Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Green Eagles jump into spring

Green Eagles jump into spring

With a new internal structure and programing, the student-run Green Eagle sustainability advocacy program is moving its outreach from the residence halls to the entire campus.

Since its start in 2010, the Office of Sustainability’s Green Eagle program, which employs about 18 students as staff, has advocated for decreasing students’ ecological footprints, focusing on teaching sustainable practices that can be incorporated in everyday life in the residence halls.

“We serve as a liaison between the Office of Sustainability and students in the residence halls on campus,” Nathan Strauss, a senior in his third year as a Green Eagle, said.

This year, the program is taking an all-encompassing approach, hosting events that cater to the entire campus, not just on-campus residents, senior and second-year Green Eagle Greta Zukauskaite said.

“What I love about this year is that it’s way more focused on one big event. It’s more narrow, more focused, and I think a lot more can get done this way,” Zukauskaite said. “It’s a good model to move forward.”

This semester, the Green Eagles put their focus in the three-week long ECOlympics event, while they also made an appearance at the annual Sustainability Awareness night at the men’s basketball game held Feb. 4. During the 8 p.m. game, students and fans filled Bender Arena to watch the men’s basketball team face Loyola and learn more about being green and sustainable through videos featured on the scoreboard. In addition, the Green Eagles are preparing for events throughout the month of April for Earth Month.

The Green Eagle program has recently undergone a lot of changes, rearranging its structure to accommodate an increase in employees, Strauss said.

“When it started out, it was pretty small, and there was a lot of people who would graduate and move on, and we’d have to find other people and train them,” Strauss said.

Now, more Green Eagles come in as freshmen and stick with it, so the group has had to hire new people as well as and account for returning Green Eagles, he said.

Due to the larger staff size, the program is now broken up into different teams that handle separate jobs, such as education or marketing and outreach, he said.

Sophomore and second year Green Eagle Sofia Baneth is part of the education team, and focuses on teaching students and fellow Green Eagles proper sustainability methods.

“Essentially [our goal] is to engage and educate regarding sustainability, and, ideally, motivate or encourage sustainable behavior,” Baneth said. “For me, sustainability refers to the responsibility of using resources in a way so that they can be replenished and continued to be used, as well as be available to future generations.”

One way the program is trying to educate and engage students is through its new ECOlympics event, which started March 16 and will last for three weeks. ECOlympics is a competition between residence halls to see which can reduce its waste and electricity use the most, Strauss said.

To cater to off-campus residents, the event is taking a school-wide approach, with the first week focused on encouraging all students to pledge to reduce their carbon footprint in some way.

Green Eagles were stationed at tables in the Mary Graydon Center and at events throughout the week, such as the ECOlympics bonfire and s’mores kick-off held March 16, where they had students write pledges to reduce their waste and minimize their use of electricity, Baneth said.

The second week of the competition includes the ECOlympics Carnival, which includes games and prizes, which was held in the Tavern on Tuesday, March 24, Baneth said.

The final week of ECOlympics is capped off with an a capella show that limits the use of electricity held in the Kay Spiritual Arts Center, Baneth said.

“[The concert] is to promote not using electricity but also having a fun way to kind of engage people who may not have a lot of emphasis on the sustainability field,” Baneth said.

ECOlympics will run through April 5.

“The next step is to have all sustainability clubs on campus do something together. There’s lots of other eco clubs, and the Green Eagles is just one,” Zukauskaite said. “We have the same goals and care about the same thing.”

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