Statewide Student Leaders Flock to Morris for SELFsustain 2016
What do networking, bonfires and campus sustainability tours have in common? They all played a role in re-energizing attendees of the fifth annual 2016 Student Engagement Leadership Forum (SELF) Sustain conference, hosted by University of Minnesota, Morris April 1–2.
SELFsustain is a conference for student leaders who have been actively advancing sustainability on their campuses and in their communities. The conference provides students, faculty and staff from the five University of Minnesota campuses the opportunity to network and learn from each other. It creates a place for students to share their sustainability work and aspirations, exposes them to ideas about the process of creating change, prompts them to develop a deeper sense of place, and presents dialogue between students and staff about University goals and priorities. Attendees were welcomed by UM-Morris students and yummy food from a local Mexican restaurant. The afternoon included presentations on leadership by recent UM-Morris alumni, Fresh Energy staff member Matt Privratsky and Lakeville mayor Matt Little. It also included icebreaker activities and a UM-Morris “green tour.” Fascinating highlights included the inside of a wind turbine, solar energy conversion and the biomass gasification plant at Morris. The conference crew members finished off the night with a bonfire at UM-Morris faculty member Ed Brand’s Blueberry Farm, where they had a chance to try out a newly built composting toilet and continued to network and build friendships.
On Saturday, conference attendees were given the opportunity to converse about important sustainability topics during roundtable discussions. Discussion topics ranged from campus gardens, community engagement and global sustainability to renewable energy and composting/zero waste. Students gave lightning talks to showcase the different projects they are doing on their home campuses.
Student organizer Katie Ledermann was excited about the talks this year because she saw “the most participation as well as the most lightning talk presentations, which goes to show that students across the U of M are becoming more involved in sustainability projects on their campuses.” Katie, among other attendees, left SELF-sustain “re-energized and newly inspired by all of the students doing so much impressive sustainability work. I hope that people took new ideas and new energy back to their home campuses and that we will be able to continue to network with each other to make these exciting projects a reality.”
We look forward to next year! Thank you to UM-Morris for hosting, the terrific guest speakers, including Morris Chancellor Jacquelyn Johnson, and to the Institute on the Environment for financial support.
Photo credits: University of Minnesota Morris Office of Sustainability