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Sustainability Action! Success

Written by Dominique Boczek

While the Minnesota State Fair was in full swing a few blocks away, students got to visit their own fair right on campus – Sustainability Action! On Friday, August 31st, incoming freshmen to the University of Minnesota had the opportunity to engage in sustainability on the St. Paul campus through an interactive open house. The event was co-sponsored by the Institute on the Environment and University Services and the list of participants included the “It All Adds Up” Program and University Dining Services. The event this year had nearly 3,000 attendees and got all of them thinking about sustainability at the U!

Welcome Week is a five day event that leads new students around campus and the Twin Cities to get them acquainted with the U community. The week is fun and action-packed, but oftentimes students are very tired by the end. We were happy to see them become re-energized and full of life at the open house!

Upon entering, students were led into the “Bazaar” where they learned about student groups and local organizations working with sustainability. They were able to try an organically-grown vegetable from the student farm, Cornercopia, and see how damming a river affects sediment movement in an interactive display.

The visitors were then invited to the “Plaza” where they took a picture in a sustainability-oriented face-in-hole display (see pictures on our Facebook!), found out their sustainability personality, and wrote on the wall of “what sustainability means to you” for a chance to win prizes. The students were able to visit University-sponsored sustainability programs like the minor and study abroad, and finish up their stay in the “Plaza” by playing a game of sustainably-oriented giant Jenga.

The open house ended in the “Midway”, the atrium of the Learning and Environmental Sciences building. Attendees could spin the wheel for reusable prizes from “It All Adds Up,” learn about the U of M’s Re-Use center, see what sustainable initiatives UDS has to offer, and learn about the mighty Mississippi and the U’s status as a national park from the River Life and the River Rangers. Sustainable, recycled clothing designed by University of Minnesota students lined the wall for students to view, including a jacket made of tea bags and a solar powered vest.

This event was a great way to make new students aware of sustainable initiatives on campus and opportunities for involvement. We want to make sure the next group of leaders is focused on protecting the environment for future generations.

Thanks to everyone who supported and participated in the event. We hope it was as much fun for you as it was for us!

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