also looks for projects that align with the university’s commitment to be climate neutral by 2050 when examining the applications.
The committee comprises students from all eight colleges, a staff member of the Student Sustainability Office, Brain and a representative from Facilities.
Facilities often assists the grant awardees and provides matching funds, which students should not be afraid to ask for, Brain said.
For Hernandez and Sticht, the Housing employees who want to encourage sustainability, the grant process is still in the planning stages. However, the idea of teaching others to take care of the planet could turn into a grant if the committee accepts their application.
“There’s so many people living on this earth, and there’s so many people who aren’t doing anything to help, so why not help as much as we can?” Sticht said.